We continued our work through of the play tonight, arriving at the final scenes in Richard’s and Richmond’s camps and on the battle field. These scenes are pretty straightforward, so most of our work was simply reviewing and refining blocking – we initially staged these scenes in the classroom where we sometimes work, and we needed to get on the same page about some details.
The main work of the night was on the ghost scene, which we staged with many stand-ins and without knowing for certain where people needed to enter and exit. We re-assigned roles as needed, refreshed ourselves and introduced new people to the mechanics of the scene, and ran through it several times, writing everything down as we went. Having a “cheat sheet” will help during the remainder of our process, especially if we need to run the scene with stand-ins again.
At the end of the meeting, those of us who’ve been in the group for a while asserted again that we are far ahead of where we usually are in the process at this point. Some years, we’ve been lucky if we’ve been able to work through and run the play once with costumes and props; in fact, our first full play never had a complete run before we performed it, and we didn’t know for certain that we’d be able to get through it in our allotted time. Our plan going forward, with this luxury of having more rehearsal time than usual, is to alternate runs of the play with detailed scene work until the week before performance, at which point we will run it twice with costumes and props.
I’m thrilled that we’re able to do this. We will, of course, still be nervous before our performances, but we will have a solid foundation to give us more confidence than usual, even with those nerves. It will be interesting to see if this changes the dynamics of the play’s execution in front of an audience.
We spent our time tonight problem solving – one ensemble member who has emerged as a sort of stage manager and I have kept a list of particularly messy scenes/transitions to be worked as time allows. We solved the problem of a mysteriously appearing and disappearing bench, figuring out the best way to get it on and off stage to ensure that it stays a part of a scene in which it’s very helpful to the actors involved. One ensemble member told us that she’d felt particularly awkward during one scene – that it had been difficult for her to figure out how to address certain people because they’d been physically far from her on the stage. So we fixed that blocking!
Our Edward, then, asked to work on her monologue, which she’s memorized. At first she judged herself harshly each time she stumbled, frustrated that she knew the lines when rehearsing in her unit but couldn’t seem to get them out with us. We all encouraged her, saying that this is part of the process, that it’s completely fine to make mistakes, and that it throws all of us off when we go off book in front of people for the first time. As she continued to work, her performance got stronger and stronger. She still felt poorly about how she’d done, but the rest of us felt strongly that she’d done very well, and we reiterated that.
Our next meeting will be an attempt to run through the entire play. I cautioned the group that we might not get through all of it on our first try – that that’s common and nothing to worry about. We’ll see how it goes!