Preview week, to me, is one of the hardest weeks of my process. Not only do I need to be available with fresh coffee for the rehearsals, but I also have to begin figuring out my track for the preview performance. However, I continue to work on my check list (one of my favorite jobs) in order to consistently do my specific tasks required during the performance. The biggest job is preparing and doing the scene changes. There are eight!! I make a lot of beds, refresh the wine and food, and round up the supernumeraries, which are in costume and make scene changes onstage possible. I am so grateful for them! If not for their help the changes would be really boring and slow. Opening week next week is always a relief. It’s nice to run the show with no new changes and to finally get into a routine.
Archive for the ‘The Lion in Winter’ Category
Well, here we are in week four of the process of putting together The Lion in Winter. I don’t know why, but even after acting professionally for more than 10 years, I always feel like I am reinventing the wheel whenever I construct a character. The obstacle of the week: no empty space.
One of the magical things about theatre is the capacity to engage in an imaginary world. In the rehearsal process, much energy is expended imagining and creating in our minds the playing space. Rehearsals typically take place in a space separate from and usually not resembling the actual performance space. So it is with us upon arriving at 325 Tudor Court. Coming to terms with the actual props is confusing, reconfiguring our kinesthetic relationships is confounding and seeing just how close the audience is going to be is downright terrifying. Fortunately the work we have done so far as an ensemble is strong, so it is no small comfort to look in the eyes of my partner onstage and know that the other person is my anchor.
Something that I have been thinking alot about with this play is the extent to which expression can be achieved through stillness. I performed in Blue Man Group many years ago as a Blue Man and one of the directors was always urging the Blue Men to simply have the experience of the show and let the audience watch us go through it. Only then can we allow the audience to participate viscerally and imaginatively in the story of the show. Coming back to The Lion in Winter, I feel that the combination of this show, our particular director’s aesthetic and the limitations/blessings of our space require a stillness and focus that I have never experienced before.
I am sitting here on a break in our technical rehearsal anxiously anticipating the family style chinese food that one of the actors ordered for the cast. I will try and stretch before getting into a beautiful costume that is almost a quarter of my body weight. I will then warm up my voice and try and clear my head with a cup of coffee, a breath of fresh air and most likely an inspiring note from our director, Rick Snyder. And so I am living the dream….
I’m reading an article in this week’s New Yorker about Mark Rylance, the celebrated English actor and founding artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London. One of his former directors said the following about his work on stage: “He has what all great sportsmen have: he seems to have more time than anyone else.” The gist of this metaphor is that he can take this dense text, move effortlessly through it, and convey so many different ideas at once, without slowing down or confusing the audience. The work in The Lion in Winter requires that kind of layering, if it’s to be shown at it’s best. The character I play, Eleanor, is one that has so much pent-up hurt, regret, and love which the audience absolutely must know is there, but she shows it at her own peril, for it gives away her power, and leaves her even more vulnerable. She must play coolly, with effortless grace and elan, so no one will see how much she desparately needs. Well, that’s the goal. We’ll see if I get there….