Director’s blog: “Entertaining goo”

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Director’s blog: “Entertaining goo”
Liam Castellan, Communicating Doors director

Rehearsals, week… 3?

I actually had to think for a second to figure out how many weeks we’ve been at this. A sure sign we’re in the middle. The big news is that on Thursday (8/21) we moved from the Farmhouse Studio to the stage. Striking the “39 Steps” set didn’t take long, and after only a few days the big pieces of my set (sorry, I meant to say OUR set) are in place. Lots of theatres rent an empty room for rehearsals, and only move into their rented theatre a few days before performances begin. Hedgerow has the luxury of owning its own real estate, so we get more time onstage, as the set slowly grows around us.

More time onstage is always super-useful. When the walls and doors are mostly in place, and the furniture is in the middle of it, you learn all sorts of things. Several moments need to be slightly shifted in location for various reasons. To be more visible. To work around a slightly different furniture configuration than we’d rehearsed with. Or simply because an actor standing next to an actual wall never looks the same as an actor standing next to a line on the floor. Before moving onstage, we also had our first attempt at the whole show since blocking. Since a first attempt usually involves stopping to fix things, sometimes forgetting where you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to say, and maybe a few continuity errors (caused from rehearsing scenes out of order), we don’t call it a “run-through”, but a “stumble-through”. We tried for a second stumble-through Sunday evening on the set, but came to the end of rehearsal only 2/3 through the script. But a lot of great progress.

This is also the week where the actors start putting their scripts down and testing their memorization. There are a wide variety of methods actors use to memorize, and some are more adept than others. A stage manager or assistant sits offstage with a script, feeding lines when called upon. This slows down the scenes, and the acting generally suffers for a while when actors struggle to remember, but it’s a necessary part of the process. The next stage of work only happens once the actors know the lines cold, and can refocus back on their characters, what they want from each other, and what tactics they’re using. 

When a caterpillar crawls into its chrysalis to pupate, its body actually dissolves into a goo before becoming a butterfly. This week involved a fair amount of goo. Very entertaining goo to be sure, and a common and necessary stage of the work, but there is much to do before we can spread our wings.