Director’s blog: Putting up a fight

PictureZoran Kovcic and Stacy Skinner rehearsing.
Photo: Rosy Amaya

Director’s blog: Putting up a fight
Liam Castellan, Communicating Doors director

A few highlights of rehearsals, week 2:

We finally have a full cast! Hedgerow’s own Zoran Kovcic was on a well-deserved vacation for the first week of rehearsals, so we skipped over his scenes last week. This isn’t common, but well worth it here, as Harold (the mildly-helpful, mildly-intelligent hotel security guard) is a great role for Zoran. We worked on his scenes early in the week, and he’s already caught up with the rest of the cast (he even brought his script on vacation and worked on his lines a bit). [Also: a hat tip to Joel, who read the role of Harold at the read-through on Day 1.] 

We finished blocking. By halfway through the week, we’d finally done at least one draft of blocking for every scene. We didn’t block scenes quite in chronological order, for a few reasons. Zoran’s absence was a big one, also grouping together scenes with the same actors to be more efficient and respect everyone’s time. Some blocking will need to change, as we get better ideas or just realize certain movements no longer work as well as they first did.

We fought for over an hour! Any scene that has violence in it needs a good deal of special rehearsal time to make sure it’s safe and still tells the right story. Most directors bring in a specialist for this, and ours is Jared Reed. We had our first session with him this week. Yes, it’s not enough that Jared’s such a good director, actor, playwright, adaptor, designer, and Artistic Director, he’s also very experienced with stage combat. When I directed Corpse! last year, Jared was responsible for the thrilling climactic sword fight, and I completely trust him with my cast.

We reviewed and went deeper. As we finish blocking, it becomes more productive to review scenes a second time. We generally keep good notes about blocking, but seeing what the actors remember without checking their notes is very instructive, as the things they forget sometimes aren’t well-connected to the text or the character’s intentions, and should be replaced. We review to improve blocking, strengthen/sharpen each character’s goals/behaviors, and begin to tighten up on timing and pace. 

We cracked each other up. We lost a few minutes here and there to giggling. Sometimes due to mistakes, other times due to moments that we hope will make YOU laugh!