Thursday, June 26, 2008

Theatre by Torchlight (or, An End to Training Wheels)

Week 5 of Romeo and Juliet sees the company having reached a goal which recently seemed unattainable: the full run-through! It took a couple of tries; due to rainy weather (and the need to shift indoors, then out again) Sunday's start to the rehearsal week only reached the end of the first half of the show.

On Monday, rehearsal resumed with the top of the second half. The show ran to the end, then started again from the top. All in all, and even though it was out of order, approximately 3/4 of the play was performed.

Adjustments which bring the rehearsal to a halt are less and less necessary every night.

It was Tuesday that the goal was finally fully reached, and the sense of accomplishment was almost tangible. The show, from beginning to end, actually fit into one rehearsal! There were minimal places where stops (readjustments, corrections, etc.) were necessary, and performances and technical transitions get tighter every day. Even the ever-diligent ASM, Brian Chaitin, found himself providing lines to actors far less than had been done prior.

Assistant Stage Manager Brian Chaitin waits to rescue actors stranded without lines.

The week has also included regular fight calls and warm-up calls beforehand every night. All those in attendance that participate in any of the fight scenes must review their choreography frequently in order to keep everything as safe as possible. Physical and vocal warm-ups also take place at a set, scheduled time in order to help everyone prepare for the routine of performances.

The maskers' dance was taken outside for the first time this week and went surprisingly smoothly considering the very different surface (a mixture of grass, brush, and brick), but as with any component of the production repetition is key to refinement.

The Romeo and Juliet rehearsal week closed with two nights of "Spots". Before we enter the final phase of rehearsals, it's necessary to identify the areas which need the greatest attention, for various reasons. These included the dance, the opening brawl, and scenes between/among particular actors who may have had previous scheduling conflicts.

The spot rehearsals also included the first technical lessons for those handling the guns and the torches. Even though much of what goes on in a performance involves a degree of make-believe, and even though their use is minimal, real substances such as fire and powder still require great care to be taken so that everyone's safety is ensured.

The production's elegant torches add to the ambiance

In the coming week, we will begin to remove the proverbial safety net. We grow closer each night to performance conditions, and "line" can no longer be called! (If an actor gets in a jam, he or she must find a way out ... or those nearby must assist.) Scripts are still often reviewed by off-stage actors. The final week-and-a-half of preparation is upon us, and excitement is growing. There will be adjustments that still must be made and sections that still must be given particular attention. Nevertheless, everyone is ready to move onward!

Two actors review lines while not needed on-stage

Jared M Anderson
Endstation Blogger

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