Thursday, June 12, 2008

Footing, Fraying, and Fine-Tuning

The third week of rehearsals began with a new two-part phase for the members of Romeo and Juliet: 'dance' and 'fight'! On Sunday afternoon, guest choreographer Loretta Wittman spent an hour with the cast members who will be participating in the dance at the Capulet's party. This was followed by a two-hour session with fight captain Geoff Kershner, adding to his duties as director of The Bluest Water by focusing upon structuring the "organized mayhem" of Romeo and Juliet's opening brawl.

Benvolio attempts to break up part of the fight, while parasols engage in the background.

Initially, the Romeo and Juliet dance and fight rehearsals will be only weekly (with additional attention given where it fits). Instead, for both productions this phase of the rehearsal process is primarily the "work-through". The underlying meaning has been determined; the blocking notes have been taken; now comes the time to find the characters and develop the rhythm of the scenes.

Casey Carden (Emory in The Bluest Water) discusses a character motivation.

The Bluest Water director Geoff Kershner makes suggestions for changes to a scene.

This process involves repetition ... and lots of it. A scene (or portion of a scene) may be attempted multiple times with different inflections and interpretations to determine the best fit and to address problem areas. Now is the point at which the shows should begin having a discernible degree of flow, and an important part of this stage for many of the actors is the work towards being "off-book" (with lines of dialogue fully memorized).

Production Manager Maria Hayden watches a Romeo and Juliet rehearsal
with script
in-hand to provide help to anyone who calls for a line.

Romeo and Juliet director Bill Kersher looks on as the actors make their way through a scene once more.

Most of the scenes for The Bluest Water are already being attempted without scripts. Since it is in modern speech, stumbling through this way helps to encourage retention through repetition. By the end of each rehearsal evening, most scenes already have been recited virtually word-for-word. For the Romeo and Juliet cast, it can of course be a challenge to commit Elizabethan English to memory quickly. Some are still more comfortable with their scripts in-hand for every scene, others have certain sections they've been able to fully memorize, but all would agree that the best character work begins to happen when the script is finally completely gone. Only a few days remain before "lines are due" and the fine-tuning truly can be taken to the next level.

Jared M Anderson
Endstation Blogger

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