Thursday, June 19, 2008

Taking Tangible Shape

Week four of The Bluest Water finds cast and crew in the midst of major activity ... and on the brink of major discovery. Many members of the cast portray a variety of character voices during some ensemble sections of the piece, and this has added an interesting, if only slight, complexity to the process of going "off-book". Remembering where one's line falls in a sequence of disjointed thoughts can be a little confusing. However, with the exception of the occasional minor script change, the need for pages in-hand has completely passed, even for these ensemble scenes.

Paul Stober (Robert) brushes up on his dialogue during a break.

For one actor in particular, this week has been quite a catch-up session. The newest addition to the cast, Koda Kerl, will be performing the character of Cuddy and is part of the Nelson Ensemble. We welcome him aboard!

Koda Kerl (Cuddy) studies his lines.

The week included the beginnings of set construction as well. The sections of stage which have thus far been taped off to represent platforms and objects now will begin to be filled by the actual pieces. With every day, there are new levels, and this continues to help the actors with an understanding of their own (and their characters') surroundings. Some days also bring new challenges for the crew as everything planned on paper must be put together in real space, which is not always a seamless process.

One of the show's multiple platforms undergoes construction, while unhung stage lights wait against the sound wall.

This week also has seen the greatest opportunity thus far for the various designers and directors to be on-hand every night and to put their heads together in preparation for entering the final technical planning phase. Soon, the set will be completed, lights will be hung, and cues will be readied. Just as life on the stage is busy for the actors right now, life behind and above the stage is abuzz also.

Technical Director JD Stallings, Scenic Designer Krista Franco, and Lighting Designer Dan Gallagher confer.

Scripts are no longer in-hand, but that is not to say that all the actors' work is behind them. Now is when the most challenging (and most exciting) phase of the production begins for the cast. Every work-through of a scene strengthens it, even if it undergoes flux a number of times. One of the earliest scenes written for the play, between the younger version of Emory and his brother Neddy, has undergone some of the most frequent alteration this week. The script has changed slightly, the action has changed slightly, the motivation and intonation have changed slightly ... and together these changes have begun to solidify the scene immensely: it has a real sense of progression now as a result. Such is the case for the rest of the show; as each scene becomes tight, the problem areas dwindle and the pieces begin to fit together.

Cast and director discuss a Nelson Ensemble scene.

Week four closes with the show being run almost-fully from beginning to end for the very first time. Every available member of the cast and crew assembled to mark through the entire play. While there was some stopping-and-starting (and of course some adjustment), the smoothness with which these evenings progressed bodes well for the production. Even though everyone knows there remains much to be done, everyone still was happy as a result. Now, we are truly creating.

Jared M Anderson
Endstation Blogger

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