Staging an Epic Chapter 3: Moving to the Theatre


Open Rehearsals at Shakespeare are the first day that the cast is in the physical theater space, on the stage. The audience is getting to see all of those parts that they would never see during the production They’ve been working so hard. They’re not exactly sure things are gonna work out. Is this set pieces that move like it’s supposed to? Is that lighting cue going to hit when it needs to? And honestly they don’t know like – is the audience going to laugh here? Are people going to be crying? Like, is any of this work that we’ve been doing for seven weeks going to result in what we want – the effect that we want it to have on the audience? This is our very first day on this set and you can imagine we didn’t have any of this in the rehearsal room. So this is truly a spacing rehearsal. No costumes, no lighting. And we’re going to be spending all of our time seeing where we should be on this floor. Okay. I always like to say this is inviting you to join the mystery of the theatre and destroying it for you. Ok, we’re gonna start. Give Clytemnestra the cue. And, scream. Momma? You’re thinking of ten years ago. She’s thinking of ten years ago! All for him. All for him to lead to glory. All for him to botch. And, stop. “And they will never let the wind blow” [snaps] And I think you need to lean slightly forward on that as well. Studying the Graham technique in school really made me realize how important it was to transmit emotion through your body, whether it is a huge profound move or something very, very subtle. It can mean volumes. So having an Open Rehearsal is important for me to make sure that the emotions that I’ve been trying to tap into in rehearsal is coming to life and projecting into this huge space. The Open Rehearsal is our staging rehearsal and that begins the tech process. We’ve now moved into the theatre, out of the rehearsal room, and we’re starting to add all the design elements. So the set, the costumes, the lighting, and the sound. I love that they do these Open Rehearsals, even if it’s a little nerve-racking. I really feel like that’s theatre at its best, is when it’s a function of serving the community that it’s happening in. You feel closer to the audience, and I hope they feel a little bit closer to all of us because they see us as people trying to make something, not just these characters that we are when they come to see the play. If I could please have the cast in the stage, we are going to go ahead and pick it up with looking at some changes in the carpet. When we’re calling a show early on in the process, it’s a very new experience for us. As a Stage Manager, I’ve been doing a completely different job in the rehearsal hall, where my job is to collect information and to disseminate it correctly, to take this staging that’s going on and putting it into the book, making sure the props are in the right place, making sure that we’re getting costume fittings done. All of that type of thing. And now I’m moving to actually calling the show which means being on headset with the crew, telling them when to take light cues, when to take sound cues, when to move the automation on the stage. And that’s something that we’ve just developed recently beforehand. It takes, for a big show, to put a big play up, it takes almost the whole three weeks or four weeks to just get it up and get everybody to learn it so that when that’s all happened, then you want to go back and take my time and explore this scene, change the scene, each scene as it goes along. I love that process, at that time, and when you have freedom to do that with basically the big questions to sort of answer. How do you get out of this pose? How do you get out of this position? That makes it not so complicated. We were just talking about that. Maybe we can – if you can end up somehow more like this. We’re just trying to imagine what it will be like with blood. Ah! Leave me alone. I have nothing left to give you. Who is this? That worked. Great. Do you want to do it again? Yeah. When I’m working with Susan and Ellen, the level of detail and the creativeness that they are bringing to the table, just kind of makes you want to be on your a-game. It’s a powerful thing to have women creating and working and producing stuff that is top-of-the-line work. The actors are discovering things. All the designers are discovering things. Michael, our Director, is discovering up things. Ellen, our writer, is going home and rewriting moments. So this time is when you’re nervous about everything. I think if somebody isn’t losing sleep on a show that they’re going into tech for, means that they don’t really have anything at stake. So wish us luck. Deep in the darkness of my fisted heart, a match is struck to light the bright little fire of dread. It doesn’t take much imagination, really. I mean, how stupid can she be? You’re not stupid, are you, birdie? We have to nail the ending, because it’s a long, bloody, difficult play. Otherwise, we don’t give people the right way to walk back out onto the street again. If we get it right, it will be quite something. But it’s not quite there yet.

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