Diary of a Play #8: It’s kicking off, Pru!

The rehearsal schedule has emerged, and suddenly it’s all on.

Realisation that the show goes up in a month’s time – holy crap!

For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.
  • Props are being collated, desks constructed, in preparation for theatre bump-in. Spd D8n is deliberately sparse – no set, just furniture and props. This keeps logistics simpler for all concerned, especially should the show go on the road or re-stage at fringe festivals.
  • “Scripts down by next Monday” – oh, how the actors laugh at such foolish idealism. These laughs will slowly ebb away into sobs as the memorisation task sinks in. Poor sods.

    Ewww. And someone should probably give the stage a good sweep, too.

  • Photo shoot this weekend. This means thoughts of character costumes, hair styles, demeanour. This is an early roadtest at portraying the characters.
  • In the background, stage crew are being coaxed – friends are contacted, availabilities checked, favours called in. Sphincters remain taut until the all-important Stage Manager is locked in.
  • Across the mixing desk, minds that are to ours as ours are to the beasts, view our world with technical eyes, and slowly and surely build their lighting rigs to illuminate us.
  • Sound effects are collated for cues.  A plethora of odd noises, burps, farts, and doorbells emanate from the director’s laptop at unexpected moments. Well, she says she’s testing sounds effects, anyway.

 

A writer rests between witticisms

Busy times.

Except for the writer, who can sit back and watch it all happen. At least until the publicity cranks up.

Besides occasional rehearsal of my – ahem – cameo.

First up, though: the group read-through.

 

I sit in on this, trying to remain as innocuous as possible as the cast take turns to explain their respective characters. The danger of the writer being present is that actors might feel less free about expressing their interpretation for fear it’s “wrong”. Fortunately, there are only occasional glances for confirmation my way. I can only shrug anyway, my head deep in other projects now so it’s all vague fog for me.

An acting visual metaphor the other day

The character explanation exercise is an interesting perspective for the writer. Other people are suddenly fleshing out your characters, getting into their shoes, and taking ownership. The actor goes forensic on any little snippet that might reveal some facet to be gripped and extrapolated. Some of these have been deliberately laid, and you almost say “Bingo!” when they’re picked up on. Some are news to me, but hey, lets see where it goes.

Then the line run begins.

I grab my notepad for no great reason. The script is locked in now, with people memorising it as written – no matter how much I would kill for one more edit.

I draw some squiggles instead, and try not to feel too queasy.

Or maybe … Jungian?

It’s been read a number of times now, so the freshness is gone, the reactions muted with familiarity.

So obviously I just assume the script is dreadful and I’m an over-writing hack. Why did I come along again?

More squiggles, though more Freudian in nature now.

However, this is where the actors start bringing in their stuff. Phrasings, facial reactions, quirks. Some zinging delivery of jokes. Sneak previews of the performances to come.

For me, less squiggling, more listening.

I still want to chop and change lines, though, but then I always will.

Feck, I missed my cue.

And so the line run goes, choccy biscuits providing sustenance.

Still early stages but very promising.

Lots of lines to learn, and hopefully the workshopping between director and actors will achieve the streamlining my itching red pen is aching to do to the script.

Anyway, the various tasks and operations seem to be in full flight now. So this is where I bid them adieu till I’m actually needed.

Next time: Tartin’ the Wares – Marketing and Publicity

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