From Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When I first read the script for boom, one of the things I thought would be most fun would be trying to figure out with designers how to make the end of the world happen in the Know space, on a budget! (That’s one of the things I love about the theatre, is creating worlds and illusions with just some light and fake walls and humans.) Trying to make the event theatrical and avoiding the literal are so important to me. I love going to the theatre and being asked as an audience member to use my own imagination, to take an active part in the event; nothing pleases me more and I want this to do that for our audience. I think Andrew, the set and light designer, and Doug, the sound designer and all around make-it-happen-guy, have brought a lot to the party already and so now we have to put it all together and allow the myriad ideas to coalesce into an event worth watching. That’s the plan anyway….
So we started rehearsals on Thursday last with the cast (Liz, Allison and Josh) and SM, Becky. We spent a couple of days at the table, reading thru the play and then going back thru line by line and talking about it in context. This table work is oh so important for many reasons. For me, it’s a chance to hash out questions we all might have about the play: What is the overall theme of the play? What does the playwright want us to take away from viewing it on stage? What do individual lines mean in that context? Etc. It’s also a way for me to guide the actors toward a common viewpoint, to put all of the above questions under one umbrella and to eventually agree on some common answers. The great thing is that while I may have one idea of what a particular scene or line is saying often the clear heads of the actors show me that I was totally off base and it’s actually about something else. This is a very creative time in the rehearsal process, it’s us all agreeing to agree what the play is about and clarifying each plot point and making sure we’re interpreting it clearly and succinctly. I LOVE table work and depending on how long the rehearsal process is, I’ll spend sometimes four or five days on this work. It is invaluable and ends up saving lots of time in the long run. For this project, we spent about 12 hours on this and I felt ready to get on our feet and start to block the show.
One of the things I find most challenging about the script, as well as most interesting, is the fact that it is full of such snappy dialogue and how we bring the comedy out while still telling the story clearly and succinctly. Comedy is really difficult to get right so that in and of itself is a huge challenge. Timing is VERY important and at the same time it’s not something you can really teach someone – they’ve either got it or they don’t. Luckily I think we’ve got actors involved that have good comic timing. Then it becomes my job to continually refine and tweak it so that we’re getting the most boom for our buck. This is the time in the process where we’re starting to go over things with a little more of a fine toothed comb and throwing out anything that isn’t working and searching for alternatives.
The challenges of staging are really the challenges of trying to clarify the story and get to the essence of the funny!
The next several days have been spent on blocking – figuring out where the actors are on stage at any particular time during a particular scene. I like to do so chronologically; we start at the top and slowly work thru the play, on our feet and bringing it to life. We’ve been at this part of the process for a couple of days now and as of today, Tuesday (September 22), we’re about 2/3 thru the play. This rough blocking allows us to loosely set the action with the understanding that any and all of it can and probably will change as we continue to refine and clarify what is going on. By end of day tomorrow we should have the show rough blocked and can begin the real work of honing in on the truth of what we’re doing. That process will continue thru opening and beyond for the actors, it really shouldn’t stop until the closing night. Once we get things roughed in, I’ll be back with more on the process. Peace.