(From Thursday, October 8)
BOOM rehearsals, Thursday. Two days and counting…..
Well here we go, it’s two days from opening and we’re slamming this puppy up. Everyone is busting their butts to get things wonderful and amazing for opening; so far so good. We’ve been in the theatre for about a week, working on the set as it materializes before our eyes on a daily basis. The big challenge is creating magic with the reality of small budgets, trying to make it look right and in this case, “prop it” properly (the show is very prop heavy in terms of set dressing). I say challenge, but at the same time, it’s one of the things I love the best about working for places like Know Theatre. A great deal of imagination goes into developing a look for a show like this, lots of creative thinking from designers to make it look right and still stay within budget, which is a huge deal these days.
The blocking we worked on in the rehearsal hall fit pretty well once we moved into the theatre, there are always adjustments to make, but all in all the staging seems to be working. Then, as we continue to work on the set, lots of new options come to the fore and so we change things and adjust and tweak things until the pictures are interesting and driving the story forward and the actors are comfortable with movement in terms of their own needs and desires. Blocking, simple proximity of bodies in space is kind of amazing in terms of how it can make or break what an actor is feeling….so we continue to evolve the staging so that we arrive on what best illuminates what the actors are going after. Our bodies are pretty smart if we just get out of the way and much of my job right now is trying to feel when the actors are uncomfortable and to help them find a “better place to be” when need be.
We spent last weekend teching the shows, adding lights and sound and props etc. With most of the designers doing double duty and wearing several hats at once, there are always things that are there when we want them to be; it’s simply a matter of not enough bodies to accomplish it all. But we got there and we all felt good after the 10 out of 12’s, which were Sat. and Sun. (10 out of 12’s are technical rehearsals where the actors and crew work 10 out of 12 hours in a day in order to build all of the light cues, sound cues, work scene changes, entrances, exits, etc. These are loved by some, dreaded by many but absolutely essential to the process of creating a show.)
As things come together, it becomes super important for us (the designers and me) to get things happening and done on the tech side of the production so we can get back to the play and give the actors time to work with all the new stuff and get comfortable in what will be their home for the next five weeks. This is ever a challenge, whether it be here or the Guthrie or the National Theatre in London….getting all the tech finished and polished so the story, the relationships, the people can become the focus again. We’ve almost gotten to that point by now and we take a few hours in the afternoons to work on tech stuff and little moments that need tweaking and then run the show at night.
Tonight we will have our first real audience, a preview, which we are all very ready and anxious for. With a show like this, a comedy that depends a lot on timing and landing jokes and snappy patter, the audience becomes an additional cast member and we REALLY need some folks in the seats to tell us what is or isn’t working. Can’t wait to see how people react to the show and this is a great time for me to see what needs work, what isn’t clear, what needs attention. Observing the body language of the audience is very helpful, it tells you tons about how the show is working. Are they sitting up and hopefully on the edge of their seats? GOOD! Are they relaxed back into the chairs and thought watching, not necessarily taking an active part in the play? NOT SO GOOD. Are they shuffling and unengaged? TERRIBLE! I’ll be doing a lot of audience watching in the next two nights and making careful notes about when various reactions are happening. The audience will tell me much of what I need to know and without their input we are really operating in a vacuum.
In the realm of things, we’ve still got lots of time and I will continue to change and adjust things right up until Saturday afternoon if need be. Hope it’s funny….
Boom opens Saturday, October 10 and runs through Saturday, November 7. www.knowtheatre.com