Well, last night's rehearsal continued the "fixing of problems" portion of the program. And I'm inordinately pleased with some of the results:
We fixed the final moments of the show between Rev. Hale and Elizabeth Proctor. I'd left it very vague and undefined because I wanted to get a feel of where the show would organically take itself and how the kids would be playing out their characters. There's alot of ways the ending could be played, and it depends on how cold Elizabeth is being played, how strong Hale is played, etc.
I knew it was frustrating the two actors...and I kinda did it for that reason. It gets them invested when they can feel that a scene is wrong.
So, I tweaked the blocking and I gave them some specific beats to look for, and ultimately only resorted to one sorta line reading ("Try having that line go up in pitch at the end.") and success was had. It's nice to see the look of relief and pleasure on their faces when they can feel how much better a scene works.
We also worked Hale and Tituba's big scene. We hadn't successfully gotten Tituba to the required emotional state. It helps that so many of these kids are singers/musicians because I can use that terminology with them. And by the end of tweaking the scene and pushing her to not let the emotion drop, to not give Tituba even a moment's breath to regroup and recover herself - she was in tears (this is a good thing, since the character is supposed to be weeping in torment - the actress achieved real emotional connection with what was happening).
And Mrs. Putnam. I think this is my biggest success. Of course, I still have to see how well the fix sticks next week, but I think it will. Kellie had always seemed to resist my suggestions and direction and metaphors, seeming sullen and resentful. Last night I realized that it wasn't resentment, it was fear and frustration - she knew it wasn't working, but she didn't know how to fix it. After giving her specific physical ticks to manifest, and a specific stance, she made a breakthrough. She looked happy and relieved and could feel how much better the scene works - suddenly she was hitting the harder/meaner lines with real gusto because she was more physically connected to the role.
If I can succeed in getting all these fixed moments onstage, incorporated into a complete whole that flows from beginning to end - I think it will be quite a good show.
And if the kids get their lines memorized. I remind them constantly - but I don't bitch about it because, frankly, what good would it do? The ones who are the worst know how much things suffer because they don't know their lines. We were running a scene and I stopped them and said, "This is pointless. You're not acting, you're trying to remember your lines." And I didn't even let them finish the scene, nor go get their books and then finish the scene. They are very aware of how important it is. "I'm not the one who's going to be onstage fumbling for my lines - you are. And while I'll be out there squirming for you in the dark, anonymously, you'll be up onstage under all the lights in front of hundreds of people squirming."
After finishing rehearsal, I dashed over to River Falls, Wisconsin, to sing for a women's group meeting of a dear friend of mine, Judith. Judith was rehearsal and pit pianist for all my favorite shows with BCT. She's a minister's wife with a wicked sense of humor. I got to sing some of my favorite songs accompanied by one of my favoritest people - and have chocolate cake after. Life is good.
Today - I'm tired. But I'm packed for the retreat. I'll go out for a brief Dry Tech - lights won't be focused, so it won't be about lighting. But we can run the tech crew through the very minimal scene changes. And go through the sound cues. And check on the props. And get an update on the state of the set. (It looks pretty much done to me except for the platform. The platform pieces were out last night and they looked very rickety - just legs, no supporting crosspieces. I'm very curious about that. Of course, it was all in pieces, which made me do a double take, because I suggested that way back when as a fix to waiting to build the platform till after today's performance and was told it would take too much lumber to build it in sections - the cheapest and best way was to build one big platform with proper bracing. Hunh.) (Damn that was a long parenthetical phrase.) (Do you sort of lower your mental voice when you read parentheticals? I do.)
Then I will buy alcohol and head to the Sheraton where I will get in the hot tub, by all that is holy. And eat pizza. I will also eat pizza.
In shocking news, I am not motivated to do filing today.