“I had four revelations about the play creation process today:
Tuesday rehearsal started at the very beginning of the show with Richard Hannay walking on the stage and setting the stage. Again, I was impressed with how hard everyone worked and how much collaboration was going on.
The actors would suggest something, Sean would say “What about” maybe they would try it, or suggest something else. In the end the final decision was always better and, I must say, funnier. Funnier is so much the key to this play.
2. Motivation makes a difference.
It was interesting to hear how many times Sean would stop and ask an actor…”What is your motivation?” why are you doing the scene a particular way. It is pretty clear that once the actors had articulated the why, the scene was better. I guess I never realized how much that internal knowledge of “why” could effect the way an actor moved as well as spoke….the timing, the facial expressions, the gestures…all can change once the “why” has been established. And, nearly every time, it was the actor who came up with this motivation, not the director.
Sometimes we audience members think, I suppose, that the directors tell the actors what to do and then the actors do it. And, I suppose, that this is sometimes the case. Though in all the rehearsals I have seen with Sean thus far, he as rarely said “Do it this way.” The creation is a collaboration in the truest sense.
The second thing I learned today is how much costuming and props make a difference. It was interesting to hear an actor say “I love the costume shop. They want this dress to be pretty, but also to work for me and all the action I do in it.” And…to test this out, she came up to the rehearsal hall and did a bit of a scene to see how the dress performed. A very, very funny scene it turns out and the dress performed splendidly.
And then, a request went to the Props Dept to get little tea cups….”tea is funny.” Wait until you see where these are used. It is, indeed, funny.
4. One of the jobs of the director is to help the audience.
The company spent a good deal of time going over certain scenes and getting the timing, the facial expressions, the gestures just right. “This is the plot. If the audience doesn’t get it here, they won’t get the rest of the crazy stuff later on. This is the last chance for them to really understand what is going on.”
When I first heard and read these scenes, I could see that they provided some information that moved the plot forward, but I really did not appreciate the extent to which it was critical that the audience get it. But, as the scenes advanced and developed, it became more and more clear that yes….we’re pulling the audience along, helping them to relate to this story, even if the play is just so funny that you can miss the “serious” situation that is creating the motivation!
What a great opportunity this is. To peek in on the creative process. To see what must be done to make theatre for us. Right here in Rochester. Something to celebrate, for sure. Thanks everyone.” – Betti Abbas