May 7, 2014
“Last week I went to watch rehearsal for a few hours, where they spent about 2 hours on 15 pages of script, stopping frequently to discuss motivations, the meanings of individual lines or words, and staging. Everything from the larger questions like how the characters would be feeling in a particular moment or scene, to where to place RJ’s computer bag – Sean: “Where would you put it FOR REAL?” James: “I’d probably put it on the floor.” – is up for discussion. I enjoyed being privy to the specifics of what words and lines to stress and when, and Sean’s reminders to the actors of when the audience is hearing a new piece of information for the first time, and therefore to make sure it’s clearly articulated and stressed – like when Lauren says her mother has had a stroke. New information for the audience, who is beginning to piece things together about what the situation is that they’ve just been launched into.
I really loved the conversation about Lauren’s reaction to RJ’s statement that “the Marlins are tough.” Sean’s direction to Emily: “She’s thinking, ‘Don’t say anything good about the Marlins. We don’t celebrate before a win actually happens, but we also don’t jinx it. NOBODY MOVE.’ Right?”
“By contrast, during the rehearsal I went to this week they did a full run-through of the play, after a few notes and line changes from Mat, and it was wonderful to get to see the play through, after having only heard it once (first rehearsal) and then been there for some of the more nitty-gritty details of running through it page by page. Before the actors began, Sean gave them two directions; two things to pay attention to and work on – 1.) Listening, and 2.) The “acting trick” of going from scene to scene with character changes (since the actors have to play multiple roles) and being able to pick up a character where you left him or her in a previous scene.
The actors brought a lot of energy and excitement to the run-through. It was funny, passionate, and dramatic. The stumbling points here and there on lines were few, and generally they were able to go through the entire play with great momentum… at least it felt that way through this cohort’s eyes! There were many things in this run through that I hadn’t noticed or at least not entirely paid attention to in the read through that were now more stark and more interesting. What a difference it makes seeing the play infused with energy and movement. It’s easier to follow, and feels more alive… as I write this I realize how obvious that must sound! But when I sat at the read through I already felt that the play had energy and could imagine some of the movement that would eventually go along with it, so it struck me this week how dynamic and fun the play was to watch now. How the words really jump off the page once they’re in the hands of a great director and great actors. How the thing comes alive, becomes a breathing entity. A thing all its own. Where before I’d simply enjoyed the text, now I feel it. This time around I got fully pulled in, even tearing up in a few parts!
But then, near the top of my “things that make me cry” list is anything having to do with sentimentality in baseball. (Don’t even ask me how many times I’ve re-watched Mariano Rivera being taken out of his final game last year by his long time friends and teammates Jeter and Pettitte, and how pathetically I fall apart every time!) So I guess it’s no surprise that Lauren’s line “What if she comes back? What if the Cubs win it all? What if?” tugged at my heartstrings. It’s having faith in something. It’s believing.
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan….. It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”
During this week’s rehearsal I also made the connection between the chaos and calamity of the Cubs/Marlins Game 6 game that is being described over the radio during the play, and the frantic search for Nessa while that game is going on. I thought of the game falling apart at the same time as Lauren was desperately searching the crowd in and out of the stadium, running back to find RJ in the apartment, and running out again to search some more. It felt like a similar panic in her voice as was in the announcers’ voices as they did a play-by play of the game’s disintegration. I don’t know if that was purposeful or if I’m just finding a connection that speaks to ME, but I really liked that overlap of chaos on chaos.” – Tate DeCaro