Ups and downs

posted by Director Traci Brant

It seems like ages since I last posted.  Forgive us for not getting to it sooner, but the rehearsal process has intensified significantly (and that's a good thing).  Here's a little summary of what we've been up to the last few days.  Last Thursday, the actors went off book for the first time.  For anyone who's been through this process, it's a rough night for all involved.  When you're brain is looking for the lines, the blocking sometimes goes right out the window... and character development goes on hold until the lines are more solid.  Having directed a number of shows, I can say with confidence that the BOA cast did a pretty fine job.  We got through all of Act 1 without any major set-backs... and no tears.

On Friday, Lighting Designer Bob Cooley and his assistant Chole came down to begin the process of setting the lights.  We spent the first hour talking through some notes Jonni and I had made about the mood we would like the lighting to evoke.  Bob had a number of great ideas  so we're off to a good start, but a long way from where we need to be in less than two weeks.  Lighting will play a huge role in setting the tone of this piece.

Then we come to Saturday... all day rehearsal 10 am - 4 pm.  That may sound exhausting and daunting, but it was absolutely terrific.  Normally we rehearse 8 pm - 10:30 pm on week nights.  We all have day jobs and families, so that's just how it works out.  Two and half hours at the end of the day is a tight window and doesn't allow a lot of room for fun.  Why do we need fun in the rehearsal room?  Well, theatre is a creative process and we are all at our best when we can take the time and build an atmosphere where everyone is in a playful frame of mind.  We made a lot of progress on act 2 on Saturday, enjoyed some pizza, and worked with our fight choreographer Jason Kaplan.  All in all, a terrific rehearsal.

Finally, last night we rehearsed from 7-10:30 pm.  Yes, it was Mother's Day, but it could not be avoided.  It was the only rehearsal that playwright Jim Henry could attend prior to tech week so it was very important that we run the entire show.  Normally, we would not run this early and, I'm not going to lie, it was rough.  Putting everything together is a workout for the brain cells.  I did see a lot of great things developing.  The scenes between the three blood brothers are coming along nicely.  The are very natural and have an excellent synergy together on stage.  Josh (playing Leonard, the lead role) is bringing a lot of new things to the table.  He is pushing himself and playing with his character choices.  Other than blocking and a few character notes, we've been a bit hands off with Josh.  He doesn't need any prodding to continue to work and develop his character.  Now, with just shy of two weeks left, we'll be honing in on his choices so that we really define Leonard for the audience.  I'm looking forward to it! He is an incredibly responsive actor and very ready to move forward.

I truly appreciate all the hard work our (volunteer) actors have put in thus far as evidenced by their committment to work on Mother's day and all day Saturday.  They take this process very seriously and approach it with a professionalism and passion that leaves me in awe.  

Following rehearsal we chatted with Jim for a couple of hours making some minor script adjustments, getting his feedback on the run, and addressing anything that's just not quite working.  I was relieved to hear his comments.  They were largely positive and certainly very supportive.  Having been away from rehearsal for a week and a half, Jim gave us a whole new perspective on how far we've come in such a short time.  He feels like we're in great shape with just under 2 weeks left and I have to agree.  He will join us again in exactly a week.

I'm off to do a bit of homework on the script.  Tonight, we work through Act 2 ... tighten, refine, clarify... repeat.