First day of rehearsal. I love this part of the process. It reminds me of the first day of school…
Everyone is nervous to meet their new class mates, yet the nerves are somehow balanced with the joy and excitement of the new adventure they are embarking on. We arrive, having spent the morning prettying ourselves up for first impressions sake and warming up our voices with diction exercises, “red leather yellow leather” and a few “me me ma ma mo mo mo’s”. Not to mention our bodies that we forced out of bed earlier than usual so we could fit in a yoga routine. “I need to be prepared for anything” we think to ourselves during our sun salutations.
We arrive at the hall, say hello to dear old friends that we’ve worked with in the past. Some we haven’t seen in 10 years, but we hug like it was yesterday and try to catch up in 5 minutes. We introduce ourselves to the new faces, and try to find a common colleague we can talk about to take the pressure off the first awkward two minutes of conversation. Then, just as we are feeling the relaxation set in, we are called to the table.
The leaders greet us with opening speeches, welcome us on board, introduce their comrades, and ask us all to go around the table and say who we are. The leaders then tells us their vision for the piece and ask the designer to present the costume and set design… Ooooo! the world we are about to live in for 3 months. I love this part! He begins by showing us a scale model of the set. Whenever this happens, I can’t help envisioning a kid and their toyhouse of miniatures. They show you little chairs and ladders, and explain how scene changes happen using little lego like people. Small pieces of fabric and staircases are placed in various positions and we all cheer feeling enamoured by the talent and time that went in to making such a piece. On to costumes… they hold up drawings of your character and show you what you will be wearing and when. This is when comments start being thrown out… “I better get to the gym” says an actor after seeing the drawing of her in a bra and panties, or “I’m happy to cut my hair like it is in your drawing” says a keen actor wanting to show their willingness. The designers vision is absolutely stunning and his drawings make you want to put on your costumes immedietely. He has clearly read the play several times and understands each and every character. What a gift.
We break for coffee and donuts. This is when the leaders get to release the nerves that have controlled them over the last two hours of sharing their thoughts and showcasing their designs. Meanwhile, you feel the actors nerves rising as they know after the break they are READING THE PLAY for the first time.
We do and it is exhilarating. One of the most cherished moments for me in the process is hearing the company that the leaders spent hours matching and assembling, tell the story together for the first time. With each character that joins in comes a new colour, a new layer. It truly is magic. This one was no exception… I was pumped to be sharing the room with such talent, both in the story and outside molding the story.
After the reading, a shift occurs. All of the nerves seem to subside and you feel the room ready to start THE WORK. From this moment forward it’s all about the building blocks. Over the next three weeks you will begin to retain an unbelievable amount of information, both physically and mentally. Over the next three weeks all that will be in your head 24 hours a day are pieces of the puzzle. From harmony lines and choreography to your characters intention and desires all topped with “things to think about” given to you by the leaders on a daily basis.
The rehearsal process, doing the work, the best part. You must enjoy every second of it because before you know it, it’s OPENING NIGHT!
Here we go.. a 5 6 7 8.