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Our first week rehearsing Two Gents flew by! After attending the terrific opening night of Much Ado, we had our first day of rehearsal on Tuesday December 6. I love first rehearsals of every show, but particularly at STC, where the day starts off with meeting and greeting every single person who works at the theater. It’s overwhelming, exciting and utterly impressive. Michael always gives a funny speech, then the set and costumes are revealed and the director and designers give a pitch letting everyone know what’s in store. Then there is the thrill of meeting the cast, feeling kind of like it’s the first day of school, shaking hands with the people that are about to become your family for the next several months.
The week went fast. We worked quickly and tackled way more than I can ever remember tackling in a first week. We were together as a complete cast for the first day and initial read-through. By day two we were broken into smaller groups and started working scene by scene with the usual work you do “at table” – discussing scenes, character, emotional arcs, everything. Also, with Shakespeare plays there’s a lot of very necessary discussion of the language itself, what everything means, alternative meanings, rhetoric, etc – and how to employ that language so that the story and meaning is clear but that the verse is also being honored. Ellen O’Brien worked with most of us individually, and her sessions are always extremely useful, one of my favorite aspects of rehearsing plays at STC. A lot of the first week was spent getting to know each other, actor to actor, actor to director, and director to actors. It’s a crazy thing we do as theater artists, every few months jumping into a very intense and often intimate experience with complete strangers. Building a play involves working on the text and all design and production elements but also, and I think most essentially, forging new working relationships with your collaborators. I think many people who don’t do theater assume that all actors, directors, designers speak the same language and are trained in similar methodologies. But that is so often not the case. Sometimes it feels more like you have a room full of impressionist, surrealist, abstract expressionist, and landscape painters making a mural together.
We finished off the week with a second read/ run through of sorts. It was kind of amazing to see how much had changed in only one week, and it was great to get back in the room with everyone. Our acting fellows are doing double duty right now – acting, singing and dancing up a storm in Much Ado (I think a few are playing instruments too, a talented bunch). So, we only see them early in the morning on certain days when they aren’t performing Much Ado, or in understudy rehearsals for it. There are other members of our company with whom I don’t share any stage time during Act I and so hadn’t seen all week, except possibly on the street in passing, or coming in and out of rehearsal. I, for one, felt extremely psyched about the work I saw everyone doing. I think we have a pretty amazing group of artists and I’m excited to see where this journey takes us.