Rehearsal for Act II, scene 1. Puppet show chaos is about to erupt!
One thing I can say about these extremely short rehearsal periods is that growth happens in sudden spurts. Not that I should find it terribly surprising given we simply don’t have the luxury to allow things to sit and marinate. We had a couple of rough days and after the Thanksgiving respite, I was anxiously anticipating Friday’s run through - the first run through of the entire show. Before we began, I reviewed a couple of short sections and then ran through the two most difficult portions of the show: the puppet show and the Snakes and Ladders sequence. The actors approached the sections with a nervous energy lacking in confidence which led to slow cue pick-up and an uneven pace. It was not what I was hoping for.
I took a deep breath, there was nothing to do but be encouraging, remind them to pick up the cues, to stay focused, and be confident.
We set up for Act I with all the little makeshift props we had gathered over the past week - empty water bottles, paper coffee cups, and other bits of garbage that were being endowed into puppets, wine glasses, Christmas ornaments, and fine china. I braced myself for the run. In all honesty, Act I was what I had expected given we hadn’t approached the material for about a week. The blocking ran smoothly and some of the moments really clicked - Phyllis’ ill-fated seduction of Clive and Rachel’s constant lurking around corners stood out as particularly memorable moments. While the pace was slow and sometimes uneven, I could see the shape emerging and felt very encouraged that we were on track.
Act II was another story entirely. It clipped along at a breezy pace and built to a logical comic climax. After the first run of the puppet sequence earlier in the evening, my hopes were not high - but that section came together with a ferocious energy and a good sense of the overlap. It was all a bit magical quite honestly. Something seemed to click for the first time. I could see the elements gelling together nicely and the continuity of the show.
Clive (Steven Peirick) tries to let down Rachel (Rachel Hanks) gently while Bernard (Phillip Bozich) tends to his beloved puppet show.
And now it’s time to throw more complicated elements into the mix. Yesterday was spent working through sound cues which will help bring the Bunker’s holiday home to life. The sound designer, Robin Weatherall, is meticulous and extremely skilled in adding that layer of realism into the world of a play. He came with an appropriate television underscoring and a wonderful selection of saccharine holiday pop music. I’m very eager to add this in at tonight’s rehearsal.
Construction of the Bunker home.
Tonight will also be a huge step forward as it means our first night in the space! I could jump up and down I’m so excited to see everything on the stage with levels, doors, and real props. No doubt this will lead to complications and problems to be solved … but that’s my job. We are at a good place in terms of characterization and movement on the part of the actors. Time to take that next leap forward!