A first peek backstage

Welcome! You have officially entered the musings (read: ramblings) of a first-time Lyric Arts Actor. Woo-Hoo! This is essentially a public diary to clue you all in on what goes through the mind of an actor while rehearsing a show A) at Lyric Arts and B) with the awe-inspiring Bob Neu. So a little bit about me: My name is Emily.

More you say? Well, I’m in the unique position of being both an actor and a staff member here at Lyric. If you’re a frequent patron of our arts you’ve probably seen me running around like a chicken with its head cut off during a show. This is called ‘House Managing.’ I also do some administration work during the week. I’m still new, I only just started in September, but I assure you this is the most fun I have ever had. If you ever get a chance to work here (volunteering totally counts!) I would highly recommend it. Also, I haven’t done theatre in about four years. Nerves much? Oh yeah.

Now, having sat in on a few of Bob Neu’s rehearsals in the past I had a general idea of what it was going to be like to work with him. He is gentle with his actors, never shouting or berating them into giving him what he wants, but he has a definite vision for how the scene should play, sound and look and he will not settle for less. It’s incredible. I’ve seen him run the same scene with the same two actors and lead them from a nothing-special scene to a place where he is happy with their delivery, but he gives them room to wiggle and find their character's voice. The combination of the two can be breathtaking.

I think that brings us, more or less, to today. My first rehearsal. Holy Bajeezus I’m nervous.

Now the rest of the cast has been rehearsing for the past two weeks, but my parts are pretty small so I haven’t been needed until now. Let me tell you, they’re AWESOME. Everyone seems to be playing at the top of their game, taking the full weight of Miller’s words and making them seem effortless. There’s a healthy combination of seasoned Lyric veterans and fresh faces that brings an energy of giddiness to the rehearsals. It can be hard for an actor that is not in very many scenes to bond well with the actors who spent hours together night after night. But, gosh darn it. I’m gonna try.

So I get there about an hour early. Partially so I can watch the earlier rehearsals and see how everything seems to be going, and partially so I can write this blog. But mostly to watch them. They’re rehearsing the exuberant family moment right before my big entrance. As I sit here and watch and write and write and watch Bob turns around and says, “Now you’re going to move these chairs into position and get ready to go on.” WHAT?! We’re 45 minutes ahead of schedule! I haven’t fully prepared yet, I’m still not quite sure what to do with my hands, and my hair looks awful! He can’t expect me go on like this. And yet, he does. And so on I go. 15 minutes later I have a new accent, a new attitude, and a newfound purpose-driven character. That right there? That was magic. I also get to go home early which is nice. I wonder how often that will happen...