We are coming to the end of rehearsals for week three! So far, we’ve been blocking scenes beginning at the top of Act One and rolling right on through the script. By the end of the week, the show will be fully blocked and we will have the opportunity to start really digging into the script...creating relationships and forming three-dimensional characters.
These early rehearsals are where you start to get to know your fellow cast members: how they speak, how they move, and how they polka (more on that another day). Because we are portraying a family (not to mention a large family that lives in a very small apartment) there is a remarkable amount of physical intimacy between characters. For my character, that includes hugging, cradling a child’s face in my hands, kissing, rubbing someone’s back in comfort, and breaking up a fist fight, among other things.
Let’s be honest, that is a lot of touching for a group of people who hardly know each other.
And, by the time this show opens, that level of intimacy has to feel completely comfortable and look entirely natural in order for the audience to believe it.
For many of us, the biggest challenge will be getting ourselves “off book” (i.e., learning our lines so that we don’t have to walk around with a script in our hands anymore) as soon as possible. That way, we can start to talk to each other as characters instead of just reading lines from a script. Once that happens, it frees us up to create fully-formed characters and build the relationships between them.
We’re getting there…slowly, but surely. For some of us—okay, for me, specifically—it is very difficult to slowly tear down the walls that you build up in your daily life in order to make yourself vulnerable enough to participate in the process. As actors, we make a conscious decision to make ourselves vulnerable. Time after time, our job is to stand in front of groups of strangers and ask for their acceptance—including auditions, rehearsals, and each and every performance. And, for some of us—okay, for me, specifically—it is the feeling of being able to trust in the safety net of acceptance from your fellow cast members that makes participating even possible.
Lyric Arts' Managing Director Laura Tahja Johnson is playing the role of Ellen Pazinski in Over the Tavern which opens on April 13, 2012. Tickets on sale now online or at through the box office at 73-422-1838.