Saturday, April 9, 2011

Music and Collaboration in Without Which nothing

We gathered on a balmy Friday night for our next- to-last rehearsal  at Emory for the staged reading performance of Without Which Nothing. The goal of the evening seemed to be to polish and heighten dynamics we had previously touched on.

Rehearsal began with listening to a capella arrangements  that some cast members made of the songs in the script. After hearing the original arrangements sung, both cast and director decided that trying a new arrangement during the reading was worthwhile. One of the actors, Madeline Teisller, had the best arrangement of the night that included layered voices and a beautiful melody.
After listening, the Well Women (Robin Iriele, Madeline, and  I) were tasked with learning  the new arrangements. The actors who play Dr. Which and Janet, Clint Thornton and Sophie Edwards, were asked to find moments during their scenes together to face each other and when to face the audience. Percival and Jules, Nick Surbey and Erin Weller, worked on staging choices. 

Raven, played by Josh Izaak, was given a new monologue from our dramaturg and writing contributor, Barry Carman.  Dr. Which, Dr. What, and Janet also gained a scene, once Margaret arrived.
With our additions, we began a full read through. Matt and Margaret discussed and decided on blocking. Our director and our playwright guided us through different takes on character interaction as it pertains to the direction of the actor’s gaze during a staged reading. After trying a few things, a decision was reached.

Raven is the only character for whom many so many parameters are different as he is both in, yet above the action. We played with this character’s rule breaking abilities. Nick played around with Percival’s voice, and staging dynamics were worked out for his interaction with Raven.
We spent some quality time on our staging of the prologue/opening sequence. In my humble opinion, I think the end result is quite striking and I can’t wait to see and hear the audience’s reaction to it. It gives a clear impression of the mythic element to the story and establishes the characters in a subtle but engaging way.

We used the last section of rehearsal to clarify characters within the Well Women narrative and to trim repetitive dialogue from the revamped script. Helpful notes about pacing and vocalization were given by Matt and adjustments were made.
We are so close to the finish line of this part of the development process. I am torn between pride and nerves about our reading. But I am also looking ahead to the play’s next stage.

-Mauree M. Culberson
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