Thursday, April 7, 2011

Without Which Nothing Rehearsals

Despite the stormy night that preceded it, we met for our first Brave New Works rehearsal at Emory
for Out of Hand’s and Margaret Baldwin’s Without Which Nothing. We were situated on the same floor
as two other BNW pieces being rehearsed that night. We began in a circle and in the middle of it all of
course………a pitcher of water.

Our wonderful director, Matt Huff, began our introductions with a watery twist. He asked each of us to
describe our most scary, sacred, and/or awe inspiring moment with water. The replies varied greatly.
They included nearly drowning, getting caught in dangerous storms, falling off a boat while fishing, and
falling into water in the dark of the woods.

For our first task we turned our attention towards 3 image boards that our lead writer, Margaret
Baldwin, made. Each board contained images that described in visuals some aspects of the 3 narratives
(often called streams) in the play.

We were split into two groups and asked to make 3 slides (stage pictures) inspired by or based upon one
image what we as a group selected from the image boards. Matt gave us the use of chairs and music
stands but we were not to use speech or movement. The slides we came up with were although still
very active and gave the feel of movement. Stand outs included all the actors in one group lying on their
backs in a circle balancing chairs above them. Another of note included a group lift of one actor.

When talking with the other contributors at break, I found that we shared similar feelings after the
initial rehearsal read through of the script. It was great to hear new voices and perspectives on words
that to us contributors seem old. Hearing the interpretations of fresh eyes on the words breathed into
them new life. Things that were funny months ago but not weeks ago were funny again. A slight change
in pacing made pieces that didn’t seem to fit well together flow beautifully. Subtext was rediscovered.

After a break, there was a discussion about Out of Hand’s ensemble approach to creating new work.
Barry, our dramaturg and one of the contributors, spoke of the importance of different voices within
the company coming together to make the play truly poly-vocal. Margaret spoke of her role as head
writer and writing coach on the project and of taking the many voices and making them meld into part
of a whole while still retaining what is important about each of them. (That is a huge undertaking! Go
Margaret.) Erin and I, both writing contributors, spoke of our research and talked a bit about how we
contributed to the writing process, as well as the ever important rewriting process.

There was much talk of science and myth as it relates to water. We chatted about water origin stories
from many different cultures, astrobiology terms and themes, frogs as bioindicators, and waterborne
diseases. We wanted to somewhat familiarize the cast with some of these ideas that we have been
researching and concentrating on these past few months.

As one of our last assignments we were to use one line in the script per character and demonstrate
how we would play that scene if we were given full physical range for the performance but were only
allowed to use our music stand and chair. It was revealing to play with physical distance with the script
and explore what that added to character development.

We had a blast and are looking forward to reading more and helping shape this project into its final

-- Mauree Culberson
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