Friday, April 8, 2011

Without Which Nothing Show Development

The second night of Brave New Works rehearsal was a mix of physical work, character analysis and in-depth discussion of questions regarding structure and development.

Matt Huff, our fearless leader, kicked off the night by challenging us to create three non-moving stage pictures inspired by the opening image of the play. He then chose one picture and had us experiment with movement as Raven, the first character we meet in the play, read his beginning monologue.   This exercise allowed us to experience the tone and imagery of the scene in a new way. Matt also let us play with setting up our chairs and reading stands in a way that reflected our relationships to each other. The result was unconventional for a typical staged reading, but certainly expressed our characters!

Concentrated work began on the first two scenes. Madeline, Robin and Mauree worked on adding song and music to their scene, as well deepening their understanding of the relationship between the women they portray. Josh explored how bombastic his anthropomorphic character, Raven, should be – where should he emphasize his performance, and where should the words speak for themselves? When is he bird-like, and when is he human? Matt insightfully encouraged actors reading stage directions to think of themselves as engaged storytellers, setting the action for the audience, instead of objective voices that merely relate information.

Margaret, our lead writer, brought new scenes she wanted to hear out loud, helping her consider how to shift the scenes from talking about action to real theatrical action. It was especially helpful to hear comments from our non-writer cast members about what images and moments stood out to them, what was funny, what confused them, etc. This lead to discussion about why characters tell stories in the play, and what those stories can/should reveal. One of our actors, Clint, offered very perceptive ideas about how to use physical action to weave points of a story more organically into one of the new scenes we had just read. We also discussed the challenge of distilling our massive amounts of fascinating scientific  research into a few sentences that reveal the world of the play without explaining too much.

We left rehearsal with many questions, and are eager to jump back in at Friday’s rehearsal.

--Erin Weller Dalton
Without Which Nothing Show DevelopmentSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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