On The Set

Wednesday we arrived for our first of two days of spacing rehearsals.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a spacing rehearsal.  Usually the first day we’re in the theatre we’re also in costume with the lights and sound technicians starting their work with actors on stage.  Every director has a different way of working and Susan wanted a couple of days of spacing in the theatre before we started full-blown technical rehearsals.  The play was blocked at this point, at least in theory, but actually getting on the set changes things a great deal.  We now have levels to work on, we have chairs for the audience that gives us an idea of the sight lines and who might be able to see what, and we have our actual entrances that are always a bit longer to travel than the ones in the rehearsal hall.  Spacing rehearsals allow us to put some of the bigger scenes on the actual set and see if the blocking continues to fit the confines of the space.  We were able to make some adjustments that will allow us to go more rapidly through the technical rehearsals, thus making the whole process go faster.

I had a breakthrough during our spacing rehearsal Wednesday evening.  I had been struggling with Pistol in the Boar’s Head for a few days.  I felt I’d reached a plateau and I couldn’t make the next step in elevating the character.  Susan had said that the scene needed to have a syncopated pandemonium and I’d been working really hard to give it that.  I’d probably been working too hard, thus the problem.  I was trying to incorporate all of the elements that I’ve previously discussed while still speaking the text with a drunken alacrity and also just being safe with the sword and other physical elements in the scene.

Those of you who’ve attended a show in the Studio Theatre know it’s, well, intimate.  You’ll be amazed with what Rebecca Hamlin, our Scenic Designer,  has created.  The audience seating is arranged on either end of the room with the playing space in the middle.  There are levels on each side of the playing space: on one side a set of stairs climbs at increments of eight inches to a platform and on the other side a broader platform sits only at eight inches from the deck.  This leaves a flat, narrow space running on a diagonal through the middle of the space.  The Boar’s Head tavern has two trestle tables with benches on each side in the middle of the flat playing space.  As Pistol I get to climb atop the table and yell at the heavens.  As I said, I was having trouble with this scene but once we got into the actual space with all of the levels and the furniture new opportunities presented themselves.  By having concrete obstacles to navigate I was able to take my mind off the words and focus more on the physical challenges of moving through the space.  When one is actually drunk the challenge becomes trying not to appear drunk which usually means you have to focus just a little more on walking a straight line and not stumbling.  I have the steps to climb from which I’m able to step onto a stool and then launch myself up onto a table.  It’s great!  I was able to find so much new stuff by working in the space. 

After two days of spacing rehearsals we were ready to start our technical rehearsals, confident that our blocking was solidly established and now ready to light.


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