Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Three Sisters: Rehearsal Journal

Running through Act I. Olga (Megan Grassl) describes her dream of returning to Moscow.
Working Through
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I have been lax on my rehearsal blogging this time around . . . very uncharacteristic of me! My only real excuse is the force with which we have jumped into this production and the amount of time we all spend as a cast and crew piecing it together.

At this point, the show is blocked and, I'm delighted to say, that the cast has been great about getting "off book" so that we can really delve into the characters and craft the more intimate moments and subtle changes that occur between the Prozorovs and their friends. The further I get into this process and the more I get to know of these characters, the more impressed I am with Chekhov's ability to explore the best and worst of human nature . . . and always with a sense of humor.

The Prozorovs are not unlike any of us, even though the family "lives" in 1900 (and in our production 1910). The relationship between the sisters - the way they look to each other for support, the way they get irritated with each other, the way they team up together to tease their brother is a sensitive exploration of family dynamic. Outside the play's familial relationships are the unrequited desires each character has. They obsess over the impossible, so much that it disrupts any possibility of happiness and peace. Nearly everyone in the play has a difficult time accepting reality and, interesting enough, the more educated and intelligent a character is, the more likely he or she is to philosophize themselves into misery.

Andrei (Michael Beaton) and Ferapont (Calvin Ward) in a brief philosophical discussion of life and pancakes.
Making little discoveries about characters is always a pleasure for me, but the further I get into this, the more issues of crafting detail pop up. One of the biggest challenges I'm running into is keeping the momentum of the play going in sections with multiple characters and plot lines going on. Typical of Chekhov, one group of characters will be interacting on one part of the stage while another group is sharing a different experience on another. How do you put this all together in a way where the scenes don't distract from each other? Very carefully, I'm discovering. Working through the larger scenes has been slow going, but productive. 

Chebutykin (Rick Wallace) and Irina (Richelle Jean-Bart) share a moment.
Last night we ran through Act I off book for the first time, a big step. And a revealing step. The elements for those section are in place and some pieces were working together very smoothly. Others are rough. It's to be expected at this stage in the game. Pace is going to be a big factor in this show (as with all shows) as well as blending the dual scenes. We'll get there. Little by little! (And eventually everyone will be pronouncing all the names correctly.)

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