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Wrong again, right again

Your Humble Blogger should probably update y’all on the rehearsals for Bountiful. Not much to tell, though. It’s a compressed rehearsal schedule—for Valmont I had nine weeks, I think, while this is thirty-one days between first rehearsal and Opening Night.

Directors are different, one to another, you know. Our Director for this show is not one of the ones who maps out the whole show beforehand. He waves us up there to see what seems comfortable; if it looks good, we can do it that way again, and if it looks terrible, he’ll come up with something else. It has led to some moments I didn’t enjoy much, as he doesn’t have the script in front of him, and all of us have had a good deal of difficulty figuring out exactly what he means, what line he is referring to, that sort of thing. The ideas are good ones, but it takes a little while to figure out what they are. And sometimes they aren’t any good, because he has forgotten that this cross is not that other one, so we can’t eliminate it, or else we will have to reblock the whole next beat. That sort of thing.

One of the things I was very skeptical about was how early we are off-book. Well, and I suppose it isn’t all that early counting backwards from Opening, but as we live forwards, it meant that each scene had only two on-book rehearsals. One blocking rehearsal, one rehearsal holding the book and doing the blocking (and changing it of course), and then off-book. Each rehearsal involved running the scene more than once, of course, although we stopped and started a lot. And we just didn’t have all the lines. I thought the first few off-book rehearsals would be disastrous.

And, in fact, from the point of view of line-memorizations, it wasn’t good. But our Director made it clear that it was perfectly fine to call for lines—this wasn’t a test, and he knew we didn’t have it all in our heads yet, but he wanted our hands to have the props, not the books, and he wanted us to look at each other. And it worked. At least, the bits that I was in, so far. Yes, we wandered around the lines, quite a bit. My bad habit of approximating the lines is exacerbated by this sort of thing, and I may discover in the next two weeks that these early off-book rehearsals have ruined me for the actual lines. But the scenes started to have some shape and some rhythm. We went through the long first scene with only a few interruptions, and we have been through the second and third scenes multiple times, now, with prompts shouted in from the stage manager, but without stopping at all. And I’m starting to see the show.

One of the things about continuing to do theater is the discovery of new and different ways to do it right. And wrong, of course. But right is better. And I don’t know about you, but it’s always a bit humbling (in a good way) to be reminded that other people’s obviously wrong answers are often right answers, too.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,