Malvolio Production Diary: first blocking rehearsal

First blocking rehearsal was last night. We did IV, ii, which I have been calling the torture scene. My director calls it the prison scene, which is a huge difference in outlook. I’ll have to start calling it the prison scene as well… we’re flying down a wall with a barred window, so I will be partially visible to the audience. I’m told the design for the prison isn’t final yet; I didn’t think of it at the time, but I will mention tonight that it seems funnier to me if the window is very, very small. Small enough that I have to look through one eye or the other, or press my ear to it to hear. I could be wrong about that, of course, but I should suggest it. That would also help with the it’s really dark in here lines. Which are sometimes cut, of course, but don’t seem to be for our production.

Anyway, as a blocking rehearsal, my blocking behind the little window (or however big the window winds up being) is pretty limited. In fact, I’m just standing there for the whole scene. I’ve practically memorized it already. The blocking for Feste is harder, of course, as all the visual effect of the scene is on her. So that’s all right.

The show that’s currently up at the theater was having a pick-up rehearsal, so we were scheduled to use the space downstairs, which is actually a lovely big rehearsal space. As we arrived, though, the director and stage manager observed that it was an absolutely lovely evening, and accordingly we held rehearsal outside. It was a relaxed atmosphere, with a fair amount of joking and whatnot, but we still got a lot done. That’s pretty impressive for a rehearsal this early in the game. Our director also invented some lovely bits of business, which was nice, and also threw out a bit that didn’t work and redid it, which is very impressive.

I have spoken before of the spectrum for directors, running from those on the one end who let the actors do whatever the hell they feel and those on the other who treat actors as marionettes. Our director clearly leans more toward the marionettish end, although he has already shown the ability to throw out his prepared ideas when he finds they don’t work. That combination is an excellent one. We’ll see how he is at accepting actors’ ideas. The combination of a marionette-style director with the ability to incorporate new ideas (from actors) and toss out any ideas that turn out not to work is my favorite. Other actors may prefer a more improvisational approach, or care much more about the other things that a director can be good or bad at (efficient use of time, communication generally, blocking, creating visual pictures, bringing in and working with specialists (for fight choreography or mime work or music or whatnot), publicity, casting, etcetera etcetera), but a director with that combination of preparation and judicious open-mindedness suits me down to the ground.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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