We had several good review sessions this week; going back and tweaking previously staged material, as well as reviewing sections which had never quite gelled. Great focus, effort, and patience from everyone involved!
By and large, the cast is pretty much off-book. So it is much easier for them to fully execute the choreography — and for me to see what it really looks like. I never know for sure about staging and choreography until I can see the actors performing it at full tilt. Until this point it has only existed in my head, and what one imagines isn’t always the same as what one gets.
I’ve come to realize that I often imagine staging as if performed by cartoon characters. So I may sometimes ask the actors to perform the impossible…. feats requiring rubber limbs, nanosecond timing, or even levitation. I usually gain enough perspective to spot these lunatic aspirations before presenting them as choreography notes, but not always.
So we spent the week making some moments a bit more realistically achievable, while also continuing to work towards perfecting some of the other difficult, yet attainable, feats.
Another thing that happens at this stage of rehearsals is that I am able to stand back and observe. And discover! That’s the fun part. The way I envision choreography and the way the actors perform it are not always the same. And I embrace that difference. I try to make it clear from the beginning that I’m giving them a blueprint on which to build their performance. I’m not expecting them to emulate the way I would perform it, nor my vision of how it should be performed.
So, especially when watching group choreography, I love to discover new accents and nuances which the actors are bringing to the work. As they learn it and grow comfortable with it they naturally start to make it their own….. to bring their own perspective to the work. They may add a hand gesture, or perform a rotation in a different way, or even change steps or small phrases into something different — which is more comfortable (and looks better!) on their bodies. These are all exciting discoveries. I love finding them; and applauding them.
We’ve got just under one month until opening night. That time will be spent in much the way as this week was. Reviewing, refining and, perhaps most importantly, re-discovering.