Sharpening the Focus

We had a great review of Act III yesterday.  We clarified some fuzzy moments; sharpened some blocking; resolved some spacing issues; discussed some motivations; and started adding smaller details throughout.

I often liken mounting a production to creating a painting.  I speak in terms of big strokes and small strokes; and how there is a progression from creating the basic outline to filling it in with smaller details.

We have now painted the entire production in big bold strokes.  We know when the curtain will rise, we know where and when all entrances and exits will occur, where singers will stand, choreography in songs and movement patterns in scenes, and we know when the curtain will fall.  That may sound pretty darn basic.  But with a large cast and a complicated score, getting that initial framework in place, and making certain it is equally clear in everyone’s mind, can be quite a challenge.

While we may spend some time over the next few weeks emphasizing the boldness of those initial strokes, we will also begin to add fine details wherever we are able.  We’ll work on timing, group responses, variation, modulation, sharpness and surprise.  We’ll add curlicues and codas.  And we’ll constantly look for ways to add colorful accents to our basic design.

In other news, I had a meeting with our lighting designer last week to discuss the bold strokes of the lighting design.  We discussed the general areas of lighting, the specials and spots we’ll be using, the different moods we hope to create, and the special effects we hope to achieve.

And we discussed the cues.  This is called a “paper tech.”  It is done in many different ways in different companies and for different productions. For us it was done to some degree via email and then over coffee before a rehearsal.  We went through the entire libretto and marked each place where we anticipate a lighting change.  This initial draft includes about 150 lighting cues.  That averages out to more than a cue per minute and doesn’t include cues for the follow spot, cues for the fly rail, nor the 50 or more additional cues we’re sure to add before all is said and done.

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