It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day here in North Carolina. I took my coffee outside this morning and enjoyed the blooms of daffodil, hellebore, and flowering quince as I did a little walk-about of my awakening garden.
Then I drove into town and spent three and a half hours in a cold, windowless basement along with thirty or so other folks — all committed to creating and presenting the best darn production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Grand Duke” we possibly can.
We’re far enough into the rehearsal process that Sundays are now largely dedicated to reviewing already-staged material. I still have some staging to do, but we also have plenty in our back pockets which must be learned, re-learned, and kept fresh.
We ran Act I in it’s entirety. Hooray! Still a lot of cleaning up and memorization to be done, but it’s fully staged and in good shape.
Then we ran what we have of Act II — which is a large chunk of the middle, but not much of the beginning nor the end. Still, a good deal of material to review and refresh.
In addition to encouraging the cast to become more and more familiar and confident with the material, reviewing the staging allows me to sit back and watch what we have wrought.
I can step out of “teaching” mode and critically observe.
One big insight this “observing” mode offered today related to our Human Roulette Wheel, which we’d just staged earlier this week. I knew it needed a little more work, but was generally happy with it.
But today I sat back and watched; and realized the structure was all wrong. I had created the same “gimmick” for all three verses. The original concept was still strong, but the choreography was redundant and a bit clunky.
So we turned it inside out! Now verse one is outside the wheel, verse two is inside the wheel, and verse three is outside the wheel yet again — with a slight variation. There’s still a bit of tweaking to be done at the end, but the new flip-flopped structure is vastly more intriguing.