We ran Act I last night. And it was amazingly good. Not ready-to-open good, but definitely three-weeks-out good.
There are lots of choral actions which need to be solidified. But that’s always the case at this stage in the process. Asking twenty or more people to individually remember to do the same thing at the same time is a big ask. But when they do it, it’s a big pay-0ff.
I don’t know what it is about unison movement, but it gets me every time. A group of people simply raising their right arms in unison can be breathtaking.
Likewise with canon movement. A line of folks doing the same motion or gesture, but at musically defined intervals. Each one, on their own, and on the beat. It’s beautiful when it happens.
And here’s the thing. We have organized chaos, interspersed with unison gesture, interspersed with canon movement. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s breathtaking.
It’s movement that works like music.
But, as with music, we have to get it right or it’s wrong. We’re going to get it right! We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do, but we’ve got three weeks in which to do it.
And then there’s the acting component.
Just like the music and movement, acting is a long string of both solo and ensemble beats. An actor says a line, another actor responds — they’re collaborating, but each has a unique voice. And sometimes all the actors say or do the same thing at once. The overall scene must be balanced, and each voice must both blend with the others and fully inhabit it’s own solo moments.
In rehearsals during the previous week I’d given a few simple acting notes and was delighted to see them come to life in last night’s run-through.
Some of the notes had to do with Timing — when words/actions occur. Some had to do with Inflection — which words are emphasized by using a different vocal attack. Some notes had to do with Impulse — why these specific words are spoken. And some notes had to do with Interpretation — the unique quality of this specific actor speaking these specific words as this specific character at this specific time.
And some notes had to do with all of the above.
The results were both inspired and surprising. Which is a good thing!
In theater, you want the actor to be inspired and you want the audiene to be surprised — surprise is the root of both comedy and of tragedy. It jolts you out of complacency and makes you take notice. It encourages you to see things anew. I could go on and on on this topic….
Timing, Inflection, Impulse, Interpretation. Inspiration.
They’ll surprise and delight you every time.