A word of advice to actors everywhere: learn your lines, lyrics, blocking, and choreography as quickly as possible — so the real work can begin.
The goal isn’t just to be ready for opening night, but to be prepared far enough in advance to allow time for working, re-working, tweaking, and re-discovering everything many times over before you share it with an audience.
Because the first choice isn’t always the best one. And the director’s original vision might’ve been all wrong. Or perhaps just not completely right.
In the course of running through both “Trial by Jury” and “Thespis” this week, a little section of “Thespis” has been persistently bugging me. Earlier, I’d chalked it up to actors learning lines and staging, since that phase of rehearsal can always seem a bit tentative.
But, now the actors have their lines down and it still hasn’t felt quite right. Every night I’d watch it and it would bug me and I’d mull it over. And then we’d run it again the next night.
Everything was working fine as it was. All the actors were saying and doing what they should. But something was missing. The whole section just felt flat.
Then it hit me that it needed another layer. There was just too little going on.
So last night I brought the chorus of Olympian gods onstage to join the scene. And suddenly what had been abstract became beautifully specific!
Diana and Apollo bemoan the aged state of the gods — and now the gods are there to moan with them.
Mercury complains of being overworked by the gods — and now the gods are there to take umbrage at his claims.
Mercury lists off the items he’s brought back from Earth — and now the gods are there to fight over the spoils.
What had been wistful, unfocused and a bit sleepy is now entertainingly enlivened with a pointed, bickering energy. It’s fun! And it’s just what we needed.
The original blocking and delivery for Diana, Apollo, and Mercury have remained exactly the same — but now it’s underscored by a chorus of Olympian gods.
And who wouldn’t want to be underscored by a chorus of Olympian gods?