Day One: Meet and Greet, Blocking Scene One

Posted by A Quiet Man with a Loud Voice | Labels: , , , , , , | Posted On Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Two things first!

1. As the week goes along, I'll probably be revising past entries. I will try not to do anything dramatic, like add whole new paragraphs, but instead just focus on fixing grammar errors and typos (comma splices are the bane of my existence). If I do happen to expand on a previous entry, I will announce it in the most recent blog post so that you can scroll back and check it out.

2. A welcome to all my cast mates! Please feel free to share your own thoughts on the process or use the blog as a forum to spitball character ideas amongst each other. From what I understand, Carol will be letting her class know of the blog as well. Any other viewpoints shared will just make this a more comprehensive resource for her class to use.

Having said that, I have to restate one of Dan's major rehearsal rules: "If you can't communicate something nice, don't communicate at all." This does not mean you are not allowed to disagree with me. Please do. Debate is a healthy form of communication. But if you do disagree with me, keep in mind you're probably wrong. :P

Onto the actual entry!

First rehearsal last night! It feels rather natural to be back at Kent Trumbull. I've been doing theatre there since 1991. I don't know if an actor can feel truly at home onstage - but if he can, its probably how I feel at KSU-TC. Eighteen years... damn. I knew Dan way back then too -- way, way, way back when he was young and spry.

Actually, judging from last night's rehearsal, he moves pretty well for an old guy...

I tease because I love.

Anyways. After the normal greeting and reading of the rules the actual rehearsal began.

Remember when I said I hate auditions? Well, I love rehearsals!

I actually love rehearsals so much that I become disappointed when the show finally goes up. I always feel there's so much more I could have learned and discovered through the rehearsal process. When the show finally goes up, this learning stops as I am forced to "lock down" the character.

For instance:

Warning: In-Depth Textual Analysis to Follow

Note: Any textual analysis in this blog will usually involve me blowing smoke out of my ass. I over-analyze everything. By the end of the rehearsal process, when I've "locked down" the character, I've discarded most of the ideas I've been kicking around. I'd estimate that I only end up using 20% of the concepts I've played with.

The first scene of the show opens in a wax museum with the gods complaining about the state of humanity. They then decide to bring in Death to teach mankind a lesson. It is Buddha who brings up Death first by saying, "It's time to call up another One."

There are two interesting things about this sentence.

1. The capitalization of the word One. Capitalizing a pronoun is a Euro-centric practice used when referring to the Judeo-Christian God. So what does this say about the personification of Death? Is Death considered another God? Or does Death exist outside the realm of both gods and men? Since Buddha refers to Death as "another one", the short answer is that Death is a god. The complex answer may be that Death is the axle of the wheels used symbolically throughout the play.

2. The fact that the gods can summon Death and subsequently order him around means that they do not consider Death to be on the same level as they are. So if Death exists somewhere caste-wise between the gods and men, is he the author's personification of a psychopomp? Or is Death simply a lesser deity much like Hades was a lesser being when compared to Zeus in Greek mythology?

There is a second moment in the first scene that I want to touch upon as well:

After the gods order Death to get Everyone, Death's first question is whether or not he should get everyone, i.e. - the entire world.

Is the sign of a malicious or mischievous psychopomp who wants to reap the souls of all of mankind? Or is he a merciful mediator between the living and spiritual worlds who is initially surprised by the term 'Everyone' and wants to make sure that the gods did not screw it up? Personally I'm going to stick with the latter, though I certainly can see some mischief in Death.

I'm holding off on expanding any of these ideas until blocking is fully done, though I will continue to toss up random thoughts throughout the blocking process. We don't start character work until week two, and there's no real reason to jump ahead in that game.

Random Note: the above analysis came from TWO lines in the span of thirty seconds. If this doesn't prove that I over-think things, I don't know what does.

End Analysis!

There were a few other interesting things that came up in the rehearsal process. The first is the problem of dueling languages. Since the play is both spoken and signed it's taking a creative effort on the part of the director to create something coherent without being distracting. I'll say this - I feel for Joe Toto and Jenna Cintavey - it seems like they're going to end up memorizing the entire script as they are the primary 'voice' actors. Mad props to them!

Well, I'm interested to know how some of the other actors viewed the first rehearsal. Especially those who haven't acted before. For me, everything seems very normal. But I imagine for someone who hasn't had the same experience would see something and say, "that's weird, grandma."

Second rehearsal tonight! We're scheduled to block scene two and to discuss Deaf culture. I'm interested to see if a better understanding of a culture that is mostly foreign to me unlocks any additional layers to the script.

I've been getting a lot of questions at rehearsal as to why I, as a mostly deaf person, have never learned sign language or been a part of Deaf culture. And honestly - I don't know. It was never something that came up in my life. My only experiences with Deaf culture have been courses in ASL, a few meetings with Deaf people, watching the Flying Words Project, and discussions with Carol.

I'm also hoping to add photos and videos to future entries if a) I can get the camera to work properly and b) I can manage to steal video from Carol's class.

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