This week, I have mostly been focused on the intentions section of my theatre notebook, as well as how my set/lighting will convey that. At this point I have decided that the play is basically a theme play, and that the theme I find most interesting and prominent is that of entrapment. Each vignette has some sort of entrapment in it, be it physical or emotional, or verbal, or drug related. It seems that the play uses the container of a car to make a comment on these deeper concepts of entrapment with the simple entrapment of the car. I think as I move forward it will be extremely important to catch this theme in everything I can, so as that the audience doesn't just understand the theme but feels it. Therefore my main intention is for the audience to feel the theme through their senses and through images and situations that give those senses.
After reading over the play I chose for my Directors Notebook again I realized a few interesting things. First, the play is not only about cars but in a more broad sense being trapped. The scenes or shorts do a good job of giving this feeling, of awkwardness or entrapment, yet I realized it may be important to carry this theme further. If I do I feel like it will allow the audience to take the meaning of the play and apply it to their own lives or other situations, allowing it not to just be trapped as a play. The other thing I realized was more technical. The play consists of a group of short scenes that are almost unrelated. They form a common theme, yet are different characters in different settings and times. I'm going to need to traverse this when I start thinking about transitions and the setting of my play.
This week consisted of two rehearsals, during both we reached good progress. During the first we restaged our play, putting out all of our new elements (boxes, clothes, etc) and, rehearsed our new movements/blocking. Making sure we had the correct amount of boxes and who moved what when so that at the end there are no boxes on stage. This also gave us an opportunity to run lines and refine our script. This ties into our second rehearsal, where we finished our script entirely. We applied the knowledge we gained from walking out the play the class before to fix the awkward sections of the script as well as finish the final section.
As we go into the next week I am both excited to be coming to a close with the project, but also stressed that we will not finish all the work that still needs to be completed. Monday we will preform for the other group, unfortunately not on the stage. None the less, it should be interesting to get more outside opinions.
I am reflecting now on two main events. The first being the recording of our piece before winter break. This process brought so much to light. We realized much of the work we thought was done needs a lot more work. For example we have realized we need to keep an actor offstage to do the complicated light changes. We are all entering at the same time now, as well as the general timeline being very different are two changes. We also are adding many more boxes to the stage in a hope to make the set feel more organic and lived in. These all felt like setback. I can tell you that much. The second event was a day we spent scripting the play (over break). This was felt to be necessary after we realized how awkward our dialogue was. This plays into the realization that we needed better character development as well.
As the director this has been a difficult time. I want everyone to feel as though we are moving forward, but the shock of these realizations kinda paralyzed our team. I feel as thought it will all work out in the end, It just is hard now.
This was an odd week, the mix of storms, the closure of projects, and the final beginning to ramp up has left morale a little... weird. We finished our props, and did run the entire play once, which was good. Now we are focusing on more rehearsals as well as possibly adding a bit more to the set (door and ring-able phone). As a director I need to in the next few weeks make sure the entire group including myself does not loose the momentum we had at the beginning of the month. We need to keep running things and attempting to improve the clarity and meaning. We are being filmed Monday, which is scary(our first pseudo live performance) and I really hope it goes well. I feel we are pretty prepared. Other than the little things and running the play over and over till it's second nature, we’re set.
At this point I feel it would be useful to reflect on being the director of our group. I do enjoy the position a lot, guiding people is what I like doing, I feel like I am obligated to being a leader a lot of the time. There is two things that are very difficult in our team to work around. The first being the energy. I wouldn't get rid of the energy of our group, it in a way has lead to the productivity and ingenuity of our production, though it is hard to work with sometimes. Finding ways to calm down enough people for a long enough time to get everyone on the same page is hard. I feel like I often find myself attempting to do this, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This leads to the second thing, peoples sensitivity. What we are doing is hard, stressful, and personal. I have found that I constantly need to be careful and conscious of what I, and others, are suggesting to other actors. There is a fine line between constructive criticism, and outright nagging. I feel this week I, as a director, handled some of this pretty well. Though, I will continue to be aware of these things as the production gets tighter and more stressful (approaching final date).
This week superficially wouldn't seem to have many large definable achievements, but in reality it marks our first week of, in my opinion, "rehearsal". Other than the final moment, we have the entire script more or less pinned down. We worked on refining our movements, clarity and purpose, as well as our dialog. Making sure it all fits with the story and theme of the piece. We have faced some stress just generally because of deadlines and the fact that this is a huge project on top of all the other work we have and it is scary. I am excited to have this project done, not in a mean spirited way, but more as though it needs to be finished. The goal for the next few weeks is to try and run the show as many times as possible, making sure all our ducks are in a row. We need to get everyone's roles outside of acting set. Off stage things need to be worked out as well as set and props needing finalization. We are almost there. Lots of little housekeeping things and rehearsal.
This week has been fun, we have compiled all of our moments into a timeline and filled in the parts in between with plot points to form a narrative. This was challenging, but it seem as though we had more than enough material to do so. We started acting in the space we will do our final performance in this morning. We did some lighting ques and generally got more of a feel for how the production may end up. Attached is a rough video of some of our improvisation, be aware that everything that isn't a moment (blue light) is completely devised, so a lot of it seems a bit disjointed or awkward. That's why we started doing this this early though, we needed to start getting that work done. I feel confident that by next week we will have a pretty rounded out form. Not complete or polished, but with all the needed parts.
This week was a bit hard. Many of the people in our group are involved in the other school theater production. This week was their "hell week", basically they were all mentally dead. This lead to a lot of acting exercises and only a bit of new devising work. Two things we accomplished were assigning troop roles and the solidification of a few moments. The moments are coming together in pantomime with a system of snapping to represent the shift in mood or place. We have been using this technique as well as some of the method acting involving attachment of real emotion to dialog we have wrote for each moment. We continue to revise these as well as the acting in the moments. The troop roles were relatively easy to assign as everyone has fallen into some sort of roll already. I am in the roll of director as well as actor.
This week has been a roller coaster. We attempted to read each others minds, and with another Stanislavsky technique practiced acting “as if”. This became a huge influence in our process, allowing us to take our previous concept of personal experience to our actual bodies on stage. We have passed through the terrifying moment of our first group moment devising activity with high moral and new ideas. Our process has consisted of setting square cubes as a mach set then acting out some action that fits into our overarching story(moving out) then with the snap of someone offstage freezing and then, with minimal movement, reacting to pre-writtin dialog from another actor offstage. We attempted this system with two of our actors and two different dialog. The results were spontaneous and awesome. We found a triggering moment for an actor that up to this point had no idea what to choose or use. The pressure of being forced into a structure and a situation seems to have lead us to find more true reactions. The lack of precognition forced us to react “as if”, Stanislavsky methods, made our previous ideas of real personal experience and emotion present to our acting. The hope that we can show our audience our experiences with nostalgia truthfully, and meaningfully is coming into realization.