Getting It Up…Goes Limp

November 6th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

So much for silly giddiness.

At the 3 hour mark of the final rehearsal last night we came to a long speech. Very long. Brutally long. It is the moment of possession for my main character: possession of a great spiritual energy bursting from the woods; and a moment in which the main character finally possesses himself for the first time: instead of being punched around like a beach ball. Did I mention that the speech in this moment is long? And after three painful hours of watching even mild speeches get a blistering cold reading that consisted of shredded and swallowed and then choked out lines–well, I nearly fainted in the face of my own long tirade.

Aside: Let me just take a moment to say that the director, Clyde Simon, and all of the actors: Geoffrey and Stuart Hoffman and Tom and Evan Kondilas are doing absolutely fabulously and I would not in any way disparage them.


There were two distinct moments when I wanted to cut lines. No, not just cut them; I wanted to just rip them out and throw them on the floor and then stomp on them. I didn’t want anyone to hear them: least of all me. There was a genuine moment of terror in which I contemplated calling the whole thing off; and then there was a briefly-swift moment where I wanted to vomit. Other than this, the rehearsal went quite well.

It was grueling. During the first rehearsal, which lasted four hours and covered a dry reading and the blocking of the first part of the play, I laughed. It was very pleasant; alright, hilarious at points. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Last night, however, it was the last part of the play and it took 4.5 hours to get through it. I felt like we all were trudging. It was vapid, tedious, and terrible. God, I only hope it was the time of day; or the weather; something…anything…other than what I fear it was most of all.

The Dreams of the Nighttime will have Vanished by Dawn

Today, I’m a little bit more introspective and upbeat. I feel that it will most certainly move fast. I remind myself that the length of time on both occasions was the blocking, the enactment, the re-enactment, the reading and re-reading and so on. The go and stop and the ‘do-it-again.’ This, of course, won’t happen during the reading. And then I recalled, ‘hey, this is the point of a reading.’ I gave pause. I took a beat. This isn’t a production. This isn’t even the final version of the play. It is rough. It is supposed to be rough. Lighten up, tight ass. Slowly, now. Slowly. Unclench them. Ease up.

I was preparing for the night of, today. I had to send a bio to the marketing person. I had to pick out a “moderator” who would lead the post show talk: a no-brainer for me–Mike Geither. I thought about where I could pick up a Viking helmet with the fake braids under it and maybe even a breast plate with two big breasts–and how all those Slim Jims would go over. (You think I’m kidding, don’t you?) Then I shopped around the web looking to swipe post-staged-reading questions from others who have gone through this. I found a couple solid sites that talked about it. But the best, perhaps, was DAM*Writer, who on January 15th of this year wrote:

As anyone who’s even glanced at this blog now and again knows, I have a real love/hate relationship with staged readings. The rehearsal process and the readings themselves can reveal all sorts of wonderful/horrible things that don’t always make themselves known in the space between my ears when I’m sitting alone in my office, tapping away or even reading out loud. Since plays are meant to be experienced by audiences, it can be very helpful to get a sneak peek at the effects of one’s work on people experiencing it for the first time.

On the other hand, a staged reading is a misleading, watered-down presentation of any but the most traditional of dialogue-heavy, standard-narrative, linear-storyline plays. The further you go out on the experimental branch, the less likely it becomes that a staged reading is going to support the work, its intentions, its style and the author’s voice.

Hear, hear… and my play is out a bit on the experimental branch. It’s not full out whacked, or extreme expressionism, but it sure has elements that are like that and is heavy on the visual elements of theatre–not good for a reading. Clyde though is taking a damn fine crack at it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he’s done not only a fine job, but I’ve worried that the person reading the stage directions (Stuart Hoffman) will be mistaken for a character.


Oh well. I console myself by knowing that it will all be said and done by Wednesday at 10:00pm. I will have my answers, though not for the sake of a live audience. As David mentions on his site, it is unlikely that you can rely on what the audience has to say…although, they might point out one thing or other that surprises you. But, as Mike Geither said to me earlier on the phone:

You’re the one closest to the work and you know it best. You can’t rely on the audience to tell you what to do. The feedback isn’t even for you, really, it’s to let the audience think that they have some input in the process; but mostly, it’s for the theatre…

Presumably to demonstrate that they’re the kind of theatre that does these sorts of things. Okay. Right on. It is nonetheless helpful to hear the thing read aloud. To see it staged, however modestly. To get a sense of its rhythm (or lack there of). To know what works and what doesn’t. To hear the audience laugh, or moan, or yawn, or swear, or ask, aloud, WTF is this and who gave me this ticket anyhow?

We’ll see. I have a tendency to overreact and jump to conclusions, overly harsh conclusions. If you would, cross your fingers with me, then say the following: “middle biddle fumble and ding” three times really fast.

Or not.

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