The Silly Giddiness of Getting it Up

October 31st, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Rehearsals for my staged reading are underway. There will be two, and one for tech and blocking. That is, this won’t be just a music stand event, a fact for which I am greatly relieved. In fact, I am quite pleased that Clyde Simon has agreed to direct the piece, for he is showing me many things–as I knew he would–the lack of music stands being the more prominent example. I’ve been to readings like this. It doesn’t really matter how effective (or affective) the acting, there is something very sanitary about it. As though the fact of these actors standing there smugly turning pages is as important as everything else. Let me make that clear–the fact of them standing there and turning pages–not their acting, which of course is important. Regardless, Clyde refuses to have a reading like this. He believes in motion and action as meaning–which of course is absolutely correct.

Further, he believes in acted readings of the stage directions. This I found quite exciting: that there would be no flat, passionless reading of those actions that simply cannot be done without a full performance–and yet merit energy and action in their expression at least in words, if not bodily movement. That is, Clyde feels that a person reading the stage direction “a jet of blood sprays from his wrist” (which was one version of my play–a crucifixion–but is not there now) should not read this line in a flat, passionless manner–the monotone droll of uninflected words. Rather, there should be some great energy in it, motion, and dynamism–that the actor should express as the jet would burst. However, this has led to a small problem I did not predict, which I may need to speak with him about: namely, as the reader of the stage directions becomes more active he becomes more like a character. Of course, the stage directions are not a character. But the audience will not know this–unless they carefully observe the program. So, my stage direction reader and sometime actor could be misconstrued–and people may wonder what precisely his role in the thing is.

Other than that, I’ve been fascinated by the process. It’s been two years since I’ve seen a play of mine go up–even though this one isn’t going as far up as others–but the process is what I’ve forgotten about. And this time it’s with a director whose skill and experience I feel totally comfortable with. There are approaches he takes that have helped me to see my play in a totally different way, too. Maybe this is what good directors do, so I sound naive at this point. For instance, we ran one of the scenes and then Clyde said, do it again, but this time you’re sad. Do it again, but this time you’re angry. And he keeps hitting these marks until he’s satisfied with the way it works, and his sense is good, so the feeling he gets from a scene is usually right–and it helps me to see emotions in my characters that I haven’t seen–or, at least, didn’t explore in that particular context.

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