I'm Free to Exit...Where?!
I am currently in rehearsals for Cole, A Musical Memoir, an ensemble show with five actors that opens in three weeks in Concord, New Hampshire. Rehearsals have been going extremely well, and the actors and production staff are incredibly brilliant. I've already learned so much from the cast and try to be a sponge at the rehearsals, absorbing everything I can ranging from their vocal technique to their comic timing.
At first, the rehearsals were leaving me quite intimidated by the amount of talent of the other four actors and my self-perceived “lack” of experience or vocal range in comparison to them. But I didn’t want that feeling to last so I’ve been practicing and practicing and fighting to get back the diva confidence I usually have.
Yesterday, we were to stage Act 1, and I came ready to write down blocking attentively, making small character choices here and there to be further explored, and to learn some choreography. However, I was quite stunned when our director gave us liberty to pretty much do whatever we wanted…stand where we want, make up our own dance moves, exit off any side that felt right…this was not the rehearsal I had expected!
I’ve never worked with a director so willing to accept ideas and so ready to ask our opinions on the blocking. He would give a general idea of his vision, and then ask us to ‘go to it,’ figuring out for ourselves what we wanted to do for “Another Openin’ Another Show.” I was quiet at first, because I really didn’t think that he would want us to start running the rehearsal with everything we wanted. Almost every director I’ve had has been extremely specific in where we should stand, cross, or exit, and often I nor my fellow actors would dare utter a word of suggestion for a choreographed dance move. I couldn’t believe what was happening!
I’m getting ready to go back to rehearsal today for Act 2, and I’m sure I’ll be experiencing much of what happened yesterday. It’s going to take me a while to get used to this…One of my strongest suits in acting is that I’m often complimented on ‘taking direction extremely well,’ and directors often praise me on my ability to listen and give them exactly what they’re asking for. Well, now that he’s not asking for much, I feel lost! I asked yesterday if I should exit stage right or left, and he told me, “Yes.” I was stunned!
But I am glad to get to work with someone who has such a different style of directing. He’s extremely talented and successful and toured with this show all over the country, so clearly he knows what he’s doing and is very adamant about not only making the show an ensemble piece, but the whole process as well. I think that this is definitely good for me so I can get more used to different styles, and it’s a great chance for me to put my own choreography skills into use where they will be welcome with open arms!