I am ridiculously way behind in my Dreydl Diaries this year. I've been writing them in my head for you: the rehearsals, the script-revisions, the joy of working with a new cast (like the joy of working with the old cast, only different) . . . . But living life has a way of getting in the way of writing about it. The best I've been able to do is Tweet
during rehearsals & post a bunch of blurry photos there, thanks to the magic of iPhone.
Delia's gone to bed, as she has to get up at 3 a.m. to wake up in time to do Hour of the Wolf
at WBAI downtown at 5:00 for Interfictions
. So here I sit, trying to get sleepy, or at least to write something.
This was tech week. It kicked off with a post-Thanksgiving rehearsal on Sunday night - yep, we work'em hard. The director knew she needed to ease everyone back in - and besides, we couldn't get onstage because they were still hammering away at the set. (Yeah, I've got photos. Somewhere.) So first they did a speed-through, where everyone just delivers their lines as fast as they can, to show they know them and their cues cold. Then
came the improv: We ran the show, complete with blocking (but not toe-dancing), in the lobby, and every few minutes the director, Linda Ames Key, would shout out a different style for them to act it in. It started with Greek Tragedy, which went very well with the Family Party where no one is really getting along. I can't even remember all of them, but I don't think I've laughed so hard in ages. One highlight was "Lord of the Rings!" - they fumbled for a bit, and then Sarah turned into Smeagol, hunkered over her Precious with lines like, "But how do we find the Dreydl Princess?" and it was actually a scene in which the Fool is asking her riddles - priceless! This actor is so great to watch: her focus is so strong, and she's so flexible - she also delivered a Trailer Trash finale with a shirt stuffed down her belly, and a side-splitting E.R. & Film Noir with others. The exercise stretched our young actors in all sorts of ways - when the guy playing a comic old man who can't plant his Carob Tree did it as "Western!", he suddenly developed a sombre gravitas that actually will serve him in the part. A very delicate little ballerina suddenly turned out a huge, brawling "Housewives of New Jersey" in a voice we'd never heard before, which was actually perfect for her role! That was the Magic: it wasn't just hilarious and fun, but it loosened everyone up, slipping under their guard to give useful tools for the show.
Can't say how grateful I am to be allowed to witness all this. I never studied drama formally, always wanted to, and now I feel I'm getting a crash course in practical theatre by keeping my mouth shut (mostly). I am occasionally asked for an opinion, and sometimes for a rewrite, but mostly I just try to stay out of the way. Though I'm also learning how to voice opinions in ways that are useful (always a weakness of mine!).
Today was final dress rehearsal, and it was the traditional trainwreck. I'm not worried; once the Queen of Sheba's Attendants have gone offstage in the middle of a scene premarturely and neglected to come back for their lines (because they can't find the costume change they're supposed to bring on), leaving Sara & the Queen to improvise desperately, it can never happen again . . . right? Bits of the Fool's costume fell off every 5 minutes, and the Peacock's feathers were bent. But a lot went right, too - and a good thing, as we'd invited about 90 local schoolkids (1st & 2nd graders, mostly) to attend for free. They were riveted. But I'd forgotten how nutso I get when I'm observing a show from the back with an actual audience. I lose my focus on the players, and am utterly attuned to the audience reaction: Did that joke get a laugh? Are they "seat-wriggling"? Why aren't they applauding here?
Maybe because I'm a performer myself, I just go to That Place automatically, but of course, being at the back of the auditorium rather than the front, there's not a damn thing I can do about it except wonder if I need to revise more, or beg the director not to let that actor ever ever do that bit again. Last year I was on at the beginning & end of the show as Tante Miriam, and stood at the back the rest of the time for nearly every performance, alternately suffering torments and crowing with glee. It's early days yet. This year's is a very very complicated show, and I know we'll all burn into it - even me. I must say that the sets & costumes are gorgeous beyond belief. No complaints there. And our ensemble is superb. Now, if only I could have an audience full of people who do exactly what I tell them!
Hmm. Still not sleepy. Better go to bed anyway. I could just pretend to sleep....