Sunday, October 18, 2009

First official rehearsal for as-yet-unnamed show.

Ultimately, Erik and I will work with a few different coaches on our show, but in these first rehearsals, we're just kinda figuring out what we're interested in doing. So after last week, when we just talked about direction, we were ready to start playing.

We don't have a show date, a venue, a format or anything like that, so for now, we're just rehearsing at my place. I've done that before—both with bigger groups and the show with Tommy—and it's great in some ways and weird in others. Rather than treating it like a stage, we just decided to use it for the space, editing into other rooms, or even playing scenes in two separate spaces.

(I think my walls are pretty stout. If I'm overestimating their soundproofedness, neighbors on both sides are likely to think I'm involved in a bizarre relationship or three.)

Our first scene, using a Ping Pong exercise from The Physical Comedy Handbook that Jill recommended in a forum somewhere, best reflected how it feels to do the first exercise in a situation like this: a simple encounter between two people who feel kinda silly.

After that, though, it was easy to just focus on the scene.

We've decided to start off just playing long, patient scenes about real people, which is a challenge for a bunch of different reasons:
  • Trusting the scene to unfold—focusing on moment-to-moment reactions instead of forcing something to happen. Erik takes more risks that I do here; I tend to get locked in stasis instead of making turns. I wasn't using my Viewpoints work, which can make a big difference. We're getting together again Wednesday night, so I can give myself that as an assignment (which will be especially helpful since I'll need it Saturday night).
  • The whole acting thing. I struggle to differentiate between characters without feeling cartoon-y. How much change is enough to become a different character? It felt like everything I played tonight was some version of me—no changes in diction or POV, and physical changes based more on body language than structure. I may be trying to reign things in too hard.
  • Damn comfort zones. Nothing brings out your crutches like playing long scenes with just one other person. I'm pretty happy with the fact that I had real emotional reactions in scenes. But. They were pretty similar emotional reactions from character to character, and those reactions were awfully close to...oh, hell. They were mine.
On the plus side, we've gotten our first rehearsal out of the way, and it was fun and comfortable and left us both wanting to play more. So I've got my assignments for Wednesday: Viewpoints work and emotional range.

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