We’re into our third week of rehearsal and the show is really starting to come together. At this point in the process, all the scenes have been staged and rehearsed individually, and now it’s time to start running the entire show. Today we had a run-through with several members of McCarter’s staff attending. The room is freezing today, and most of us observers are bundled up in sweaters or coats. Many of the actors are at this point able to rehearse in their performance shoes, thanks to the costume department.
The run goes very smoothly. Actors are allowed to “call for line” when they can’t remember what they say next, and many of them do. Most of the time this means the actor, while staying in character and in the moment, calls out “line”, a stage manager speaks the next few words, and the actor is off again. Despite the interruption of this prompting, the pace of the action continues to be brisk. And each time we run the show, there are fewer and fewer calls for line. Running the entire show is helpful to all of the actors as it allows them to discover the rhythm and arc of the piece from start to finish. It’s extremely useful for the director as well, who get’s to see how each scene is playing in context with the other scenes. One day we had the lighting designer sitting in, and he was able to get some initial ideas for his lighting plan given the movement of action on stage.
Another element that has been added to the production is choreography for the fights. Fight choreographer Rick Sordelet was called in to stage the fights, which means giving them the appearance of violence but actually carefully rehearsing them so that they are quite safe for the actors. Fights in this play erupt occasionally between some of the hospital patients, and other fights involve the guards subduing the patients, often straightjacketing them. The insane asylum is a rough place, and the fights are crucial in establishing the right environment.
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