Dedicated journalist right here, folks
After my long back-and-forward emailing sessions the stage manager of "The Foreigner," tonight was finally my first night observing a rehearsal. The stage manager mentioned that there was a chance that the theatre could be locked. Just my luck, the door was locked. I copied what I saw a cast member do when I was a few yards away from the building and asked a Marquette employee to let me in the building. The gentleman was kind enough to let me into the building. But of course, I was lost when I entered the building. So, another kind gentleman led me to the main stage, which is where rehearsals are held.
He led me to a door. And do you want to know what was behind that door? Stairs. Steep, twisty and untrustworthy stairs which undoubtedly would lead to my death . I just pictured myself tumbling down those stairs and landing face-first on the stage. What a way to make an entrance for my first day of work. But, I held on to both railings, walked down slowly and survived.
I was informed through my email correspondences a few weeks ago that the original director of "The Foreigner" had to step down. Todd Denning of First Stage took over. I had met the previous director about a year ago, but never met Denning. Turns out, he is everything I would expect a director to be. The man was full of energy. I am not sure if I saw him stationary for more than a few minutes at a time. He would pace throughout the auditorium, animately mouth the actors' lines along with them and sometimes jump on stage unexpectedly.
By listening to Denning, I learned a plethora of new theatre terns and ideas tonight. First of all, I think I can now confidently say that downstage is the part of the stage closest to the audience and upstage is the furthest section from the audience (but, uh, don't quote me on that). Denning was also nice enough to sit down and talk with me during a break. He told me that tonight's rehearsal was referred to as "moment-to-moment," which means he would stop the actors and actresses every few lines to give them notes. There is a designer run through tomorrow, which means not as much stop and go, and and opportunity for the cast and crew to get a general idea of the run time for the show. I also learned what I imagine is an original Todd Denning term: "the double Scooby ear." Denning used this term to describe a surprised reaction he wanted from a cast member. I must find a way to use this in day-to-day conversation.
From sitting in on rehearsal, I also learned some typical director's notes. Denning talked a lot about energy and connections with the cast. The correct type of energy to have with a scene, when to play off each others' energies, connecting with each other, etc... He also talked with certain cast members about finishing moments in scenes and enhancing those moments. I am still learning theatre lingo, so I hope I'm using all of these terms in the correct context.
These notes mainly came with the first scene the cast worked on tonight. I happened to know the two cast members outside of the play. It was really cool to see the guys transform into their characters. One of them played a character completely opposite of his personality, while I noticed similarities between the other actor's personality and his character. It will be fun as I get to know the cast more to see how personalities and characters either mesh or contradict themselves.
I was given the chance to see more beyond their scenes together, though. I have been researching this play over the past few weeks, so it was great to see it actually come to life. It was especially fun to see a great scene between the characters of Charlie and Ellard that I saw on YouTube earlier. Oh, and did I mention every character in this play has either a British or Southern accent? I really hope I develop one if I sit in on enough rehearsals. Or that I learn to fake one well enough.
I didn't have too much interaction with the cast tonight. I wanted to use this night to observe a rehearsal and the cast and crew's interactions with each other. At first, I didn't see too many interactions between the cast, and that is something I want to capture on film. But then I realized the cast could hang out off stage. I learned from the stage manager that the cast has many rooms for them to hang out in between scenes. Needless to say, I will be doing some exploring in this theatre in upcoming rehearsals. However, I did get to see the cast interact with each other during one of the breaks. They are two and a half weeks into rehearsing, so they are pretty well acquainted with each other at this point. Tonight, I saw a group of cast members who unintentionally matched each other take a picture together and plenty of "Mean Girls" quotes from other cast members. I pretended to be looking at my notes, but I was really eavesdropping on conversations. Whoops.
Tomorrow night, I will begin the filming process for my story. I think I will mainly focus on filming scenes tomorrow, but I may try to work in filming cast interactions. I anticipate starting interviews with the cast mid to end of next week. Speaking of next week, I will be back with the cast of "The Foreigner" multiple times next week on top of filming Fugee workshops and a Naturals practice. Wish me luck in retaining my sanity. Until tomorrow, friends.
** This is the same blog I managed on blogspot, just at a different location