I am delighted to report that the play is really starting to blossom. We’re off book now so there’s no more heads down in scripts and we can play off of each other in a much more organic way. There’s facial expressions and emotional inflection where there wasn’t before. We’re moving past the point of delivering lines and actually interacting with each other and it’s adding so many layers to the scenes that it’s making me giddy. I walk off stage now seething over the nerve of the character I converse with and it takes me a second to step back out of my enraged character. I can’t tell you how fun that is.
We’re also starting to get a feel for the concrete details of the set. The play is set in 1850 so all of us ladies walk around in these giant hoop skirts and it becomes a gymnastic enterprise to negotiate the tight spaces backstage or fit two of us on the couch at the same time. And sitting down so that the hoops don’t pop up in your face takes some practice. It’s definitely not the norm for my life and I’m enjoying it immensely.
Plus we’re starting to get props in place so timing becomes more important and blocking makes more sense in a concrete way. When I came in tonight there were framed pictures, ceramic lanterns and other decorations scattered about and a silver haired woman was sorting through everything with the director to pick out what we’ll use. I’m not lifting up air when I comment on that picture, the girl who plays the maid is bringing in lamps and trays, there’s a real cord to pull for the bell.
I wrote my bio for the program and a delightfully flighty woman took our photos for the press release as we ran our scenes this evening. There are little postcards with the play dates and cast list to hand out to friends and family. Our show premier is on the calendar for only a few short weeks away and I see it every time I write a reminder down on my phone. I’m starting to train my eyes to wander over the empty seats as if there were people looking back at me when I perform. Soon enough the director will be sitting in the back row telling us “louder!” because he can’t hear us. We’re getting the action of the scene down and starting to tweak the performance for an audience.
The magic of theater that people talk about as if it were an addictive nectar is starting to come out for real and I can’t help but be a little awe struck. Having been out of the loop for so long I’d forgotten how exhilarating the whole thing can be. But I’m remembering why I loved all this so much.
My task now is to try to soak up every wonderful minute of this and not lose it in the momentum as we speed toward opening night. To remember that the flubbed lines and missed cues are just as delicious as the perfect delivery in front of a live audience. To squeeze every ounce of joy I can get out of it. Easier said than done, of course. But I think I’m doing ok at the moment.