Yes, much to the relief/pleasure/pride of director Laura Roald and the cast, the play is now fully blocked! For anyone not familiar with that theatrical term, “blocking” refers to choreographed movement of the actors at any given time during the dialogue or action. It’s a sometimes gruelling but absolutely necessary part of the rehearsal process, otherwise the audience would see a bunch of characters milling cluelessly around the stage, bumping into the furniture and each other. The idea is avoid “traffic jams” and make every movement seem completely natural, but that takes work!
The next step is to get off book. Right now we are working with scripts in hand (essential: to write down those blocking notes!), but very shortly we actors will have to have memorized not only our lines but also the blocking, so that we can concentrate on fully conveying the characters’ emotions. We’re all itching for this moment – and it’s kinda difficult to do fight scenes or any kind of quick action involving hand props when one hand is holding a script.
I don’t want to give the impression that blocking rehearsals are plodding, humourless affairs. Far from it! To illustrate, here are just a few quotes from these rehearsals.
DIRECTOR, pondering a blocking issue: “I need to get rid of the parents…”.
ACTOR (Julie Burris, playing Mother): “I know someone who can help you with that.”
PRODUCER, jokingly anticipating audience reaction when actor Laine Newman (sitting at breakfast table playing the father of main character) finally lowers the newspaper from behind which she’s been delivering her lines: “Oh my God – it’s a girl!”
ACTOR, inquiring about her next blocking move: “What now?”
DIRECTOR, matter-of-factly: “Now you have sex.”
Oh, and by the way, today (August 24) would have been the 121st birthday of author Jean Rhys, the main character of “After Mrs. Rochester“. Jean died in 1979, a few months before her 89th birthday.
Alumnae Theatre’s production opens September 23, and runs to Friday October 7. Reservations will be taken starting September 1. Leave a phone message at 416-364-4170 Box 1, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.