Happy Saturday night, everyone!
This week, I have a VERY special post for all of you: an inside look into our rehearsal process. Last week, I buzzed around the building in order to give you a peek into what it looks like to rehearse two shows (with overlapping casts!) simultaneously. So without any further ado, I present Susannah’s Notes from Rehearsal on Thursday, July 5th, 2018.
7:00pm: We’ve arrived at rehearsal! We have lots on the schedule for today – staging parts of Macbeth and Dinner in different rooms of the building, with actors going back and forth between plays.
7:05pm: The Macbeth team begins by reviewing Act II, Scene III with the Porter (James Kerr) and Macduff (Tim German). We did preliminary staging of this scene last week, but Jordan wants to solidify some of the physical comedy of the scene. He asks James to come up with a different gag for each line in the famous “equivocator” speech (“Therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery”). Much ridiculousness ensues – we won’t actually use all of these bits, but they help get the creative juices flowing.
7:08pm: Upstairs, the Dinner cast, with British accents galore, are beginning to work and review the first two scenes of the play. Stevie lets the actors work, but occasionally stops Paige (Alani Kravitz) and Lars (Matthew Castleman) to give a quick note or discuss a beat. Alani, Matt, and Stevie all agree that it’s necessary to find the sweet moments between Lars and Paige, since their relationship is otherwise so tumultuous and acidic. I learn that Little Chef’s is a terrible fast food chain restaurant in England.
7:20pm: The entrance of Wynne (Charlene V. Smith), the vegetarian artist, brings a livelier energy and more movement and hubbub to the scene. Stevie works with Charlene, Matt, Alani, and Brendan McMahon (the Waiter) to more specifically choreograph the moving parts of the scene, so the seeming-chaos on stage is actually very orderly and runs the same way every night.
7:25pm: I’m now back downstairs with the Macbeth crew. James, Tim, and Jordan are still working on Act II, Scene III. The blocking has changed quite a bit in the twenty or so minutes I’ve been gone, and the scene is a lot more specific and clean.
7:34pm: The last nine minutes have been dedicated solely to the Porter’s – ahem – bodily jokes.
7:47pm: I step outside to run lines with a few actors who are on their break. When beginning to get a scene on its feet, it can be difficult to really dig into the material when actors still have their scripts in their hands, so helping them get off book as quickly as possible is one of the most helpful things I can do during a rehearsal. While I’m outside, Stevie continues to work with members of the Dinner cast and Jordan stages Act IV, Scene III with Malcolm (Brendan McMahon), Macduff, and Ross (Linda Bard).
8:26pm: Matthew Castleman, who plays Lars in Dinner, also serves as our fight choreographer for Macbeth. He finishes his rehearsal upstairs and comes down to begin to do some work on the big fight scenes. Joining us are Josh Simon, who plays Hal in Dinner and Banquo in Macbeth, and Jared H. Graham, who plays Mike in Dinner and the titular character in Macbeth. We begin by staging Banquo’s ambush and death. Jordan shows Matt the part of the scene that has already been staged – the moments leading up to the fight.
8:35pm: Matt takes over. He and Jordan first talk through the arc of the fight – who has to die in the scene, what makes sense for Banquo’s approach to the battle, and what role each of the murderers play. He also examines the props – swords and a lantern – to ascertain how to use them most effectively. Matt then slowly begins walking through the opening sequences of the fight.
8:44pm: I check back in upstairs with Dinner. Most of the cast has been released, and Stevie is doing one-on-one work with Alani. The two of them are talking through Alani’s relationship to her character, and what pitfalls she should avoid. Stevie says that the cast as a whole should avoid playing for laughs. Instead, they should treat the material seriously and let the humor speak for itself. They then talk through the end of the play – Alani has some questions about how she should approach it. I can’t say more, though, or else I’ll spoil it!
8:55pm: Back downstairs, the fight has progressed significantly. Despite the many characters in the scene – Banquo, the murderers (Steve Lebens and Charlie Cook), the Porter, and Fleance (Katie Abramowitz) – things have gone very quickly and smoothly, and Matt is just touching up the final positions that the characters will end up in when they die.
9:06pm: We’ve moved onto staging Macbeth and Macduff’s big Act V fight. The actors are working through the first few passes with Matt slowly, getting used to their weapons.
9:17pm: After Matt shows Jordan his initial ideas for choreography, the two of them discuss what does and doesn’t work. All of Matt’s fighting is badass, but Jordan wants to make some adjustments so that the elements of the fight – level of aggression, who is attacking whom, etc. – match up correctly to the character work and the context of the fight within the arc of the play. Jordan notes that Macbeth, who begins the scene by protesting that he will not fight, wouldn’t come out immediately looking like the aggressor. Matt agrees, and the two make some adjustments in the opening sequence.
9:33pm: Stevie and Alani have finished up their work, and Dinner is dismissed for the evening.
9:58pm: As rehearsal is winding down, the Macbeth team choreographs the end of the fight – a sequence we all agree is titled, “Going Out like a Scotsman.”
10:03pm: The fight is now choreographed! Adjustments will continue to be made, but we’re all finished for the night.
PHEW. It was a jam-packed three hours, but a lot of great work got done on both plays. Thanks for joining us for this inside look!