Listening and Discovery in the Rehearsal Room

At this afternoon’s rehearsal I discovered we’re at one of my favorite points in the process, a point where we know some things but not everything. A point where we truly start discovering.

Today was a stumble-through: the first full run of the show after blocking and some basic scene work. Everyone is still carrying their script, no one is certain of much of what they’re doing. And, perhaps the real key, we’re getting to the point where we know some of the lines.

And that’s where the fun comes in.

I no longer have my face buried in the script, following along with everyone’s lines. Instead I’m watching the other actors, whether they’re talking to me or not, so I’m starting to be actively involved in the scene. This is a play we almost never leave the stage, and can go several pages before we have any lines or specific action to attend to, so there are stretches of just listening. I could peek ahead, and know what I was doing next, making a mental note of my cues, and I could be ready for them. But during those stretches I was able to explore, investigate the listening aspect, and try to discover how I might need to respond to what’s happening or what it is that causes me to finally say or do something. I love this stuff.

This is the part of the process where reaction and purpose are truly defined, and the more specific the better. It can never be rushed. Every reaction and beat needs to be justified and filled, and it needs to lead to the next beat.

Eventually when the right choices are made, we’ll move on to the refining and polishing, but this—this part right here—is where the real core work is done. The start and stop work throughs over the next several days are going to be a blast.

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