Sunday, April 05, 2009

One Day Play Festival

Our little project from last year, Theatre Unleashed, had its first birthday as a corporation this week. To celebrate, we held a one day play festival. At 7 pm Friday night, four writers got topics for short plays along with boy-girl ratios. Their scripts were ready at 10 am yesterday. Then four directors got those scripts and drew for cast members from envelopes. At 10:30 am we began rehearsing and we put the shows up at 11 pm last night. We took lunch and dinner breaks so our brains didn't totally turn to mush.

I was one of the actors. It was interesting to go through the entire cycle of rehearsing and putting up a play in a little more than twelve hours, four and a half of which were used for meal breaks. My name was drawn by Susie Myrvold, a friend of Theatre Unleashed who has directed for us before. I was paired up with Lauren, a friend who has done a few shows with me so we didn't have to g0 through that awkward 'getting to know you' phase of rehearsal with each other. The script, by Carolyn Morse, was about a lady with Altzheimer's having a birthday. We read through the play a couple times, Susie decided how to cast us, and then we set to learning lines.

I have a certain way of learning lines that involves going over the material many times and seeing what I retain. I learned something new from Susie. She had us go line by line and learn them that way. Lauren would learn her line, I'd learn mine and we'd meet in the middle. We'd then go back and cover the full page we'd learned, then pick up the page before and the current page. With the big speeches, she'd have us start with the last line first, then pick up the preceding sentence and so on. It was very effective. We had our seven pages memorized in an hour.

We came back after lunch and started solidifying our blocking and working with props. We pulled the show that was prop heavy out of the four plays. We worked on our character relationships and ran the show over and over, tidying up more each time. Susie is a very gentle and validating director, so that made the day go very smooth. We ran the show twice in the theatre before breaking for dinner.

The show went up at 11 pm last night after our mainstage show. All four shows were great. It was amazing how fast everything came together. We got home close to 2 am and passed out. I was so productive all day that I forgot about everything else.

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