Coming back to my temporary apartment in Greenwich Village last night after the play rehearsal, I passed a sports bar that was open to the street...inside everyone was watching the Celtics/Lakers game; I was able to stop and see that the good guys were ahead. I was too tired to stay up for the end of the game but in the morning there was a text message on my cell from my son: YES! it said; so I knew the Celtics had won.
Today I had to go up to the NPR studios on 42nd Street to tape an interview for All Things Considered about "The Willoughbys"...odd to shift gears that way, since I have been thinking "Gossamer" all week. I took the bus back to Greenwich Village and clicked this photo at 31st Street...
How weird is THAT?!
The rehearsals for the play continue to go well, and you might enjoy reading the blog at the Oregon Childrens Theater website, where Stan Foote, the director, who is here, is blogging about the experience, as is his intern, Olivia, who is also here.
Night before last, at rehearsal, Stan had the actors do scenes out of sequence in order to follow the trajectory of individual characters, which enabled me to see their development...their journeys, as it were...or lack thereof!...and then to re-write in order to delineate their growth. The boy's mother, portrayed in three separate monologues, in each of which she is talking on the telephone, was at first too quickly re-habbed, too soon happy and successful. Even though as reader or audience, we want that for her...still it wouldn't happen that perfectly and neatly. Rewritten (and incidentally beautifully performed by actor Lisa Vasfeilo) she now is someone who is realistically moving forward slowly, sometimes stumbling, very vulnerable.
A dog, Toby, is an important character in both book and play. During this workshop, the actor, Alex Siriani, who plays Most Ancient, doubles as Toby and is a lively and appealing mutt...he's going to need kneepads to do the role! I had wondered, originally, how theaters would present the dog. Stan says that he will use an actor, as he is doing here. Jeff, the director in Milwaukee, is thinking: puppet. No, not a Punch-and-Judy type, but a sophisticated puppet attached to a human...it could work well. Such is the magic of theater.
Last night's rehearsal entered into that magical realm, where the script, the writing, is not at all as important as the staging. Stan worked with the actors on the nightmare scenes. Much of that, in the real production, will be enhanced by lighting and by sound, and that isn't available to us here for the final staged reading. But he and the actors are together choreographing the nightmares and creating their own sound effects; singing that begins in a traditional way and then becomes distorted and frightening, for example; body movement that slows and jerks and halts.
Here is Stan in his baseball cap, working with the actors who are on the stage. In the red blouse is Teresa Fisher, who plays The Woman, and who tells me she has a background as a social worker and play therapist...so she really knows what this little boy (John, in the play; there he is, over Stan's left shoulder, being played by Brian Mahoney) is going through.
I'm not sure what Stan will work on tonight...maybe more on the nightmares. In any case, whatever it is, it will be fascinating for me to watch him at work. Stan has a great way with actors, encouraging them, teaching them...liking them, understanding what they need from him, and letting them loose when he knows what they have on their own.
Yay Celtics. Yay Stan. Yay New York.