Every day I seem to realise a little more how much of our lives has moved to the realm of distance connections – even when the distance isn’t much at all. I told you about how our drama school moved all classes and meetings to Zoom, and then there is my mother doing her yoga practice via GoogleMeet, and the Company’s similarly organized cycle of Sepulveda readings…
And then there are rehearsals. Oh, nothing terribly new, by now. Back in the Spring, that’s how we got ready for our Summer Season, so we should be quite practiced by now, shouldn’t we? Except, the Summer Season was made up of readings, the actors standing all but chained to their reading stands, five feet away from each other, with no blocking to speak of.
When the theatres were closed again, and movements severely restricted a couple of weeks ago, we were in the middle of rehearsing my new play. My own original work about Amelia Earhart’s fateful last flight. We were to have opened on the 24th of November, and we were at that incandescent stage where things are beginning to shape up, and Nina was giving me more and more responsibilities with the whole thing – which was terrifying and thrilling in equal parts… Well, I managed to direct one rehearsal session. One. And I loved it to bits, and drove home on clouds – and next we knew, we were all forbidden to leave home, more or less. Oh, we did tentatively and optimistically reschedule the opening date to the 18th of December – but frankly, the way things are going…
Still we all agreed that we can’t just stop rehearsing. The day theatres are allowed to open again, we must be reasonably ready. Ready enough that we can open open the play with no more than a week or two of work on the stage. Right? So we meet on Zoom, and try to work on memory (you wouldn’t believe how quickly memory can slip!), and rhythm, and voices, and intentions, and try not to forget our blocking, and try, and try, and try… The trouble is, we had to stop at the worst possible moment, when it was both too early and too late to move the whole thing to the rarefied regions of video-conference.
Had we been still reading – well, we’d read on, and do memory work. Had blocking been securely established, we’d be polishing. Alas, we were just transitioning from walking about with the book to that stage where blocking firms up, and gels together with the finer points of interpretations… I called it incandescent, before – and I meant it: you can definitely see the shape burning bright before you, but things are still a bit fluid, a bit unsettled. And perhaps if I just were a more experienced director it wouldn’t be so bad – but I can’t help finding endless frustration in the fact that we can’t settle that burning shape by working on a stage.
So… So we forge on, and I wouldn’t dream of calling off these disembodied rehearsals, because perhaps it will become easier in time, and if we keep at it doggedly enough, we’ll get to the point where pieces can just fall in place the moment we step on the stage again.
Right. Let’s hope. Let’s have faith. This is theatre we’re speaking of – and greater miracles have been known to happen.
Meanwhile, we keep at it, and work with the pieces, and try hard to keep the whole in mind.