DOMINIC RYAN: What a difference a stage makes

What a difference a stage makes.

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Kayla Ferguson and Reggie D. White in I AND YOU. Photo by Meghan Moore.

It was only yesterday, it seems, that I saw the start of the production of I and You with a reading around a table.  In that moment I was taken with the presence of the actors with only their voices and bodies to convey the feeling of the story.  It may sound obvious to those steeped in the theater but it was a surprise to me.

Some few days later I was able to observe the team reworking an element in the play.  There is a moment of surprise, even climax, and I watched the actors drop into their roles and then suddenly out. It was a bit like hitting pause on a YouTube.  Perhaps no surprise there either, they are actors after all.  What impressed me, and I suppose did surprise me, was how they were coming to grips with both understanding the moment and grappling with how to convey that moment.

I’m sure everyone has been in a difficult conversation that you replay again and again.  Maybe it was that annual review time, maybe it was a breakup or the loss of someone.  The replay finally happens when the storm is quiet and you find yourself in an Aha moment discovering what you should have said or done.

The rehearsing is that but for our benefit and: it is work.  Without that work the script was interesting and the reading was interesting but not touching in the way that such a team as the MRT is clearly able to reach.

Up until now my experience had been of rehearsing with no stage and nearly no props. Finally, today I was able to see a portion of the play on the stage with the full staging around the actors.  Both actors seemed to have been transformed yet again.  Right from the first reading one of the actors seemed to live out the play with body movements and much more so than the other actor.  With the stage all that movement came alive.  All that work discovered a new and amazing expression. The other actor’s quieter style now carried a power and depth not easily seen before by me.

Be prepared to be transported and dragged along to places you didn’t know about, places within yourself. See it more than once if you can.

-Dominic Ryan, Cohort

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