The actors have now spent days rehearsing their spoken lines together with their movements on the ‘stage’. The setting is the extensive hardwood floor of the rehearsal hall, where the large meeting table was removed to reveal lines of colored tape, marking the boundaries of the eventual theater sets.
I feel privileged to get a few glimpses into how involved the process of getting a play ready for the stage really is. It soon becomes clear that while the playwright is the parent who conceives the play and gives it life, it requires that she be joined by a whole village of actors and theater staff, in order to nurture and grow the play into its full mature potential.
This is most apparent in those complex scenes where physical action and movement play a large role, in addition to the spoken word. In a fascinating earlier blog post (Stage Combat:”Extreme Acting“), Ted Hewlett explained how theatrical fights must be very carefully scripted and rehearsed in order to create the illusion of a real fight. In a later stage of the fight scene rehearsal, Marianne and Adrian repeatedly act out the fight in slow motion and develop the details of integrating the spoken lines into it. At one point the director suggests “If you say that line just before you punch her in the stomach, it will be even funnier!” And in the next run-through, it definitely is.
The actors seem to enjoy the rehearsal process. One reason, I am guessing, is that it allows such scope for their creativity and talent. A short but key interaction between Val and Owen involves physical humor and what could be called the “language of the body.” Its complexity requires multiple repetition. And with each repetition, it transforms itself before my eyes, and becomes bolder and funnier, while at the same time flowing more smoothly and naturally.
So as you are enjoying the performance of Home of the Brave, keep in a corner of your mind that it took a heap of ingenuity, talent, time, focus and repetition to bring the play from the script all the way to the stage.
-Mike Friedman, Cohort