Oleanna

… ARCHIVED REHEARSAL NOTES

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This page contains rehearsal notes and thoughts from a past production’s rehearsal process:

Oleanna poster

REHEARSED Jan-Apr 2012

OLEANNA by David Mamet
Carol – Becky Forbes
John – Scott Shannon

Director – Nicholas Cole

ALL PHOTOS by Diane Cole


OLEANNA Notes – July 24/2012(PM)
Just getting around to a “final note” now … when the play was over, as is usually the case, I always need to just walk away from the entire endeavour and forget about it … for a number of reasons: my head needs the break – either from riding a high off the run (DANGER: EGO ALERT!) or needing to break a stupor that the dissolution creates in me (always sad when it’s over); or I need to be with my family; or I feel the need to just quit this entire nonsense altogether … I ain’t gonna confess which of the former options I felt after Oleanna, but simply that I had to step away …

The show was a true accomplishment, I feel, and I’m very proud of the work Nick, Becky and I did together and I miss our times in the space with each other – that’s the biggest thing, for sure.

Having finally been inside a Mamet play I feel even more drawn to his theories and philosophies of drama and theatre … looking forward to taking this into the next project, which should begin in some regard very soon …
scott

PS: The SJ run went very well with Becky and I owning the show just that much more after the comfort of having run it for the Freddy crowd … I really dig being able to play something in a couple of spaces and in different towns …


OLEANNA Notes – April 17/2012(PM)
In some sense, tonight was our final “rehearsal”. Tomorrow night, Becky and I will meet for a line run and on Thursday night we’ll run the show by ourselves – just the two of us in the room. Nick’s day/night job is stealing him from us for the next two nights so he can illuminate the Playhouse stage. The run with just us should be weird … I’ve done that before for a couple of the one-man shows I’ve done, where I’ve just full-out performed the show by myself in the rehearsal space; an interesting exercise, but you can certainly tell what’s lacking from the equation = an audience. The director is, after all, an audience. And of course, at least this time there will be two of us lost in the play’s world during the run …

David Mamet's OLEANNA (March 2012)


And so, tonight we ran the show, which basically chugs like a well-oiled machine at this point, and some moments were better for me personally than others (which is always the case), but overall we had a kickin’ run. At least, I felt very good about it all. Basically, we are maintaining and just need to get back in front of the actual audience. That’s where the final piece of the puzzle is at this stage. There’s nothing wrong that we’re fixing at this point, merely playing a little here and there, and refining things. It’s nice to have the time but Friday > Saturday is gonna be a wonderful ending rush to this entire process.

I look forward to once again taking what Nick has shaped onto the stage and sharing the flow of the show with Becky in front of an audience I can only assume will yet again be engaged by what we’ve done with Mr. Mamet’s script … I don’t think it’s wrong for me to feel pride about the work we’ve done, especially when that feeling is generally vindicated by the reactions of the audience we do get to our shows. I’m thankful for their time and hope we give them something worthy of it – I believe we do.

scott


OLEANNA Notes – April 11/2012(AM)
Tonight = exactly what I love in a rehearsal run: we nailed the show and still found room to manoeuvre within that and make new discoveries. A wonderful evening in the space. I really felt that Becky and I connected perfectly tonight in a number of moments, and that fed into the drive and intensity of the show even more for me. I feel really good about what we did tonight (last night?) – for me, this is the first time since we’ve regrouped that I felt the rhythm and beauty of Mamet’s language was actually doing what it should … and, of course it took a few kicks at the can for us to find that place again. But, as I said in an earlier note, we’ve also got a leg up now for this coming run because we just *know* the show that much better – how could we not?

Man, there was a moment in Act 3 when I was looking into Becky’s face/eyes and it was heartbreaking … very powerful … can’t wait to share the show in SJ!

Becky Forbes as 'Carol' & Scott Shannon as 'John' in OLEANNA


Tonight showed us how much we can do with the play – and can still do … of course, one can easily derail the show by breaking the pace and momentum, but I think we’re just getting more and more comfortable with it each time we meet and the final performances for an audience are something I anticipate with both joy and sadness … another week or so of prep work, and then the final run … time certainly does fly …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – April 10/2012(AM)

Becky Forbes as 'Carol' & Scott Shannon as 'John' in OLEANNA


Before I head to bed, I just wanted to express how easy it is to make theatre with Nick and Becky. For Nick and I, whom I have directed in the past, this is our third time within the past year in this version of the director-actor relationship; and with Becky, I’ve directed her a couple of times and now performed a few of Nasty shows with her as well. Coming into the room to do the work is so easy and seemingly effortless – mind you, we’re all working hard! – and I think that is just due to us getting along so well, but more importantly that we are all in the room to work and have come prepared. At the times where one of us was not ready to move forward, and it’s happened to each of us, then we did not push ahead needlessly, but instead we would refine/rework/solidify past work. It really has been a process that has run smoothly …

And so, today we got together and ran some bits, and Nick had us punch/alter/mute certain things to try some moments differently to see if it worked, and it was all good prep work. Then we ran the show, which in some sense now runs like a well-oiled machine for the most part, with some moments – and we know the ones! – being minor quirks in the system at this point as we make our way back into the show more and more each time … the SJ run is gonna find Becky and I firing on all cylinders, and it is gonna be fun.

scott


OLEANNA Notes – April 5/2012(AM)
After a brief hiatus we – Nick, Becky and I – were back in the Drama Room again tonight to rehearse/run Oleanna. It felt good to do that. I almost enjoy the return better because the level of control over everything is higher after stepping away and coming back – at least that’s the impression the last few shows have given me since we also had a longer break between the Tooth and Monster runs respectively. And each time we came back together for that lead up to the 2nd run I just felt such a calm about it. I keep the text running through my head in the interim (and with Monster that made for a rather horrifically minded summer! HA!), but I guess you just get to know it more. It would be nice to have the luxury of longer runs for shows, and I have wondered if it would be possible to run something for multiple Fri/Sat in a row, or once a month, or something like that. If that might generate more “buzz”, as they say.

Becky Forbes as 'Carol' & Scott Shannon as 'John' in OLEANNA


Anyway, our Oleanna run in Fredericton went very well, I thought. We had three solidly attended evenings at CSAC and I think each night we gave the audience quite a show that set off some talk amoung them as well. The energy in the room during the show each night really made me feel like Becky and I had their entire attention – and it wasn’t all a good feeling for everyone. But I think there’s something challenging about it all that is worth the experience. I felt quite good about the entire run, really, since I just felt like Becky and I synced well and played off each other in a very complimentary manner. But, Friday night was my favourite overall night. When the lights came up to open the show Thursday, I almost felt like I was going to space out (and possibly faint, just a little) – the entire space seemed dreamy to me with the audience finally out there but also simply *right* there in front of us. But then all that vast space around us (we played on the floor in the auditorium with the audience on risers facing us at the centre of the room) just seemed so expansive and hearing my voice echo out to the walls and spinning into the light *almost* made for a weak moment on my part … the fun of a live event, eh? HA!

Looking forward to the different intimacy the SJHS Mini-Theatre affords us – I dig the cavernous feel to the room. I’ve had many performances on that stage that have just felt like you wish it could feel every time. I like the room. I think Oleanna will be quite an experience in that space.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be refining the work we’ve already done, which is a fun stage too. Some things didn’t quite feel right and/or it might be worth trying something a different way. Now is the time for that experimentation …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – March 21/2012(PM)

Becky Forbes as 'Carol' w/ Scott Shannon as 'John' in OLEANNA


The energy was new, fresh, and strong in the space tonight and, I think, we had a great run! And we did last night too, despite how it may have felt to Becky or I – because it doesn’t matter. Nick is watching the show – and has been watching the show over and over for some time now – and he is still thoroughly engaged which speaks to the strength of the script for sure, but also that we must be doing something right, eh? … mind you, he certainly had his hands full tonight with us setting up, and then him setting up lights, and then programming the lighting for the show’s 3 acts, and then us jumping right into the run which is a non-stop push from the top of the show to the bottom with the brief costume change for each of us between the acts. I think it’ll be odd for the audience as we pause to do the changes, but we need to do it, it gives them (the audience) a chance to catch their breath, and then bam! We’re back at it! I think that works better than having an entire intermission break since the acts are more like long scenes, with the longest running at a half hour, and the other two hitting around 20min each. The push through the show, with the brief pauses, will be part of how the show works for us, I think. It’s relentless in some sense.

The set-up went pretty smoothly, aside from some audio trouble. We had a few folks show up to help move the risers, which we are VERY THANKFUL for! It made it go so much smoother and more quickly. It was a HUGE help!

And so, we open tomorrow night … it has been a wonderfully engaging process thus far with Nick guiding us into the performances we’re delivering. And now we’re stepping out in front of the crowd under his lights and gaze to let loose all we’ve worked through. It is a pleasure and, well hell, an honour to share the stage with Becky in this show – she is incredible folks. Wait until you see her … she is capable of, and performs, the perfect ‘Carol’. Working with these two has been a real treat … sad the time is coming to an end, but that’s the deal …

We’re going to have a run that does this play proud, I think, and I’m stoked and looking forward to performing for an audience … and thanks to Mr. Mamet for this text … wow …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – March 21/2012(AM)
I wasn’t happy with last night’s run … on a personal level. As Nick noted, I think we hit the marks and moved through the process, but I never really got “into it”, if that makes sense. I felt a distance from the beginning – partly because I’d forgotten my pen for Act I, which I need, and that thought (as stupid as this might sound) plagued me for the first 10min or so … and by then I was too far gone to get back in it seemed.

But, it’s funny how what the actor “feels” is basically irrelevant. Nick’s perception of the run was that we’d superseded our performance from the previous evening. Becky, when we finished the run, said she felt similar to me in terms of not liking the performance, nor feeling “into it” while it was happening. However, I know I was quite swept up by some of her stuff in Act II – there’s one speech in there she just nailed! – and then her monopolization of Act III seemed very strong to me and looking in her eyes I saw a face that truly was ‘Carol’. And yet, Becky herself felt a disconnect … just as I did with ‘John’ … and yet, the performances carried through … funny how that works, eh? HA! Just another reinforcement of how little it matters about the actor’s internal state – the audience is watching the action of the actor, not reading their minds, and so, we end up delivering exactly what we need to give the audience … it’s just a better feeling at the end when you, the actor, have been swept into that journey more as well to ride along with the audience … that’s the magic side of the equation, when that happens. But, at base, this is a craft that requires skill in execution, not an internal journey for the craft person … the craft brings the goods to the audience regardless of the artisan’s mood, etc … that is something to be proud of, I think.

Meeting Nick this afternoon for preparations in CSAC, and then we’ll run a tech/dress rehearsal tonight for a select few before we open tomorrow night …

This part of the process has come to an end … even the rehearsals for SJ after the Freddy run won’t be in the same stage as we are now … we’ll have the opportunity to refine/change anything we want, but this initial step of discovery and development has come to an end … further work will be in a new light … and that’s all good …

Hoping the load-in and run tonight go smoothly and allow as a restful night afterwards as we get psyched for the run …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – March 20/2012(AM)
So Friday night was spent sculpting and refining the Act III work we’d done the night before, along with some new discoveries in the mix.

Then we rehearsed the ending, which I don’t really think I should discuss — not wanting to give it away for those of you not familiar with the play. It’s physical and I hope I, the actor, am treating Becky, the actor, properly. I know that wasn’t the case at first, but then I got more control over the situation by relinquishing more control to her … it’s hard not getting swept up in the energy and momentum.

Sunday found us picking up with Act III again, refining some spots, and then running it a couple of times. This was extremely useful since reaching the end of a play always greatly informs how the rest should play out, and so, we’ve got some work to do this week on Act I and Act II – just some minor tweaking and such.

We ran the whole show on Sunday after the Act III work and it was incredible how fast it all goes by … it’s quite a whirlwind! It gave me a more clear picture of John’s “journey” through the play, but I’ve still got some work to do on that.

Last night we did some spot work on Act I, after rehearsing some physical stuff and drilling lines in a few of Act I’s more tricky exchanges. Then we ran Act I. A great build on top of the work we’ve done this past week. Again, just another exposure to Act I in light of a more complete picture of the entire play.

And then we ran the whole show. It’s intense moving from Act I > Act II > Act III without any real break – this is a good thing, I think. The audience won’t have time to catch their breath until the play is over. This was an incredible run of the show – despite Nick’s chastising of a moment near the end that ruined all that good work for him. Becky and I hit some great notes and strides last night – she is the one that makes this performance of the play. Without a sympathetic ‘Carol’, ‘John’ wins in spite of his terrible behaviour. This is not the case with our production. Becky’s ‘Carol’, like Becky herself, is too damn likable not to sympathize with … even if she (‘Carol’) is out to lunch with some of what the character is actually *saying* and *doing*, Becky’s commitment to the role and the sculpting Nick has done through the process has created us the ‘Carol’ the show really needs to succeed – in so far as the play is striving to not favour either side of the “argument”. Without that element, there’s a sense of failure about it, I think. That’s not to say that the audience won’t split and side with one or the other at the end, but they’ll have quite a time reaching that as we bounce around their expectations throughout our portrayal of the play.

Another run tonight, and then tomorrow we move into CSAC to get the Auditorium ready for a dress run tomorrow night … and so, we’re once again reaching the end of the process, which is my favourite part … sad to see the playing time go, but looking forward to playing for the audience we do get out to the show …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – March 16/2012(AM)
Picked up our Act III work last night – this portion of the play, like Act I was for me, is a like a huge set-piece for Becky to hold forth as Carol. As a result, Act III also finds ‘John’ and ‘Carol’ in opposite roles from the opening of the show – ‘Carol’ is now the authority in the room, and ‘John’ has no choice but to learn from her … whether he likes it or not. And so, we each find ourselves “performing” different versions of the characters than the audience has seen thus far.

Oleanna (In Rehearsal) with Becky Forbes & Scott Shannon


From an acting standpoint, Act III presents a very unique challenge for me: Not much to say or seemingly do. I have to sit and just let what Becky says wash over me, with some occasionally minor interjections. It’s always an interesting exercise trying not to “act” like you’re “acting” like you’re listening. Focusing on Becky is key. The more I direct my focus/attention at her, the more engaged the two of us are, and I think the audience by extension.

Our final run of work last night found us running from the top of Act III to where we finished working last night – 2 pages from the “surprise” ending, which we’ll take considerable time to work tonight. But, running from the top of the Act and moving through the scenes we’d just worked found those scenes coming even more alive and us hitting our marks better than we had all evening, really. It’s hard sometimes working from the middle of a moment, and these Acts are really just long scenes, which need breaking down for purposes of working on them. It’s when we sandwich things back together that new angles/reactions become evident … some good, some bad …

We’ll run Act III tonight and then hold off until Sunday for our first full run of the show. It’s weird because we’ve had Act I > Act II down for a while, and that’s like 80% of the show … so it will feel VERY nice to reach the end moving through the whole show …

Looking forward to the work tonight …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – March 13/2012(AM)
LINES! LINES! LINES! This has been the concentration this past week or more … we have Act I & Act II in the bag, and began work over a week ago on the first half of Act III … we then got sidetracked due mostly to my lame ass migraines last week … Becky then got the rest of Act III in her head, but unfortunately our leader, Mr. Cole, is tied up with TNB at the moment creating luminescent magic for a musical but he meets back with us on Thursday night.

Oleanna (In Rehearsal) with Becky Forbes & Scott Shannon


And so, the past few days, and again today, Becky and I have met – and will meet! – to run lines for the show. This has actually proven to be a valuable piece in the process. I mean, line running is always good, but with this text it is paramount – we need these lines to roll off our tongues without thought getting in the way … there’s no time for that in the moment. The pace moves too quickly, and has to for the most part. Last night found us really snapping along for most of it, which was great and a good feeling. There are still some tricky exchanges that are stalling us, but we are going to work those through tonight by drilling them over and over before running the entire show a couple times.

I’m also trying to make sure I run my lines for the entire play on my own every day from this point forward. It’s a must and I would be kidding myself if I thought I didn’t need to do that. (Keep in mind that we are all occupied daily with our day/night jobs, so we have to wrestle in these moments of concentration and can, of course, only commit so much time each night to the project.)

This concentration on lines this past week has been an immense help – aside from Becky and I running lines together, we haven’t had an actual rehearsal in a week or so. This has worked out okay though. Act I & Act II are already as solid as they can be at this point, and we’ll finish work on Act III on Thursday night. I think Nick’s plan would be to then drill Act III again on Friday when we meet, and then perhaps do our first full run that night. We already know what it feels like to move through Act I > Act II (which adds up to more than 75% of the show since Act I is longer than Act II & III together), but adding in the drive through Act III is going to be a real nice feeling for us all to reach together.

The show has definitely taken over my brain … and that’s a good thing …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Feb 28/2012(PM)
We’re getting to the point where we can actually play honestly with the moments as they happen within Nick’s shaping of the framework outlined by Mamet’s text. We ran Act I > Act II tonight, which is what we did a couple of times this past Sunday. This was a great reinforcement of the work we’ve all done together over the past month. And I personally found it very useful for trying some new gestures/postures and tones/deliveries, as well as trimming down on certain things I have been doing where I’m finding I am too busy with my hands – that’s a natural thing for me to do – or even my face. I tried going rather large with ‘John’ from the start (or so I felt), and now I’m finding that more restrain is certainly better. There’s a speech near the end of Act II where it just feels I am hitting the delivery as … well, I don’t think I could do it “better” — and I am just standing there holding a pen – an end in each hand – and I am looking at Becky/’Carol’ and just trying to make her understand I was simply trying to be nice. I am trying to take what I’ve learned from the way we worked that moment into my presence the rest of the time … sorta … it was just a good feeling there on the floor in the rehearsal room, so there must be something to take from it …

Of course, we are also still doing some spot rehearsals of various moments in each act before and/or after doing the run because there are some sections that are proving more difficult, as is to be expected. Or, something happens in the run that opens the door to an option we hadn’t considered – or closes a door to an option we had considered and have now been shown that it does not work. There is still trial and error happening in the runs and outside them, so the piece continues to evolve and morph … it is rather fun, I have to say.

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Feb 23/2012(AM)
We alarmed a passerby on Tuesday night while working the end of Act II – it was pretty hilarious! The act ends with John restraining Carol from leaving his office, not that he is *trying* to be a bully but wants to talk with her before she leaves but she doesn’t want to stay and her lines are to the effect of: LET ME GO! HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME! LET ME GO! Well, when Becky was yelling that and I was holding her arms and we were flailing around a bit, somebody walked by our rehearsal room and then did a double-back to look in the window and make sure all was well! We assured him everything was fine, and he seemed to realize that we were just rehearsing – but he was fairly alarmed at first! (And, it’s good he *would* stop if he heard a woman calling for help!).

This means we have now made our way through Act I & II of the play.

We finished the night with a full run of Act II, which was hard going at first after doing so much scene work on the end of the act for the bulk of the evening – simply showed me how tired I was, and how my cold was dragging my head’s processing. But, it was great to run the entire act and get a feel for the progression/movement from top-to-bottom – very helpful! And fun!

Tonight, we’ll be running Act I > Act II, so that will be a big night for us pushing us forward. We are making great strides in the work and by the start of March we’ll have worked and run the whole play and can focus that month on running, running, running! And tweaking!

Becky and I will need to start getting together for line-runs though. The lines need to get to the point where they are not thoughts but instincts/reactions to what is happening – thinking is deadly on stage, especially in this play with the text we have. Thought will slow things down needlessly … gotta get the lines real solid.

I’ve almost got the whole play in my head now … just the end of Act III left to go! I’m glad because memorizing, while it comes easily to me, is certainly not a favourite part of the process for me – I love having the words in my head! Just hate getting them there! HA!

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Feb 19/2012(PM)
After what ended up being a quiet week, we were back to Act II tonight. We first touched it a week ago, just the opening two scenes – which was essentially me spewing text at Becky for 2 pages and then allowing her a couple of interjections over the next couple pages. Today was good because we kept going into the 2nd half of the act which finds Carol (Becky) stepping up to command more presence in the room and found some really wonderful moments.

There was a particular moment where Becky was standing in front of the desk (at which I’m seated) and she has this half-cocked pointing arm/finger directed at me and delivers this aside-clause in the midst of a larger statement with such vehemence and grit – VERY NICE!

Nick began the day pointing out a quote from the Mamet Conversations book I loaned him. Mamet, speaking about Oleanna, says that these characters, Carol and John, care for each other but end up with blinders on for only their own side of the equation and forget what it means to think of the other as an *other* – I’m obviously paraphrasing – but the point is that their stance on the issue of education or whatnot becomes their downfall. Tragic. Mamet has stated its John’s tragic fall because he realizes his hubris at the end of the play – Carol does not get to experience such a revelation because the play ends, so in the Aristotelian sense (of whom Mamet is a *big* fan), John is the tragic hero. But it is incredible how each side of this two-way conversation plays out with such lure and interest because they are *never* listening to each other – at the end, it’s even John’s own actions that are the final straw which halt him in his tracks, not anything Carol says. Craft-wise, this text is packed tight without *any* frivolity or loose ends. Quite an achievement it seems. A perfect example of the “well-made” play … which puts me in mind of the first example of such that was shown to me, lo those many years ago in Intro to English: Arthur Miller’s All My Sons … which then makes me wonder if that isn’t a show the Shadows could pull off in the future …

And but so, anyway, that ramble above started with this thread: Each character is trapped in their own convictions. This was a good note to begin the day with. I’m just trying to soak everything in and explore different aspects of delivery for John, and thus alternate sides of John. I feel I’m being maybe too playful in so far as I’m not nailing certain things down as well as usual, but this text is thick and I think the next layer of work will find me feeling my groove, so to speak. I think, generally, that ends up being the case … go figure: all that start-up prep work and early rehearsals yields results you can build on and use; who knew? (We always laugh at this thought in rehearsal when one of us states it aloud, “Man, tonight felt good. I feel the scene is getting better.” D’UH!)

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Feb 7/2012(PM)
Oh, boy. Tonight was amazing and scary all at the same time. Amazing because at the moments it clicked, it felt real nice. But, even those moments didn’t trump the scare of being shown how fucking hard this play is. Wow. I was more scared than amazed. And that’s cool at this point in the process. I think.

Teacher


We ran Act I. Twice. With notes after each run. It was a lot to process over the course of the evening. Again, the text is just so dense. Not a breath or beat is wasted. But, when you, the actor, waste or flounder those moments and that rhythm, it can really throw you … or so it seems to me at least. Watching something or reading a play that falls into the “well-made” play category means you can count on no waste; that everything in the work is aiming towards the same goal. This is the case with Oleanna. But being inside something so tightly wound is quite an exhilarating challenge. And, as noted above, scary. I’ve had the pleasure of running some solo works written by Daniel MacIvor and those walk that same edgy pace. I’m not sure I’ve been in a multi-actor work that felt so driven. Sure, a play is always moving towards it’s ending. But sometimes that journey lethargic – for good or bad reason – and sometimes that journey is just like sludging through the muck to reach the end so it can be over.

Oleanna is something utterly different than any other play I’ve been a part of – but I can say that for many plays I’ve been a part of, and that’s what I like about doing this.

Onto Act II work on Sunday … much memorizing to be done this week …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Feb 6/2012(AM)
Act I blocked – at least the first pass. We worked the last couple scenes of the act today, touching the very end of the act for the first time in the space together, and that felt good. So we now have combed over and worked Act I in the initial stages taking us to the point we are ready to run the act on Tuesday night which will really give us – at least it will me, and I’m sure Becky and Nick too – a better sense of who these people are and the relationship they have together. Act I is the set-up for why there is and Act II & III, so there’s an essential energy/vibe that needs to be present in the interaction it seems. We’ve worked this along the way, and Tuesday night’s run of the act will tell us how things are looking and feeling before moving onto Act II. This is a great step in the process.

Student

I have some concerns/reservations about the ‘John’ I’m performing/portraying/creating, which I haven’t said aloud in the rehearsal room yet – so, Nick, if you’re reading this perhaps we could/should chat? HA! My fear is that my ‘John’ is, at this moment, too “nice”. I know the language is condescending at times, but at times it’s spirited ‘John’ seems sincere/authentic. I’m playing ‘John’ as if *I* were a university professor. While I’m not a teacher, I work in academia, and I have numerous examples to pull from for notions of professors, but at base I have to be *me* as the professor … in some sense. I’m focusing on Mamet’s notion that all I can bring to “character” is myself. That’s all I have. But, I wonder if I’m too animated; too melodramatic; too, I dunno, over the top. I wonder what a more reserved ‘John’ would feel/play like? A more reserved, but yet elusive John so that some of these exchanges between he and ‘Carol’ have more ambiguity? Is that what we need/want? Part of this isn’t my concern – I’m not directing. But, part of it is because I do want to ensure that the audience sees ‘John’ for who he really is, and that this is not news at the end of the play. It’s there from the start. Nick is liking where things are at the moment, and I certainly trust his guidance, but perhaps some of these are avenues to explore as well … Tuesday night will show me how much this is already happening, and where moments can or need to be tweaked.

It is SO NICE to come in each time and run these scenes from their initial stages with us off-book – it really allows for progress in the work. And fun in the playing.

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Jan 25/2012(PM)
15min. That’s how much text we’ve covered so far in the hours of work we’ve spent. HA! But man, it felt real nice to run that 15min of the show, despite the state of the scene at the moment (i.e. we’re still pretty rough). Nonetheless, that was a good end to an evening that started a little rocky for me – I hate coming to rehearsal in a rush from somewhere else because you can’t warm-up properly so you spend the first while getting into gear. The first go from the start was pretty rough for me in terms of lines, having concentrated on some later pages in the time I had throughout the day – and hell, these lines are tough! I have said, and I’m still thinking, that this is the toughest “text” I’ve ever approached … I was almost afraid we bit off more than we could chew with this one, but the moments where Becky and I sync-up coupled with the 15min run of the top of the show last night has re-boosted my confidence in our efforts. Nonetheless, it’s one tough text … but it makes so much sense and rolls so smoothly in the few moments we’re currently nailing (well, maybe not “nailing”, but where both Becky and I are “on”).

And so, for the rest of the week we are off from rehearsal and cramming lines into our heads (Nick gets the rest of the week off since he’s *only* directing – HA! I’m kidding, man! I know you’re busy looking at the text and reading that Mamet book.)

We re-group on Sunday, beginning with a line-run for Becky and I, with Nick and our line-police arriving an hour or so after that.

Line-police = the kind fellas that have agreed to sit on-book for us during rehearsal. So, HUGE thanks to Tom, Andrew, and Matthew for stepping in and agreeing to share some shifts of coming in to police the text while we run scenes for Nick’s viewing pleasure. I know from sitting in the director’s seat that it stinks having to try and be on-book for the actors whilst trying to *watch* the actual scene. This text is more deadly than usual in that regard, hence our recruiting some suckers … err, I mean, theatrically interested peers to sit watching the text for us. Seriously though: THANKS!

scott

PS: I really can’t wait to get off-book!


OLEANNA Notes – Jan 23/2012(AM)
Now is not the time to break the habit I spoke of in my last note: I need the physical text in front of me for *at least* the secondary pass on a scene. Nick has us leading into a rehearsal running and working the scene we did at the end of our previous rehearsal, so that’s a good way to help solidify things that much more. For instance, today we began with running the top of the show into Sc.1.2 and spilling into 1.3, but spending some time on 1.2 before moving ahead and working on 1.3 for most of the afternoon. (Hopefully) On Tuesday, we’ll start with 1.3, or even at the very start of the script and at least run it before moving onto work on 1.4. It’s time well spent, I think, to keep the overall context in mind when moving onto the next scene to work and is just a good way to keep it all in mind – this is like running drills for a sport in some sense where you need to run the plays you’ll use in the game so you have them ready for when you are in actual play (that’s a Mamet analogy I’m spinning-off of). We used a similar process in rehearsing The Dumb Waiter each time, and I guess Nick and I did a similar thing with Monster. It’s easy to do when *everyone* in the show is there each time, but that’s usually only the case for small cast shows. I.e. this was not really possible with our work on Tooth before Xmas.

Not that working a show like Tooth isn’t fun – larger casts offer another type of experience in creating a piece of theatre – but I think smaller is more my thing where everyone seems to have a higher stake in what is happening and is that much more invested in the process because you just can’t help but be (and as the director, I know, you are consumed by the show). I know what it’s like to work a show where you are only in a portion of it, and sometimes it’s a nice break but as I felt with certain sports: I like things that offer me a higher level of participation. For instance, I enjoyed baseball when I played, but it was never my favourite because there was so much down-time in the game, while I loved hockey because the game was always moving. I like it when things are moving, and Oleanna certainly moves as we experienced today. I’m very lucky to be sharing the stage with Becky; she’s wonderful to play off of and has a very large presence in her work. She engages completely, and that is going to make this process very rewarding, and the play’s performance outstanding (for the Carol-side of things at least!). Nick is steering things along with specific suggestions that then colour a larger section of text and as a result I think both Becky and I are seeing a different “character” come alive for our respective roles than we anticipated. That’s awesome.

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Jan 17/2012(PM)
Wow. This is going to be hard. Listening to each other, like we’re instruments playing music, is going to be key to driving the pace Nick was hammering home to us tonight. I reckon we’ll need the constant reminder and pushing – which is great.

Getting off book for each scene as we work them will be what really helps the actual work in the rehearsal room. Glad we have until Sunday to gain some ground – having only begun rehearsing on Sunday I had not begun memorizing. With the way we do things, I like to have our initial read as a group and then take that home and begin from that point with the goal of always being pseudo-off-book for the initial pass on each scene. The comfort of the text in hand for reference is a luxury I like to employ; easy for making notes, and just keeping the scene moving by glancing for forgotten lines, etc. After that first pass on a scene though, I like get rid of the text. (And this is my “method” for usual playing – the solo shows I’ve done found me always staying ahead in my memorizing and never holding the text in the room as it would have been deadly. Sharing the space with another actor and working with the director as a group seems to make me rely on holding the text at first, as a crutch of sorts I suppose. Hmmm … perhaps it’s time to break that habit, or just give it a change.)

And now, after that late night ramble, I need to wind down and get some sleep … I’ve some line studying ahead of me this week …

scott


OLEANNA Notes – Jan 16/2012(PM)
Oleanna rehearsals have officially begun! Reading this play all alone was a very disjointed experience, indeed. Then, reading it yesterday with Becky for Nick helped the text make so much more sense.

[SIDE NOTE: Tooth of Crime’s run in SJ went over just as well as Freddy’s run – one of our largest audience turn outs in that city over the two day SJ run, so thank you to all who came out to experience the show. It was an incredible feeling doing it again when we took the show to SJ, and in such a different space – and now thinking about it brings back some amazing sensations to mind. Thanks to the cast/crew for that. But, now back to the play at hand … ]

Not that the play didn’t “make sense” to me before yesterday, but finally getting to experience Mamet’s language with a touch of how it should go down was quite enlightening (mind you, we certainly have some distance to cover!). I’ve been a huge Mamet-head for quite some time now, but I’ve never had occasion to stage any of his works – they just never fit our group, it seemed. I have a couple of others in mind as possibilities for the future, and I was actually looking at Edmond when Nick suggested Oleanna. I’ve known and loved the play for over 15 years, but I had, of course, always assumed somebody “older” would have to play the young professor – well, I’m now older. Perhaps slightly too young, but I am only a few years younger than the original actor to play the role (William H. Macy), so I think it works. It’s actually that youth/naiveté that I think can be useful/interesting in the role of ‘John’.

And so, the game has begun … first thing is first: GOTTA MEMORIZE THESE CRAZY LINES!

I think this text might be the hardest I’ve experienced for memorization … I know I’ve only just begun, but the text on the page looks almost daunting … which seems like a welcome challenge.

Tonight, I put the opening phone call conversation in my head … that was enough for one evening …

scott



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