We are off and running! There were actors singing and dancing all over Cole this past Saturday. Songs have been learned, dance moves have been reviewed, and soon, before you know it, we’ll have a show.
The first thing we did this week was hand out scripts to our actors and had our read-through. “What’s a read-through?,” you ask. Well, all the actors sit in a circle and read the script out loud. It’s the first time that the actors speak their lines, but it’s also the first time that the cast gets to hear others speak their lines. One thing I love about the read-through is seeing who is already in character. Usually, the 8th graders step up. Many of our actors take this seriously (as they all should) and really get into it. Shout outs to Jessica, Ryan, and Rebecca for already being in character, although they weren’t the only ones.
Now actors are asked to re-read their scripts. The more familiar an actor is with the entire show, the better rehearsals will go and the more each individual part will make sense. For example, in reading just your own lines, you aren’t seeing how your character could be interacting with other characters and actors. Who else is on stage in your scene? What just happened before you entered? All of these things affect your character.
In life this is true, too. Let’s say you walk into your classroom just as the bell rings and your teacher seems angry. You might think the teacher is mad at you for not being in your seat as the bell rings, or you might just think that your teacher is having a bad day. Now, as a person, you don’t know what happened before, but maybe if you knew that a student walked in, knocked the teacher’s coffee all over himself and the floor and then yelled at the teacher, rather than taking responsibility, you would react differently than if the teacher just really hates it when students aren’t in their desks when the bell rings.
In this case, you don’t have the script and you can only react to what you’re given. However, in a play, you do have the script. As a character, perhaps you are still clueless, but as an actor you have more power by knowing the whole story. If you are a fairy tale character you know that at some point in the story things get messed up and nothing happens like it’s supposed to. This is important information. As a character you are only concerned with what’s going wrong in your own story, but as an actor you know to be in a certain place so that Jack and Jill can have their moment to show what’s wrong, just as they know to move aside for your character when the time comes. You also know that there are things that happened offstage to your characters that the audience doesn’t get to see. You, as an actor, get to use your imagination to fill in those gaps (within reason) and make character choices based on what you decide. For example, how did Mary and Little Bo Peep’s sheep get lost/mixed-up? What happened off-stage that we didn’t see? As an actor you need to know the whole story from both sides and then pretend to know only what your character knows when onstage.
Boy, this acting can be a lot of work. But, it’s fun work. Just like school there’s homework: you have to know the play and reread it several times, memorize lines, blocking, lyrics, choreography, and make-up back stories. But it’s worth it. Acting can be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it can also be the most rewarding.
See you Saturday,