We finished Act One! Well, mostly. We’ve touched upon all of the first act and have given actors their blocking, but that doesn’t mean that it’s “finished.”
This weekend, our actors were busy. Not only did we get through a lot of blocking, but Lisa also taught a few more dances (most notably “Work t’ Do”). And Will taught the rest of the songs (well, except for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” but everyone knows that). See what can be accomplished when we work together – and have 2 rehearsals in one weekend!
Will was telling me that in trying to get our Evil Step-Sisters to be more evil that they should sing like the witches in Hocus Pocus. Apparently, the girls didn’t know what Hocus Pocus was, let alone who the Sanderson sisters are. This was appalling to the both of us, so I am putting in a link so that everyone can be introduced to this wonderful movie (especially now that it’s October). This particular link is the big musical number in the movie. After you watch this, please spend some time watching Freeform this month, as the movie will not only be on a lot, but will also be accompanied by a 25th anniversary special.
Okay, back to Twinderella. After all the blocking has been given and a scene practiced, how do you get it to the point where it can be considered “finished”? It’s possible that the answer is never, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, but I’m here to tell you that a scene is “finished” after layers are added to it and everyone is doing more than just the blocking.
Every scene is like an onion. If you peel a layer, there should be more there. Sometimes this applies to what the ensemble is doing in a scene. For example, during the ball there is dialogue between Cinderella and the Princess. However, these characters aren’t the only ones in the scene that matter. Everyone else on stage has to be doing something to help bring the ball to life. Maybe one of our 5th graders is pretending to have a conversation about where her ball gown came from. Perhaps the Duchess and Countess are politely laughing about how ridiculous the Step-mother is. Maybe the Lady in Waiting is telling another character about the delicious food set up in the next room. All of these little interactions help to add something extra to the scene – to help it come to life. Without all of these little interactions, the show is very one-dimensional.
Sometimes the next layer down has to do with how an actor approaches the situation. One big factor that most, if not all, professional actors consider is motivation. Or, put simply, the want. What does the character want in this moment? In this scene? From this particular character? From that other character? What is the characters goal for the whole show? The King, for example, starts the show wanting his shoes to be tied. By the end of the show, he wants to tie them himself – and he does. When does his motivation change? Was it when he witnessed both Cinderella and Bob losing their shoes? If so, all of the second act should be subtly different from the first as the King now has a different agenda. That being said, the King might have other wants during the show. For example, in his first scene, while talking with his family, maybe he wants his children to be happy and have a good birthday. Maybe he wants to be as smart as his wife. Maybe he’s hungry and he really wants a PB&J (that one’s a little out there, I know). Whatever the King wants, that gets put into the play and now there’s something more interesting going on – even if the audience doesn’t realize it.
There are so many other ways to add layers to a scene, but it all boils down to actors filling the space in a positive way to breathe life into every inch of the play. When that is accomplished, then we will be “finished.”