With only about a month until tech week we have a lot to accomplish, and we did just that this past Saturday at NDW.
Will taught my favorite song from this show – “Stroke of Twelve” – to the Godparents and also worked with the step-families on their songs. I really do love the music in this show. Every number is different, but all are fun. I challenge you to not leave the theater humming one of these of songs!
Since the song “Twinderella” was taught the previous week, Lisa started to teach the choreography for it this week. If you still don’t know what this show is about, listen to this number – it tells you all you need to know. Also, you will never hear the name “Bob” the same again. Lisa also continued to work on the waltz for “This is Love.” I know that some people are being very middle-schoolish about partner dancing, but you just can’t have this show without the ball scene! (Or the base-ball scene.)
While those things were going on I worked with a few more of our actors on their characters and then played some improv games. This week’s improv game focused on trying to create a full scene in one minute – not an easy thing to do.
After break, Cindy and I started blocking the show. We got through the first 11 pages of the script – which is huge. Does that mean that those 11 pages are done and we don’t have to go back to them? Of course not, but we were able to lay the foundation which will allow us to add layers each time we work on it. The first scene is pretty long, so by getting through those first 11 pages we are getting right into the story and could finish blocking this long scene this weekend.
For those who are unfamiliar, blocking refers to where you go and what you do onstage. It includes exits and entrances as well as things like Snow White tossing an apple up and down (yes, that will actually happen in this show). I don’t know where the term “blocking” comes from (I mean, I could Google it, but where’s the fun in that?), but I could give you my take on a possibility.
The stage is divided into 9 sections. Each side of the stage is divided into 3 sections. So for the upstage part of the stage you have upstage right, upstage left, and upstage center. The same for downstage (downstage right, left, and center). Then there’s also a strip in the middle of the stage. The middle of that strip is center stage, with right of center and left of center next to it (usually just referred to as stage right and stage left). Not to confuse anyone, but you’d get the same sections if you split the stage the other way (Stage Right would consist of down right and up right, Center would have upcenter and downcenter, and Stage Left would have up left and down left). If you imagine each of these 9 sections as a block, the blocking tells you which of these 9 to stand or walk to. That’s probably not where the term comes from though…
When you’re writing your blocking (as all actors should always do), it’s not necessary to write everything out. Upstage right, for example, would just be UR. Here is a list of abbreviations to help you out:
UR – Up(stage) Right
UL – Up(stage) Left
UC – Up(stage) Center
DR – Down(stage) Right
DL – Down(stage) Left
DC – Down(stage) Center
C – Center Stage
SR – Stage Right
SL – Stage Left
AR – Aisle Right
AL – Aisle Left
LR – Loge Right
LL – Loge Left (this is only for spring shows at Wilson)
X – cross
Ex. – exit
Ent. – enter
Plat. – platform
Some people might use other abbreviations and that’s fine, as long as you know what you mean when you choose your various abbreviations. When I write blocking I write down what everyone’s doing, so something in my script might look like this:
Cind. ent. SL from behind plat to chair. Lucy ent. AR, X to Cind. Cind. X Þ Lucy.
If you are playing Cinderella, you might just write: “Ent. SL behind plat. to chair.“ Lucy might write: “Ent. AR, X to C.” It’s that simple!
Now a lot of people get upstage and downstage confused. I do know the actual origin of this, so allow me to enlighten you and prevent any further confusion. Back in the olden days, stages were slanted to allow the audience a better view of the stage. The back part of the stage was higher than the front. Therefore, if an actor were walking to the back of the stage he was literally walking “upstage.” Similarly, an actor who needed to walk to the front of the stage was literally walking “downstage.” And that is where those terms come from.
Now that you have all this fancy new theater jargon in your vocabulary why not try it out at the next rehearsal? I can’t wait to hear you use these terms.