This past Saturday, we not only ran the off-book scenes, but we also blocked through to the end of Act 1! Woo hoo! Our cast ran with music and dancing and after all of that, we still had time to get some new stuff in. Lisa worked with our bikers on their big number and I did character work with most of our 5th and 6th graders. They have great backstories, by the way.
Recently, I was complaining to a co-worker at the school where I work that I don’t have enough rehearsal time for the spring musical. She said back to me, “Well, is there blocking in the script? I’m sure the kids can just learn it on their own.” What? Um, that is not how it works. I informed her that if that was the case ,then a director would not be necessary. The thing is, sure, there are some stage directions in the script, so actors, in theory, could do all of this work at home and teach themselves blocking, but a play is so much more than that. Not to mention that the script’s stage directions don’t always match the director’s vision, set, etc.
So, what can a director offer that the script can’t? All of the little moments. All of the extra stuff that happens. All of the background in a scene that isn’t mentioned in the script. This is also what rehearsal is for. Act 1 may be blocked, but it’s not done, not by a long shot. There are character crosses that have to be put in to add atmosphere to the scene, there are nuances that need to be added to line readings and reactions, and so much more.
Every scene is like an onion. On the surface of a show like ours you have the blocking, singing, and dancing. The next layer down is the background stuff that some audience members might not realize they are watching. The layer after that might be line deliveries or gestures that add something different to the basic words on the page. All of these things create the full onion – the full show. If one layer is missing, something will feel off. Maybe the show won’t even feel real, allowing the audience to come out of the trance that theater holds over its audience.
As our actors rehearse and practice everything on their own more of these things will be added. The more comfortable they are with the show, the more they will be able to contribute to add these layers, as well. We’re just getting started and we still have more than a month left – imagine all the layers we can add!
I’ve been inspired by our bikers to share a movie clip with everyone this week. I grew up watching several Beach Party movies from the 60s starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon (as well as my uncle’s 3rd cousin – Donna Loren). In all of these movies, there are incompetent bikers who cause trouble and get in fights. In my head, these are the guys (and gals) I picture whenever I think of 60s bikers. Here is a clip from Beach Blanket Bingo.
I also want to share some music with you this week, as always. At one point during our show, Max is talking to Grace. Who’s Grace? Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and here is one of their songs. Max also talks to Janice – that’s Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin and the Holding Company sang a Kris Kristofferson song called “Me and Bobby McGee”. I hope you enjoy both of these songs.