First weekend of rehearsals for Lesser Seductions

Sunday, October 4, 2009 Leave a Comment

Rehearsals began this weekend for The Lesser Seductions of History. Usually, I have a moderate to high level of panic as rehearsals begin, but this weekend (I say with great caution out of fear of jinxing things) went really well. There is a focus, positive energy and playfulness in the room. People oohed and aahed over the designs (Asa's montage gave us chills). Heather has created a clear shape to the scenes, and several of the actors are already off book. We actually had time today after working 1961 to go back and run 1960 into 1961.

Which is not to say there aren't major challenges. One of the biggest is navigating the rules of the 4 worlds. In production meetings, we realized there are four relatively distinct worlds in the play:

1. The real world, where we are doing a play at the Cherry Pit
2. The transition world, where we set the scene to move from world 1 into world 3
3. The play world of the 1960's
4. The seduction world, where time stops and the characters have an epiphany that changes the course of their lives

The play is divided into ten scenes for each year of the 1960's, and each scene moves through the four worlds. The exception is 1968, where everything crashes and comes apart at the seams (more on that later). We need the audience to feel these worlds without thinking about it; and we need the actors to find each world moving their personal arc forward.

There have been a lot of interesting discussions on how this might play out: some found the action in World 1 helping their character, others wanted to tune it out.

Highlights so far:
- Jake's deer-in-headlights expression as his Isaac (trying to hang a picture) walked right into the catch scene between Bobby and Barry - such are the joys of doing plays with overlapping scenes!
- The staging of Barry's (Matt Archambault) seduction - up high in the stands, everyone below watching him, as he sees Maris' 61st home run and it changes his path - beautiful stage picture.
- Our ASM Doug reading in for Ingrid as Anisa - he played her with a great deal of sensitivity in a tough scene.
- Enjoying the spacious confines of NYR Studios - what a difference a real space makes to a rehearsal process.
- The one-two punch of Becky Kelly and Jason Tseng who deftly sketched three costumes each for ten characters with a logic to the overall arc and an eye to detail - I'm especially exited about Martha's costume journey and One as Twiggy/Hepburn.
- Bobby and Barry's scene before Maris' home run - really specific work from both actors already
- Tegan's "It feels necessary".
- DeWanda's wig - wow! Oh, and yes also the drive up from Alabama with George "I'm sorry about your dead poet."

AND...we've started a kind of exciting Twitter project that will be announced after it has a few days of legs, but if you can't wait, there's a hashtag called #LesserSeductions just waiting for you.

Tomorrow night, 1962 - our first big year with several big challenges, not least of which is our move to a smaller space. I'll be posting when I can, and tweeting when I can't, to bring the action to you.

If you were there...what were your thoughts?

And now, for your candid picture pleasure, our intrepid actors enjoying some left over party food on a break:
(Photo: Candice Holdorf. Pictured: Isaiah Tanenbaum, Michael Davis, Christina Shipp)