It's the end of an amazing fourth week...
It's the end of an amazing fourth week. Now I think it's time you hear from some of the students involved in the production. After all, this production was conceived as a way to give them an enhanced experience. I asked a few of them to write about what it's been like so far. I hope to have entries from some of the other students involved in the production in the next weeks. Maybe even Dan De Raey.
So, here they are, in their own words.
There comes a time in every rehearsal process for me during which I start to notice qualities of the character I am playing creeping into my everyday life. Recently, that has started to happen to me more and more. It is hard to explain. The best way I can describe it would be to say that every once and a while I feel “haunted” by Emma. This is not necessarily a bad thing…in fact, I take it as a sign that I am starting to understand my character more…she is really starting to live in my body- even when I don’t necessarily mean for it to happen. A scary thing about this, however, is Emma’s rage. Now, I do not think of myself as an angry person. And I think that most people who know me would agree. This is not to say that I don’t get angry…I just don’t holler about it nearly as much as Emma does. I imagine that most people don’t. But after a run of Act II this past week (an act in which Emma leaves the stage without the chance to scream out her aggression), I met with some peers of mine to rehearse a directing scene for class…and my CD player wouldn’t work. Frustrated, and to my friends’ surprise, I let out a blood curdling Emma-esque scream. I suddenly felt better, but my buddies were pretty startled! I apologized, explained that I think the play is “getting to me,” and came to the conclusion that, from now on, if we ever run Act II by itself again, I should excuse myself, go in a separate area and scream the anger out. And maybe I should do that the next time I get enraged in my real life. This is a lesson I’m learning from Emma: it’s better to let your emotions out all in one scream then to let them fester within. So next time you’re really angry, just yell. It’s therapeutic, I swear. :-)
I have finally started to feel Wesley in my body. The first couple weeks, with the script in hand and all the other distractions that come with every show, I was discovering who Wesely was and learning more and more about him every day. How he walks, talks, and does anything in his life. Like putting a puzzle together. Before it was as though I had all the pieces and I couldn't fit them all together. This past week, however, was the first time that I felt that the pieces were starting to just flow into place and I really felt Wesley - his intelligence, courage, persistence, etc. living in me. I had had a bad night early in the week , that nobody else might have seen or even known, but I left feeling horrible about how things went and feeling just lost. And I came back the next night and we did a run through of the show and at the end of the night I felt great because things clicked for me and I left having such a greater understanding of Wesley and who he was in me. It wasn't a perfect run by any means but very fulfilling for me and my work. I look forward to these next two weeks before opening because I can now just play and continue to discover more and more about Wesley Tate... all the way up to closing night!
Mike Grew/Assistant to the Director
I'm primarily an actor, so it's been great having the chance to stand above the whole rehearsal process and help oversee it all. Having the professionals involved has created a great new dynamic. I have to admit, while I hugely admire them for the fantastic work they've been doing, I'm a lot more thankful to see them encounter difficulties; it's comforting to see that they struggle with the same frustrations as I do sometimes. Of course, there's nothing quite like working alongside Dan De Raey; he creates one of the safest and most comfortable environments for everyone to work in, and has that special ability to direct an actor just enough so that they come upon the answer themselves. I can only hope that the directors I work with in the future are at least half as enjoyable (and a quarter as interesting).
Jennie Cole/Assistant to the Director
Last fall, when I asked to Assistant Direct a show, I never thought that I would be working on this show. I feel very privileged to be a part of this process. I am very interested in one day directing and I have learned so very much just from observing rehearsal. I have gotten the chance to see what Daniel De Raey takes notes on when he directs a scene. While I still don’t always notice what he does during a run, which I assume is something that one learns over time and practice, I have recently realized, during my own directing scene rehearsals, that I have begun to take note of some of the same types of things and I got that just by osmosis during these weeks of rehearsals.
Maribeth Chaprnka/Stage Manager
As a stage manager (and a student), the experience of working with a cast and production team of both students and professionals has been rewarding for me on a couple of levels. Working with the cast has been a pleasure. Both the students and the professional actors have really put a lot into the show, and made rehearsals enjoyable. I have worked with student, faculty, and guest directors in my time at Maryland, and I learn a lot about the different ways each individual works. As a stage manager, it's important to me that I understand how everyone works best, which helps me to communicate with them. I also find out what doesn't work for them- and it's different every time. Lisa Vivo, the production stage manager, was one of the first stage managers I ever assisted at Maryland; on You Can't Take It With You. She taught me a lot of the basics of stage management then. This show presents different issues, such as Equity rehearsal guidelines and live animals onstage, and we're working together to figure out the right course of action for each situation. The opportunity to work with such an amazing group is one that all students here should experience before they graduate.
Lisa Vivo/Production Stage Manager
It has been almost six years since I graduated from the University of Maryland's Theater Department. Since then I have worked with many theater professionals in many theaters around town and I have become a manager in the Education Department at Arena Stage. Out of all of my experiences, however, I have been most honored from being asked twice in the past two years to return to the University as a guest artist. I have returned as a professional working side by side with the professors who gave me so much when I was a student and who taught me the meaning of excellence in theater and in all that I do. Now it has been my turn to return the favor with the amazing opportunity to pass on what I have learned to students who are where I was not so long ago. Two years ago, Maribeth Chaprnka was my assistant stage manager for You Can't Take It With You and Sean Hoagland was in the cast. This time around I am thrilled to be working with them both again and to see how much they have grown as artists, Sean developing his own approach as an actor and Maribeth using many of the same stage management techniques that I passed on the last time we had worked together. Being a part of the department's success not only when I was a student but also now as a professional is more of a compliment than any I could have asked for... it doesn't get much better than this.
See you next week.