Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 12th rehearsal

Today's drawing: Favorite Vacation

Today we did an extensive warm-up so the cast could be energized and prepared to do the stumble-through. First we did some vocal warm-ups. Then we went onto "Chop, chop, saw", "Zoom", and "Ninja Foot Tag". By the time the designers came, the actors were ready to go.

The stumble-through went really well. There were some rough patches where blocking was wonky. After sitting back and watching the show straight through I definitely saw some blocking that needed to be fixed. Although there were some things that needed fixing, especially because of the new set, the whole cast did a wonderful job at following their instincts.

After the stumble-through, we blocked the end of the show. I knew this was going to be a more difficult part to block, not because there is extensive movement, but the emotional aspect made it hard. It isn't easy rehearsing a child's death over and over again, that's for damn sure.

From now on we are going to start working on the fine details and nuancing the show. Only 1 1/2 weeks until 1st dress rehearsal. Things are going to be crazy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 10th rehearsal

Today we did an exercise that took the cast back to their childhood. I found that it was rewarding for most and a little difficult for others.

My attempts to build the cast bond and really make this team whole has been very successful. I feel it is important to be able to connect with your cast on a different level. I believe that directing is a collaborative effort. Being able to have a bond with your cast but still draw the line of professionalism is hard, especially when the cast consists of your friends and peers, but in this case, the line is there and solid.

The cast has been generating so many wonderful ideas. Each person contributes to the success of the blocking.

We continued to block today and got a lot done. Since a lot of the scenes go back to similar places, the process goes a little faster.
I must give credit, where credit is due: Jordan was able to look at one of the scenes and see a perspective that had never come to mind. We tried his idea and it created an awesome image on stage!

We have not finished blocking like I had planned, but we have accomplished way more on the actor level than I had expected.

I am proud of you cast! Thank you for all your hard work today, it is much appreciated!

January 9th rehearsal

We had rehearsal at Noon today but everyone still seemed to be pretty exhausted. I think the first week is still lingering in all of us.

To warm up we stretched and we played a new game! I'm not sure of its official name but the morbid name we use is "the murder game." It is quite simple but forces the people playing to strategize and pay attention to their surroundings. To start off, all of the participants stand in a circle with their eyes closed, and I pick a "killer" by either tapping them on the head or the shoulder. Once I have chosen everyone opens their eyes and begins to move around the room and shake hands with other participants. The killer must conspicuously scratch the victims hand without anyone else noticing in order to kill them. Once you have been killed you must postpone your death so as to not reveal the killer and then die a melodramatic, slow and painful death. After at least three people have died, then someone may guess the killer if they think they know. If they are wrong, the die.
All the cast members seem to have a blast when playing this game! And it sure is hilarious to watch!

Todays Drawing: You and your me doll!
(I had the cast bring their own "me dolls" from home that represented them in some,way, shape or form)

We were in 1601 today, so our blocking options were limited. I skipped towards the end where the movement is limited and there aren't constantly 8 people on stage. There is one moment we blocked that was unexpectedly powerful. On paper, this certain moment seemed as though it would be an average scene but after staging it, it left a few of us in tears. I must say, the cast is really quite talented. I don't there is a rehearsal that has gone by where, at some point, they haven't brought a tear to my eye!

Tonight we are getting together to play games! Should be fun!

Tomorrow is going to be a special rehearsal.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January 7th rehearsal

Today seemed to be less intense. The idea of school and rehearsal are sinking faster into our brains. Our bodies are still getting used to the long hours and movement.

There were a lot more vocal warm-ups today. The cast learned "Zoo, woo, shaw." This warm-up focuses on the range of your vocals. There is movement that goes along with the vocals. This movement matches where the sound is coming from in your body. Joanna and Maria led us in this warm-up at a pace that everyone was able to keep up with.

Before I had the cast draw, I led them through a trust and detail exercise. I learned it from a friend wanted to try it out: Everyone stands in a circle facing the same direction. They close their eyes and start to explore the person in front of them. They want to memorize their hair, their back muscles, their clothing, etc. Keeping their eyes closed, I strategically placed the cast members a different parts on the stage. They then had to find the person in front of them by just feeling for the detail they memorized earlier. The goal is to reform the circle they began in by just touch and trust. They were successful both times they did the exercise!!

Todays drawing: Someone you look up to.

The cast is really starting to have fun with their drawings and think outside of the box. One person drew Gene Simmons from kiss as their hero!

We continued to block today and got to some of the fun parts in the script. The cast really loves to become kids! There is a scene where the chorus and Benjamin play tag. I had to run through it quite a few times, to make sure that the environment and blocking was safe for their rough-play. By the end of this they were all sweating and catching their breath! We skipped a few scenes with just Mother, Father, and Benjamin and focused on the scenes with the chorus. After a physically exhausting rehearsal I sent the chorus home early and kept Zane, Joanna, and Emily to go back to the 2 scenes we skipped.
As we began to do one of the scenes, I realized something wasn't working. Images were not grabbing my eye. Something was was the set. I don't have a set designer because I wanted the set to be a collaboration between director and actor. That is exactly what happened last night. The four of us sat and ran through ideas of how the blocks could be more interestingly and strategically placed on the stage. We figured it out!!!!!!!

It was really satisfying working together with my cast members to create a great set to play on! We had fun doing it and the collaboration was thought-provoking. It is a really great feeling when you accomplish something so creative with your actors.

After this session of building ideas, it was time to go home and get some rest. I don't need anyone getting sick! Next rehearsal is on Saturday and I am pumped to show the rest of the cast the new and improved set!!!

January 6th Rehearsal

First day of classes. First rehearsal back from break. An exhausting day.

Today we started off rehearsal by warming up. The actors seem to like the vocal warm-up "What it to do, to die, today" and the physical warm-up "Chop, chop, saw." "What it to do, to die, today" focuses on annunciation and diction. "Chop, chop, saw" is used to build focus, rhythm, and energy within the group. First the cast played to get the hang of the game and then started to eliminate those who could not keep up with the rhythm. Usually there are two winners in the game because there must be three people to execute the necessary actions but Emily and Moira both missed a beat simultaneously, leaving Jordan as the solitary winner!

Every day after warm-ups, I will give the actors a subject to draw. Benjamin was able to express his emotions in his artwork, so I thought I would give the cast a chance to do this as well.

Todays drawing: Favorite pet or favorite animal.

After warm-ups all cast members gathered around in a half-circle. I spread out paper, crayons, and markers in the center of the circle. The cast immediately started to draw their cats and dogs from home and one member even drew "Bubbles" the pink elephant (this is their dream pet). I told them to interperate the subject however they liked. Some drew cartoon styles, others realistically, and a few put shoes, hats, and ties on their animals.
During the time that the cast draws, this also allows them to tell stories and bond.

First day back and we immediately got the play on its feet. I had created images that I wanted to portray and used the rehearsal time to get them there. The first 14 pages of the script are very difficult. There are constantly 7 or 8 people on the stage and the setting is always changing. All of us put our brains together to come up with new and fun ideas. Without some of the props it is hard to fully execute the blocking because there are silks that play an integral part in the movement.

All in all, a lot was accomplished on this long and exhausting day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Readthru

After waiting so long to hear the cast read The Yellow Boat outloud, it finally happened. The readthru was a reminder of why I chose to direct this play. Hearing it read out loud was awesome. Since the show is so heavy in content, I was nervous that everyone would take things too seriously but that was definitely not the case. Everyone that came to listen or read was ready and willing to give it their all. It was great to see that the cast and crew were ready to get started. The reading definitely brought some tears to a few people's eyes which means that there are plenty more to come!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Hello all,

I decided to start a blog to keep record of the ups and downs of The Yellow Boat rehearsal process. Since Lab Shows are meant to showcase the work of the director and the actors, I thought it would be neat to see the progress that is made on the show from start to finish. So, I welcome all to come along on the process with us!