From Page To Stage: The birth of Artless Charlie – Part 12

3/19/03

Royston came to rehearsal tonight and offered some great advice after viewing all but the last scene. The most prominent of his suggestions was to make clear the objectives of each character in a few of the scenes, especially the first. It wasn’t clear to him in all instances what Charlie was doing in the attic and why exactly his mother was saying the things that she was to him at those moments.  This is something that I’ve tried to work with Evelyn on, but obviously I need to keep doing that.  He also suggested that we try playing the positives instead of the negatives.  That is to say, instead of giving an actor the objective of “I don’t want to leave”, tell them to use “I want to stay” instead.  I thought about this and agreed that it was a good solution.  It seems that by playing the negative, you exhaust the whole of your objective much more quickly than you do with the positive.  There are more ways for a person to indicate they want to stay than there are to indicate they don’t want to leave.

Royston asked me about my staging ideas, and I tried to explain to him why I had placed the attic around the centered apartment when most of the action happens in attic anyway. I feel that this concept visually supports my idea that Charlie is skirting/dancing around the issues that lie in the apartment for most of the play.  These, of course, are his problems with Grace, and his inability to play the piano any longer.  Additionally, it serves the staging of the play’s climax very well, allowing Charlie’s “visions” to literally appear around him in the space.  It’s funny, I don’t think that I had ever realized to myself exactly why I decided to stage the play in that way, but his asking me finally made me realize why.  Somehow I just felt like that was the way to do it, and now I know why.

Although I felt that things weren’t going so well tonight, Royston said that he felt we were in a very good place considering how much time we had left. He said that he could clearly see the work I had done with the actors and it was coming across in their performances.  He provided some much-needed guidance and encouragement to both Adam and I, and commented on how well he thought we worked together.  He liked the fact that we interacted as freely and frequently as we did during rehearsals and that such interaction would ensure a healthy rehearsal process.  Additionally, he mentioned that he liked seeing me “get my hands dirty” on stage with the actors, employing some techniques that I have no doubt picked up from him, such as creating a more intimate rehearsal environment and moving through the space with the actors as they play a scene.

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