From Page To Stage: The birth of Artless Charlie – Part 17

3/27/03

Tonight we rehearsed in the Spiegel Theater and did our best to stumble through Act I.  The cast is pretty much off book and will not be able to call line as of this coming Wednesday.  One of the main points that I stressed tonight regards the pulling together of moments.  Most of the cast, and Dan in particular, are having trouble stringing things together.  I mentioned that we want to try and experience the drama of each moment within the text, not in the long, dramatic pauses before and after nearly every line.  This not only makes for a very long and slow show, but it deflates the gravity we are trying to instill in the moments that do require some pauses.  Dan has a tendency to do this a lot and it goes hand in hand with his tendency to force a stutter.  This is how he tends to show a character’s thought process.  I really want him to try and move away from these crutches and make himself a little more open and vulnerable on stage.  We have worked on this before, but he is really having trouble moving away from it.  I hope that once he is completely off book he can focus a bit more on these points.

Our propmaster, Sarah U., has provided us with only a few of our props and we started using them tonight.  I did this to get the cast to start thinking about the logistics involved in moving these props around, particularly in the attic, but also to start finding the connections that exist between some of these characters and the props the handle. Charlie and Madeleine in particular have props that are very important to their characters and I want to get them thinking about that now.  This addition seemed to activate Evelyn especially.  Her character has a strong connection to the various items in this attic for some very specific reasons, and I’d like Evelyn to find that and use it.  In doing so, I discovered an interesting way to establish the space in the first two scenes.  Since the attic is going to have chairs and other items covered in white sheets, I thought that one of the sheets could double as the tablecloth in the restaurant scene. T he restaurant table doubles as part of the attic for most of the play, as does the DL chair at that table.  So, if we cover that chair with a white sheet in the first scene, Chris or Kirsten can than cover the table with it during the transition into 1.2. T his will help illustrate to the audience that these are, in fact 2 separate spaces, while creating a nice moment of connection between the two scenes.

We made some tonal changes to scene 1.6 tonight.  Adam and I discussed how we felt that Charlie was getting a little too angry with his mother in this scene and that deflated their other confrontation in Act II.  I spoke with Dan about playing less “teen angst” and more of a defeatist, self-loathing attitude.  This is tricky because we must keep that sense of depression separate from what exists in the second act.  One way to do this will be to energize it.  I told Dan to play the scene less as though he is attacking his mother, and closer to an idea of being frustrated by the fact that he can’t even explain how useless he has become.  This change seemed to make a difference.  Without it, I felt like there was nowhere to go emotionally once Charlie has blown up at Madeleine.  Now, there is a sense that something is building inside of him and the focus shifts to that rising tension.

I am still concerned about the overall length of the play.  Though we have made a lot of cuts throughout the process, I still felt like it was running a little long.  This, in turn, will dictate whether or not we will have an intermission.  I would like to avoid an intermission, but I don’t want to tire the audience out.  If we can’t tighten things up, it looks like an intermission might be necessary.  The best way that I feel we can combat the dragging length of the show will be to really work hard on tying moments and thoughts together.  This will be something that I will continue to reiterate to the cast. Thankfully, we are in good enough shape as far as the rest of the show goes to focus our energy on it.

The only part of the show that we haven’t addressed is the overture and entr’acte.

I am still waiting on Donna to come through with the music so that we can put those two moments together.  Donna has promised me that the music will be ready for Tuesday’s rehearsal.

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