From Page To Stage: The birth of Artless Charlie – Part 20

4/2/03

Tonight, Royston came to observe our first full run through in Calkins Dance studio.  All in all, Royston and I seemed to share the same sentiments as to how the run went.  We both felt that with the exception of some of the cast members failing to tie together certain moments and/or speeches the run was very successful.  He said that we appeared to be in a very good place with one full week to go.  He gave some specific notes as to how Adam and I might be able to clean up those particular problem spots, and all of them seemed to involve playing through the action in order to get to the point of the scene.  For example, in the first scene, most of Charlie and Madeleine’s dialogue in the first half of the scene consists of sentiments they’ve both expressed a thousand times in the past.  It is not until Charlie mentions that he is wearing his dead father’s sweater that a real moment needs to occur.  Though the transitions haven’t been completely worked out yet, Royston gave me some ideas about overlapping the transition moments in each scene to cut the transition time when it is applicable.

The most important thing that Royston had to say had to do with the script itself. Though he feels that the script is very solid and well written, we agreed that there were some moments in which the action seems to flip back on itself.  That is to say, when a character is moving forward with the action, there are moments in the script that cause them to step out of that forward motion and reiterate moments that have already been made clear to the audience.  Additionally, in Adam’s efforts to hit all the emotional notes in the text, the last scene in particular has some moments where the characters are playing the subtext.  For example, in the last scene, Grace tells Charlie that he hurt her and explains exactly what it is that she felt when he was mistreating her.  This is unnecessary, and Royston suggested that we cut right to the action of the scene in which is Charlie telling Grace that he wants to marry her.  His objective in the surrounding moments is to do anything he can to keep Grace in the apartment, and by cutting to the point, he would seem to do so more effectively.

After rehearsal, Adam and I discussed the possibility of these cuts and we both expressed concern over making too many textual changes this late in the process. I feel that we can successfully make these cuts without upsetting the actors because they are very broad, sweeping changes.  Essentially, we are just cutting one or two page sections, not mixing and matching certain lines and their positions. This should make the cuts more easy to employ.  Adam said he would look over the specifics tonight so we could discuss the changes with our actors at tomorrow’s rehearsal.  The only points where Royston felt these changes needed to be made were in the second act, though Adam and I might look at some moments in the first act, like the section in 1.3 where Charlie and Joe discuss Mrs. Findelberg, Charlie’s childhood piano teacher, as a possible candidate for cutting.  That moment seems to be one moment of reminiscing too many, and cutting it allows Charlie to go right into the action of the scene, which is revealing to Joe that he has been having trouble with his hands.

Most of the notes that I had for this rehearsal concerned some minor specifics about projection, focus, blocking and line flubs. I felt that emotionally, most of the actors were on top of their work and these minor details will be hammered out as we trudge through the final week.

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