256 – 48 Hour Stage Show: Rehearsal

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To catch you up, I’m doing a 48 Hour Stage Show this weekend. Sure yesterday’s casting process was a little disorganized, but none of that prepared me for what was in store for today. The rehearsal process was… something else.

Kun’s overzealousness in his rehearsal plan was met with a little backlash – instead of a 3 hour rehearsal he was only given 2 and a half. I figured a 1:30 call would be plenty of time, but I still ended up being late. “It’s okay,” I thought, “I’ll just miss the warm-up.” Nope. Turns out we spent the whole rehearsal period “warming up.”

Kun’s pitch was very vague in the first place, consisting mostly of collaborative buzz words, which is fine, but to me that meant we would generate ideas together for about an hour (which we did last night) and then he would write a script for us to work on today. Not the case. After hours of warm ups and improv exercises it became clear that there was no script, no premise, and possibly no intention of creating one. The actors revolted of course, demanding a script, but in a very polite (read: passive aggressive) way. By the end of rehearsal we had at least created a scenario. And finally around 11 pm, Kun did send out a script. I haven’t even read it yet – I have a life.

A life that today consisted of more rehearsal. I hadn’t heard from Kenny last night, so I was beginning to wonder if his piece was moving forward as planned. Turns out I needn’t have worried, because this morning the young professional sent me an honest-to-god script. No just exercises or vague platitudes about subtlety – a real stageplay.

Kenny’s rehearsal was a breeze. My co-star was late, but it gave me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the material – Kun’s rehearsal kind of got in the way of that. It’s a good little one-act, and Kenny’s openness to improv will make it better, as long as we don’t improvise too much. Some of the other actors like to lean on meandering unscripted interactions that can be fun, but can also distract from the scene at hand. Kenny encouraged getting a little more familiar with the lines, and though I love improv, I think I agree.

Because the whole point of a play is the script. There’s not a whole lot of room for improv in Death of a Salesman, and there shouldn’t be (not that any of these pieces will be comparable to that one). Can you imagine a high school kid in his dad’s suit trying to improvise as Willy Loman? Ugh, it would be awful. And that lack of script is exactly what some of those improv-happy souls were complaining about when it came to Kun’s project. And complain we did. Turns out the squeaky wheel might get the grease. Jason – the man in charge of this whole endeavor – may cut Kun’s scene. While that would be a relief, I kind of hope it doesn’t happen. A 48 hour theatre production is such a ballsy move that I feel like at least one aspect of it needs to be possibly-awful. And who cares if that’s one of my scenes? It’s not like I’m looking to score an agent off of this whim (though if you know any agents, please invite them).

Just in case, Jason found a way to work me into one of his scenes. I had to wait quite a while for his rehearsal – a bit of a letdown after thinking I was going to be able to leave at 6 pm. I was even more letdown when I found out that Jason didn’t have a full script (or even an ending) either. But he at least provided us with a concept and a jumping off point. We went over a few pages of written material, and then – as a group – we found a satisfying payoff for the scene. It was like the best of both the worlds I had experienced earlier. The structure of Kenny’s piece, with the loose, collaborative spirit of Kun’s practical joke (I’m assuming that’s what it was at this point).

After a relatively short tech tomorrow, the show goes up at 5 pm. It’s at the Ruby Theater in The Complex (Santa Monica and Wilcox), in case any of my loyal readers want to come. I was hesitant to invite people at first, but honestly I think it could be a fun dose of experimental theater. Or wacky performance art. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

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