Today was our one and only real day of rehearsals for our actors. On a low-budget indie like this one, we are lucky to have any time at all. Needless to say, today was a real luxury and pleasure. Nestled in an empty, comfortable space in midtown Manhattan, the day started early with myself and one of our main actors. We jumped right in with some preliminary discussion about the character and some of the action. After the intro, we got straight to work on a few scenes that only required the two of us. It was great to finally connect as actors. (Did I mention I'm acting in this?)
Up next, a second actress joined the rehearsal and began delving into the scenes where both of the actors featured. What a thrill to watch/hear some of this stuff come to life! The screenplay has only a few scenes where we have more than two actors on-screen at any time, so today was almost exclusively spent working on duets. With many of the actors, it was the first time I've seen them in these roles as some of them hadn't auditioned, but were offered parts directly. I'd made my casting decisions based on my impressions and familiarity with their work, so I wasn't terribly worried. No one disappointed. In fact, everyone brought so much to the table that I had a plethora of stuff to work with and shape where needed. It is a true delight to work with actors who can bring substance to a role, while being open and flexible to try different things in any given scene. These professional qualities give me a strong sense of confidence that I can work the way I want to on-set and keep the pace needed to see this thing through.
The rest of the day was a revolving door of cast members. There were friendly introductions and healthy discourse on the script. We did not work on any blocking (actors movement within a scene), but simply sat at the table with scripts. For me, rehearsal is about specifying the moments, the beats, the relationships, and overall pacing in a scene. Once everyone is on the same page, blocking becomes very organic for actors. Or rather, blocking becomes more apparent to me and I can direct the actors appropriately. Table work is also a terrific way to let the cast hang out, chat, and relate.
I took a few writing notes here and there, but for the most part everything played out how I had intended. In many cases there were actually some terrific surprises. Reacting to those surprises, I would give adjustments and watch as the actors took the scenes to a whole new level. Exciting stuff. All in all, today gave me a fresh look at many of these characters and scenes. The character relationships are only as vivid as the chemistry between the actors, and I truly felt that I was working with an exceptional ensemble.
Tomorrow is our company read-through of the script from start to finish. Can't wait!