Games are not just “fun”

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 22, 2011

Travis Kendrick made his Roxy debut this fall as Arthur Holmwood in DRACULA, also appearing as Passepartout in AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS AND AS FEZZIWIG IN A CHRISTMAS CAROL.  Travis returns to the Roxy stage for ONCE UPON A TIME, as well as this spring’s productions of HAMLET and BEA(U)TIFUL IN THE EXTREME.

We started rehearsals for Bea(u)tiful In The Extreme on Monday.  It’s a relatively new play that hasn’t been done very many places and we are working with the newest version of the script after several rewrites.  I’m super excited to start this process!  And after an iconic literary classic like Hamlet, it is a much newer piece of theatre to work on.  For Hamlet, many of the leads came in memorized, or at least very familiar with their lines.   For this next show, we are all coming into it together from a more equal playing field – coming into the “unknown,” just like the Lewis and Clark expedition in Bea(u)tiful In The Extreme.  Our first day of rehearsal was exciting.  We read through the script in the morning; it was so good to finally hear it out load, with a whole group of actors reading their parts.  No matter how much you read it by yourself, hearing it aloud makes such a difference.  We came back in the afternoon, and first played some games and exercises.  Now, I’m sure some of you that are reading this are thinking, “really?  they played games at rehearsal?  Shouldn’t they be working on the show?”  Well, we were.  These theatrical “games” are specific exercises, each with a very distinct purpose.  They act to unify us as an ensemble, working together.  They create a world for us to inhabit.  They allow us to explore and build relationships in that world.  So, while they are fun at times, and can be silly, they are such useful tools in a rehearsal process.  After some interesting exercises, we worked with the script and starting exploring some of the scenes.  Now, I say we “explored the scenes” and didn’t say “blocked the scenes.”  Blocking the scenes implies they are then pretty set in stone, like blocks.  Exploring the scenes is a way to allow the actors to try things, live in the space, and (with guidance) find where they “fit” in this world.  Of course there is structure, but there is freedom in the structure.  For Hamlet, I would be in a scene, then go off stage and memorize my lines and work on characterization until the next scene I was in.  For Bea(u)tiful In The Extreme, everyone is onstage the whole time.  So, no more memorizing during rehearsal (and no time to run to the restroom during a scene you are not in).  But also with that, is the idea that because we are all onstage the whole time – in the background and coming to the forefront, always present in the action – it will be easier to memorize during this process because we are so interconnected to the world of the play and the characters in it.

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