Friday, May 23, 2008

Festival Recap - Part 2

Blocking rehearsals

The high school casts returned to Playwrights Theatre on Sunday to begin staging the plays. The main focus was to get the plays up on their feet and to go through any revisions the playwrights might have done overnight. Each play had roughly 2.5 hours of rehearsal time with a lunch break in between. (Lunch was donated by Java Lou’s just up the road in Chatham. Thanks, Lou!) This proved to be ample time to block out each scene and do one or two run-thrus.

Just like hearing the play for the first time can lead to changes, so can seeing it performed. Kate Douglas, the author of Treading Water, and Julie Earls, the author of The Moodring Monologues, were on hand and made some changes and tweaks to the scripts, as needed. It was exciting to observe rehearsals and the collaboration that took place. There is often a misconception that rehearsals are dictatorial settings; that the director simply tells an actor where to go and how to say each line. While that may be true of some directors, it can work against the artistic nature of the process. Jim Ligon and Dania Ramos, the directors of the two high school performance groups, established an open rehearsal environment that encouraged discussion about the play. Actors and playwrights freely offered suggestions and ideas to strengthen the play and to emphasize specific moments, emotions, etc. This is the most important part of the Festival process.

On Monday, the groups will move to the performance space – the Little Theatre inside the University Center at Kean University. The day will begin with the Junior HS/Elementary reading at 10:00 am. Immediately following that, we will begin tech rehearsals for the high school groups. They will also have the opportunity to work out more blocking and to work through any additional rewrites that may be necessary.

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