Today is my first day off in a week. I’ve been continuing to work in my office job and write for my freelance clients as well as rehearsing for about four hours a day since this time last week. Today I decided to take a day off from the office, leave my writing to one side and enjoy the time to recuperate without a rehearsal to attend this evening.
Surprisingly, while I am tired I’m not exhausted as I thought I would be. The rehearsals are mentally and physically tiring and my brain won’t stop whirring (though if it would run my own lines instead of everyone else’s that would be really helpful!) but I’m feeling strangely energised.
Given the subject matter of the play and the distressing nature of the stories of the characters, it never ceases to amaze me how much we end up laughing in every rehearsal. Last night’s rehearsal in particular, where Jennifer asked us to amplify the emotion in our performance to pantomime levels, was completely physically exhausting but I don’t know the last time I’ve laughed that much. Watching the other characters snapping from melodramatic misery to over-the-top excitement and back in the space of two sentences was hilarious and by the time we finished my sides were aching.
I know that all this has a greater purpose, though. If we were just drilling through the lines and learning where to stand in relation to each other on stage at each point in the script, we wouldn’t have created such well-rounded characters as we already have. Although five of the six of us have previously been involved in a production of this play, I can see how everyone’s characters have developed and changed. Our newest cast member, actress Shekira Johnson, feels like an old friend already and her interpretation of the character is so different to the previous actress who portrayed her, it’s given a whole new dynamic to the way the interactions play out. I’m sure that people returning to see the play for a second time will really notice the difference.
I feel that having a day off today will be a good choice. I could feel myself getting frustrated yesterday with hearing my own voice and that of other characters I’ve played coming through in place of Maria’s. Jennifer assures us that we’re right on track in terms of character development and I agree with her that it’s difficult for us to see how far we’ve come when we’re right in the thick of it. I’m sure that tomorrow we will be able to return with renewed energy and see how far we’ve come in just one week.