Academic journal article TheatreForum

Rehearsing Our Town

Academic journal article TheatreForum

Rehearsing Our Town

Article excerpt

Rehearsing Our Town was a daunting challenge. To begin with, we only had two weeks of rehearsal in the rehearsal room, followed by a scant few days of tech before opening. And yet despite that time pressure, the rehearsals were relaxed and playful. We began nearly every day with an intense and joyful physical warm-up, full of dancing and stomping and stretching. We all knew each other before beginning the process, which undoubtedly helped, but there was also great time and care taken by Tom to allow for the creation of the ensemble. Moreover, Tom has a way of working on a scene that is efficient without seeming mechanical. He has an uncanny ability to articulate the situation of a scene clearly to the actors and then to allow them to play that situation precisely without squashing their input or creativity. Tom directs without ego and without wasted effort. No time is squandered talking around a moment. We are simply directed as to the situation and then we play it. Apparently, it allowed us to accomplish what normally might take four weeks in half that time.

Given the concept and the style of the production, a lot of its success probably relied on the energy and intimacy created by the ensemble. We christened the rehearsal room with sweat every day. You put the right group of people in a room with some guitars, a keyboard, and a microphone, and who knows what you can make.

The dramaturgy of Our Town is incredibly freeing for an actor. The style and the meta-theatrical devices lift the burden of realism or the creation of an arc. Because of the Stage Manager's intrusions into the smooth narrative and the artificial beginnings and ends of scenes and acts, an actor doesn't have to think through the play as a smooth arc. …

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