It’s the craziest way to rehearse a play I’ve ever experienced. Just follow these seven simple steps.
Step One. Agree to direct a play for the Prairie Players to take to the ACT Festival being hosted in Dauphin May 1-3. Hold auditions in January for a half-hour performance not happening for four months. To keep things challenging, cast someone who is currently in South America but will be home in March.
Step Two. Assemble the remaining cast in early February to read through the script and discuss blocking, props, and costumes. Don’t meet again for a month.
Step Three. With the globetrotting actor home from South America, rehearse like crazy through the month of March. Sleep little as you dream up new ideas to improve the play. By the end of that period, the play is basically ready to present and you’re eager to go. But alas! The performance is still a month away and besides, your globetrotter is taking off to Japan for three weeks. Worry about whether peaking too early is actually a thing.
Step Four. Meet without the globetrotter a couple of times during April, lest everyone forgets everything. Allow your title-role actor to get sick and one of your multi-role actors to go away for a week. That way, you’re always short at least two people.
Step Five. When the globetrotter returns four days before your performance, pray to God everybody remembers everything for a dress rehearsal with your tech person.
Step Six. Hold a full dress rehearsal before a live audience. If necessary, rehearse some more after said audience exits the premises.
Step Seven. Pack up and take the show to ACT Fest where your audience will be comprised of fellow thespians from around the province and where you’ll receive adjudication and a workshop with a theatre professional. Then sit back and enjoy the rest of the festival.
Meanwhile, enjoy tons of fun. Get to know each other. Tease. Laugh. Gather them in your home for line drills and jelly beans. Threaten Laurel Giesbrecht with a dollar fine every time she says “sorry” for stumbling on a line. Coax Rosa Rawlings to sing like a soulful black woman. Mock Chris Kitchen mercilessly. Give Vicki Hooke an extra role only to take it away again, using the excuse that it “doesn’t serve the story.” Relentlessly work Stephanie Kauffman, your stage manager, like a horse. Expect Terry Tully, your globetrotting actor, to play his multiple roles like a pro in spite of his absences. Show no mercy. Brag about them to everyone.
If the system works, patent it. Or at least recommend it to others. If not? Live and learn.
You can judge for yourself whether this system works by attending the aforementioned dress rehearsal of Sleeping with a One-Armed Man at the William Glesby Centre on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:30 pm. The premise of the story? When Jim loses his right arm in a farm accident, he and Tracy need to figure out how to navigate parenting, marriage, and love in a whole new way. Based on the true story of someone I know and love. Admission is free. Donations will be received for Manitoba Farmers withDisabilities. We’d love to see you there!