We’re nearly a month into Safe Haven rehearsals now, and I’ve been astounded by some of the things occurring among our cast. This play is coming to life in ways I’ve never experienced in any other production. It’s frightening, actually.

 What does it mean for an actor to take on a character? Is that something that happens during rehearsals and performances only, or does it bleed over and become another aspect of that actor’s real-life character? I’ve seen a sudden sensitivity for the homeless among our cast as we’re identifying with them through this play. I’ve also heard actors say things outside of rehearsal that were obviously their characters speaking, not them. I don’t mean actual lines from the play – just regular conversation that suddenly seems like I’m speaking to this character I wrote rather than this person I’ve known for years.

It’s no secret that we take on many different roles during the course of living – we’re one person to our parents, another to our children, someone else to our spouses and different with our co-workers. So what does that mean for an actor who routinely adds new roles to his own character? Is he better rounded, or just more crazy? What happens when you’re playing a villain – how do you keep that from becoming an aspect of your personality?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me as I watch this script come to life. I feel kind of like Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer’s apprentice – I got the brooms started, but now I can’t control them. I guess that’s what makes for good drama. The rehearsal process should be a time when the play takes on a life of its own, when it shows you what it’s about so you can draw out those aspects of the script you never noticed until they jumped out and demanded to be seen.

But I’ll tell you – when it happens well, it’s scary. 

I know I haven’t written here much lately, and I can’t promise to do better for the near future. My brain’s a little overwhelmed right now. I had expected to use this blog to chronicle the rehearsal process, but instead I find it’s a process that can’t be chronicled. I thought I could write it as a journal – here’s what happened in rehearsal tonight – as something that might be of interest to other directors. But there aren’t words for that moment when just the right gesture brings a character to life, and half the cast bursts into hysterical laughter – to keep from screaming, because it was just that scary. In a good way. I think.

One thing I do know. Scary or not, I love doing this.

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