Our amazing cast has worked so hard for the past week and a half, and I’m happy to announce that as of this evening, the entire show is blocked! What does that mean?
Well, it means that more or less, every person in the show is supposed to know where to go on stage (cross downstage left on this phrase, do a waltz for eight measures on that phrase, draw swords on the second beat of this measure, twirl parasol for one and a half measures on this high note, etc) at all times.
What does that really mean?
Although we may not be able to improvise many moves on stage because of the great choreography, dance numbers, and large number of pointy, drawn, swords in the show (for fear of poking an eye out!), as actors, our job is to make sure that our movements are motivated by choice, by our character, by our music, and our own intensions.
As a singer and actor, it is now my job to look at my music score every night before I go to bed, and make sense of all of the little markings that I’ve added into it this past week of staging rehearsals. Not because I’ve been told to go somewhere at some point in the show, but because my character, Mabel, in her aria, motivates all of the moves, dances, twirls, jumps and turns, as she gushes about her newfound love through song.
Currently, I’m open to a page that shows the following:
Enter SL w.Parasol
Back to F.
XDR to E.R.
R,L,R,L, DC v.2
Which means: Enter from stage left with parasol. Cross Downstage Center on the steps. Cross Center stage to Frederick. Have my back to Frederick. Cross downstage right to Edith and Ruth. Right foot, Left foot, Right foot, Left foot, Downstage center for beginning of verse 2.
Within the guidelines of ‘blocking’, we are able to do a lot of character work. Asking why is always a good place to begin.
Why would I skip to the right here? (I’m so excited and a bit scared about being so close to Frederick!) Why do I address my sisters in this section? (They are looking at me like they don’t believe me!) Why do I look at Frederick and then immediately look away in the beginning of the show? (I just professed my love to a total stranger!) Why at the end, am I able to always be looking for Frederick? (I have realized that he has risked just as much for me as I have for him).
When you see us make a move on stage, whether it is a XDR (cross downstage right), or a twirl of a parasol, a waltz, a two-step or a leap over part of the set, know that everything has been planned and rehearsed to a tee, so that in the performance, every aspect of ‘blocking’ will look like a natural impulse and instinct of the characters interacting with one another on stage!