Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here Upon These Tiles We Will Build Our Barricade

Les Miserable opens in nine days. Yesterday we were warned that rehearsal may be extended since we had yet to block some of the smaller, yet very important scenes. The warning was blatant, but when we were requested to provide our own pillows and sleeping bags we knew they meant business. So we all trudged to the theater before rush hour was officially over and began setting up the scenes.

One important scene is the opening of Act 2 where Enjolras informs his loyal followers that "here upon these stones we will build our barricade!" Dutifully, his loyal subjects run offstage and are supposed to return with a stack of books, or a box, or a marble - anything to add to the barricade. But as we did not have our set props to work with we practiced building our barricade using the only sacrificial objects we had - ourselves! Yes, actors can be so creative at times. At the end of the short scene, however, we remove the boxes and marbles and take them away as if to say, "ya know, let's build it down the street a spell."

Using our one day off on Monday, the set builders successfully raised the stage with the turntable. This uses the same technology as the actual Broadway & tour shows. So after we became weary of piling onto a human pyramid in the rehearsal room, we moved onto the stage to practice some ballroom dancing on the rotating platform. Now I have danced in shows before. I have even waltzed and jitterbugged. But never have I done any movement while the stage rotates. Imagine yourself in a beautiful Viennese ballroom twirling and waltzing around the room in a race with 20 other couples. Then imagine the floor spinning to add double the speed. It's a bit nauseating and I'm sure during at least one performance the audience will enjoy a barf-fest during the wedding scene.

And true to their warning, the director and stage management kept us late, threatening to thwap us with clipboards should we try to escape. So now I write this on my laptop on stage, snuggled in my sleeping bag using Wi-Fi to post to the blogosphere in hopes of hailing help from some local source in Portland. "Help! We're just poor actors being held captive in the theater until we 'get it right'! We need food! Substinance! Please bring donuts!"

Maybe we'll 'get it right' Wednesday and will be allowed to go home to our own beds and loved ones. Pray for us...

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