By Peter ShipleyPeter with sides

It’s a little over a week since our four productions began rehearsing.  We had our first rehearsal, a marathon of a day where many people met for the first time, and now each of the shows are transitioning from initial read-throughs to finding the moments that make the story come alive.  It’s one hell of a process, and one that’s new to me.  I’ve had a good deal of experience at the community and collegiate levels, but this is my first time involved in a professional rehearsal environment.

So what’s different?

First, the actors.  The full festival company of 23 is split between performance interns (a great opportunity for any aspiring actors out there) and local pros, and everyone knows their stuff.  From directing community and college level theater, I can remember asking an actor for something more – and then having to explain exactly what I want, or even demonstrating it.  There’s quite a difference in the relationship between director and actor here at Intiman – the director will give a change and then the actor reaches into their bag and tries something different to see if it fits.  There’s no detailed explanation, no explicit example given.  To put it plainly, the actors have more tricks up their sleeves, more to draw from.  It’s amazing to see how quickly moments can be created when the actors are able (and willing) to change something without detailed direction.

Second, the organization.  It’s a beautiful thing watching the stage management team work.  They are everywhere they need to be and know everything you need them to know.  Even better, you rarely have to ask questions because they’ve already provided the information you need.  The evening before every 10am-7pm rehearsal day the SM team sends out daily schedules that detail each of the four shows rehearsals.  It’s an incredible task that must seem never ending, but things are running so smoothly that you almost forget it’s happening.  That’s a huge difference from theater on the community/college level.  I feel lucky to have worked with some very dedicated SM’s in the past, but nothing can compare to a professional team.

Finally, an overarching difference is the workman like approach everyone brings to rehearsal.  I’ll be honest, this was a little off-putting at first because it seemed people were lacking excitement, but that’s not the case, the excitement is here – it’s just contained behind everyone’s professional attitude.  Also the company is still coming together as a family, so there’s a sense of getting to know each other.  This, however, brings up some interesting questions: how connected will people become?  How important is that in a professional production?  Is excitement even necessary?  How many times do these professional actors find themselves working just for the money?  But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because these questions are the makings of a future blog entry