We have finished blocking the show so tonight we start on my favorite part of directing a play – that is, the deep digging discussions about storyline, characters, interactions and what the playwright was trying to say. I know there are lots of directors who do not do the intensive study of the scenes as I do, but I feel that that is how we get to the heart of the script, that that is an essential part of our preparations and that actors really do enjoy the deep digging and idea exchange that we have. It also serves to open up the lines of communication between the actors and myself, because I try to make it clear that their ideas are valid and important, too. It is my job to have the final say, but they are or will become closer to their characters than I can be, so I need to have the actors’ insight to help me shape the whole picture.

Specifically – tonight we will be working on the only 2 man scene (most scenes are between a man and a woman) called They Fell. In it two long time buddies – young guys who are real “men” – discover that they love each other. This is manifested in a unique way (this author, John Cariani has made an extensive use of metaphor, continuously making it a real part of the lives of his characters) as they start falling in each other’s presence, not able to stop. A lot of questions come to mind regarding this scene. What’s causing all this falling? Obviously love, but these guys have known each other a long time – so why tonight, why now? What kind of love do they feel – romantic, physical, platonic? What should we call their relationship? Homosexual? Platonic? Endeared? Do we need a new word for it? Why did the playwright use two males to metaphorize the phrase “falling in love”? Obviously all these questions and their off-shoots will lead to a lively discussion, I hope. Answers will become the reasons for the  choices in the actors’ portrayals. I really love this movement of the mind.

The second scene we will cover tonight – my plan calls for two scenes a night for 9 rehearsals – is one called Her Heart. In this scene a man discovers a woman camped out in his yard. She has come to see the northern lights because it is her belief that her newly departed husband, who broke her heart not long before he died, will be in the aurora as a torch bearer making his way to the hereafter. The man whose yard she is in falls in love with her (without the falling down) and we learn that this is a problem for her because her romantic heart had to be replaced after being broken and she carries it around in a bag (metaphor as reality).

The scene, which is the first in the play, carries the burden of having a lot of expositional information in it – where we are, why is it called “Almost” Maine, why are the Mainers is the play not accented as we are often exposed to in media (they live inland, not on the ocean) and what are the northern lights?

Beyond that, we have a storyline that is heart-rending because the man happens to be a repairman and the woman has a broken part. The biggest question I have to ask is why does the man fall for the woman so easily? I know- it is in the script, so it happened. But, what does the woman do to ignite the flame – or what is in the man’s backstory that caused this to happen? I believe everything happens for a reason and the actors have to know the answers so that what they do will make sense to them and hopefully to the audience.

Other questions occur as well – such as where did Glory, the woman, get the idea about the northern lights being torch carriers on their way to the hereafter. She seems pretty certain about this and we are not in a position to deny her idea, but from where did it come?

The broken heart metaphor is easier to explain, in that it is dealt with so directly by East, the man, because he knows he can fix it – just as many of us have had their broken hearts repaired by a subsequent relationship.

Indeed, delving into all these features of the script makes me eager to get started tonight!