Well, we had our first full week of rehearsing Monday-Thursday of this week and I think it went very well. Monday and Tuesday were spent on blocking and as I always say – that is my least favorite part of directing a show. But it is a necessary part. Blocking, the plan of movement for the actors, can be very useful. It can help reflect the attitudes the characters are feeling at a certain moment in the play – for example, if one character is disgusted with another, they might move away from them – leaving them behind, getting past them, losing contact. When a character has power over another he may be set standing behind a seated subordinate. Blocking also seems to help many actors as the first step toward memorization of their lines. I feel this way when I am cast. Knowing where you are going seems to help one visualize the situation you are speaking in. It may be some kind of need to move as we speak…

Anyway, the first two rehearsals of the week had been marked on the calendar as blocking – and the third day had been marked as review blocking, but I just couldn’t keep from starting the serious work of breaking down the action with the actors any longer so Wednesday we worked on Act 1, which is the longest act and Thursday we worked through some ideas about acts 2 & 3, which are shorter and which I plan on grouping together after the show’s single intermission.

Act 2 in Life x 3 is very dense, thick with words and it was not until Thursday morning when I was lying in bed and trying to unscramble just what was happening in that second act that I hit on an idea that seemed to have some promise.

You have to remember that this play is the same basic scenario – Hubert and Inez drop in on Henry and Sonia one day early for a dinner party – played out 3 different ways. In each act, the characters have different immediate pasts, different personality traits, different attitudes about what is happening that evening and they also have different reactions to a 6 year old boy whom we hear but never see. Naturally, unavoidably, a variety of things occur and there is a different outcome for each act.

I felt I knew what happened in the first act – it is written in such a form that it could indeed be a one act play and would be very enjoyable. But it was less obvious what the playwright, Yasmina Reza, was telling us in the subsequent 2 acts. Then with one simple notion, I was able to do a road map of the second act and to really get close to thinking it might work. With this hopeful plan in hand, I took a stab at the third act with an even more radical viewpoint and that seemed to have promise as well. I really did not know if it would until I presented the ideas to the cast and watched them go through the acts with these attitudes I had discovered for them. And it all seemed to fall together. The actors worked through some difficulties as they had not been thinking of their characters as the ones I came up with, but I think they bought into the notions I brought them and I believe with a few more tweaks we will have a play that makes total sense and has 3 story arcs we can vouch for.

I put it that way because this play is often misunderstood and under-appreciated because it could very well come off as one act of inspired comedy/drama and 2 acts of head-scratching confusion. But I really believe we have gotten past this, and I am very glad we have a road map for our use at such an early stage in our preparations.

We’ll continue in this vein next Mon-Thurs and I hope our understanding of this work will get clearer and clearer.

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