We are just halfway through our rehearsals – lots has been accomplished, lots more to be done. I gave the cast the night off – a rare Wednesday respite due to some conflicts in schedule. We will be meeting tomorrow and Friday instead. And tomorrow we start doing the rehearsals without books in hand. So that will take some getting used to.

But last night we worked on the entire play, all three acts, for the first time. Act 1 was slow and rusty – we had not done it in a while. Acts 2 & 3 were in pretty good shape for this stage in the process. After we were finished, the cast was a little tired – I could tell they happily thought they might be done for the night. But I asked them to do the first act again, explaining that it was not on a par with the others and although I got mild resistance (which resulted in my reducing the act to the 4th scene only, the scene that all four of the actors are in) they agreed. I brought up the point that it was sluggish the first time through – that I wanted some tempo. One replied that tempo was not something to worry about at this point, with books in hand and I agreed. But, I said, they could stop languishing in their lines.

I have found from doing this directing thing for a while that actors tend to want to languish in their characters’ words in rehearsal. They want them to be understood and to have a presence of some sort. That’s not to say that some lines do not indeed need to be given such treatment. But generally, we do not talk that way and most of this practice is the actor getting used to the words and the inflections that might be used to give them meaning. It happens just about every show I either direct or have a role in. The problem is that all this brings the show to a dreary tempo that would put most audiences to sleep.

So I asked my cast to be conscious of this and wow! The attack on languishment made the first act rock. It was funnier; it had some new meanings and impacts; it was a big step toward what we will be presenting in 4 weeks. I loved it! They did too. I am so glad I asked them to redo the act – it really paid off for them and for me.