6 o'clock rolled around and my cast showed up. We have a new guy, also a fresher, doing tech, and he's lovely, and does what he's told, but he's very slow. I was expecting to do a quick line run while he was setting up, then either do a run or a cue to cue with the lighting, but neither of these things happened. In the end we did a speed line run, which wasn't speedy at all, whilst sitting around in our freezing performance space. If i had known it would be so slow i would have just done a run and worked around his setting up the lights. It felt like a wasted evening. Everyone was in high spirits though. Before we started the line run all the boys stood around the piano, improvising a musical version of the play. I might just put that on instead, it was great.
Fast forward to today. I let myself have a bit of a lie-in, much needed, and then headed in to town to pick up safety pins and thread to fix up some issues with the costumes, then back to the costume warehouse again to pick up a dress that was being adjusted, then on to campus to set up the room, go to a dissertation tutorial, and make sure everything was in order so that the dress could run as smoothly as possible. My producer, Sarah, has had a family emergency so she's not around, but being in the space by myself, free to faff about with seating, curtains and props calms me down, so it wasn't too bad. At 5 the cast started to show up and get in to costume. Anisa, the girl who's in charge of my props and costume, was there to sew up rips and replace buttons and generally take care of the cast while i made sure that the dress could actually run as a performance. Emily, who plays Betty Parris, taught everyone a psalm to sing during act 1, which sounds amazing. Then we got to the actual dress rehearsal.
For every run that we've done for the past 2 weeks I've been telling the cast to do it as a performance. This means that they don't ask for prompts, or ask to go back a few lines and do a part again, or break character at any point, or mess about during the breaks between acts. We have yet to do a run where this actually happens, and tonight was no different. The actual run wasn't even bad, it was just utterly lifeless. With very few exceptions, they all seem to be reciting their lines rather than feeling them. There were parts where whole pages of dialogue went missing, people asked to re-start scenes, staging we established weeks ago suddenly changed for no reason. All in all, it was an awful run.
I gave them notes afterward, told them what went well and what was bad, told them that i know it's the last week of term, and that they all have essays and exams and are exhausted, but that none of that is an excuse. I want this play to be good. I know that they are great actors and great people, and i want them to be proud and excited to be on stage in a play that they feel is good, but the only way that can happen is if they all put in all the energy that they have, every night.
They say that a bad dress rehearsal makes for a good first night, so by extension maybe this hellish rehearsal process will make for the best show ever. Somehow i doubt it, but right now all i can do is hope. Hope, and sleep.