Friday, January 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes: The Secret in the Wings

A rehearsal for The Secret in the Wings by Mary Zimmerman begins with the cast gathering on the risers in the studio theatre. Scripts in hand, the students are ready to begin blocking -- the arrangement of actors onstage and how they move. Director Jeff Grace gives them the rundown for how rehearsal will run for the night. This time they are tackling the blocking of the longest scene in the play, a scene that retells the fairy tale "The Six Swans."

The Secret in the Wings is all about precision. The sons bring forward equally spaced chairs, flap their wings -- careful not to bring their wrists above their shoulders -- then sit crossing their legs with stacked knees. Sometimes actors have to execute their blocking in perfect synchronicity with other cast members. Often there are music cues that dictate exactly how long a movement or action or line can take. For many of the cast members precision blocking is not something they have encountered before, and it provides a new challenge. A big part of Rep Term is overcoming obstacles and the unexpected. What is the biggest challenge for Jeff Grace? He wants more rehearsal time.

While most main stage shows rehearse five days a week the Rep Term shows have just three a week. We must confront off-script dates quicker than we ever realized. As we chug through week three the shows are beginning to come together. Week four will see the rest of the shows blocked, and then it’s on to run throughs.

Moriah Chermak
Neverwhere... Anesthesia, Ensemble Member

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