Ever wonder what happens during the rehearsal process of a play? The theatre holds auditions, the director selects the cast, contracts are signed but then how do the words on the page come to life? At CRT, it is the collaboration of so many individuals bringing their talent to the team. From the interns who build the sets and work the backstage crew, to the designers whose imagination bring audience to the world of the play. And then of course the director who leads the actors on the magical journey.
Audience members often ask actors “How did you memorize all of those lines?” Which is a valid question but as most actors will tell you memorization is just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the work done during the rehearsal process can’t happen UNTIL the actors have memorized. Imagine trying to play a game of baseball with the rule book in your hand? Not easy right? You may find yourself dropping the ball. Which is how it is for actors, most of what they find in rehearsal (which ultimately ends up in the performance) is discovered through play and testing out ideas. An actor who doesn’t know their lines will “drop the ball” when the ensemble is trying to play and explore. So most actors memorize lines ASAP so that rehearsals become a time for exploration with the ensemble.
Directors have the challenge of leading actors to answers but not giving them to them. Just like the great teachers, they can’t just tell you the answers, they must lead you to discover them on your own. Directors help actors discover the truths about their characters which in most cases translates to a moving performance. Directors also can see the big picture. Actors can’t see themselves onstage. They can’t see the whole picture, the director creates stage pictures with sets, lighting and the positioning of actors in the performance space.
When all of these elements come together you have a production to remember. Here’s a photo of Director David Smith-English from “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” with his two leading men Dennis Kelly as Watson and John San Nicolas as Sherlock.