Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ToTG Rehearsal #8: Focusing on Dickens

Monday night we started a little late as a few of us huddled in the lobby of Off-Market listening to the Giants win the World Series on the radio.

In rehearsal, we revisited some of the narrator exercises we did last Wednesday as a warm-up and then moved into doing straight Dickens scenes. We didn't worry about another genre. We just tried to get the Dickens right.

This allowed us to not only improve our Dickens chops, but really fine tune some of the narration technique. Mandy keeps saying the narrator in Dickens is there to heckle. They point out the absurdities and the amusing bits. They give us backstory. They tell us how the actions of the characters make them feel but only to a degree. This was one of the subtle points we got into last night. The Dickensian Narrator doesn't give us piercingly deep insights into the character's inner psyche. Remember, this was the world before Freud. A world where it's hard for us to imagine the Victorian sense of the mind. The feelings the Narrator relates are largely observable (but are perhaps missed by the other characters).

The Narrator also doesn't relate actions, unless adding context to them. It's not just "he walked up the stairs." It's "he walked up the stairs, barely able to keep his feet after such a fright."

I also had opportunity to play a 4 year-old boy in one scene. Dickensian children are generally just little adults, because Victorians treated children like little adults. They worked as servants or in factories after all. It was good to practice that.

We ended by practicing scenes from different places in a longer story. A first scene, a scene from the end of the half, and a scene from the end of the show. In between we talked through the rest of the show by having the actors stand in a line and step forward to relate a short sentence describing what happened next. This worked quite well. While we didn't choose a genre, we let it naturally become a supernatural story that became something like a Dickensian version of the Little Mermaid with demons.

No comments: