We warmed up a little with word-at-a-time and then sentence-at-a-time stories, which led us nicely into practicing the opening narration. Fear in its first three incarnations didn't involve narration, but I added it in after Mandy used it so wonderfully in A Tale of Two Genres. Whereas for that show it added a literary quality, for this one it allows us to build atmosphere in exciting ways. To set the convention of narration, and to immediately set the mood, we open the show with narration. Everyone in the cast contributes a brief sentence painting the setting, and then the last person sets up the first scene. At any point then, anyone can break the fourth wall to narrate. If a someone wants to narrate from off stage, they can come on and do it as long as they narrate their character into the scene in the process. Those "rules" exist just to maintain a certain seamlessness to hold the reality together. With this show more than any other, a consistent reality is essential.
The first thing we remembered was that the opening narration needs to paint a light, happy picture of the world we're about to inhabit. If you start dark, there's no where to go. Starting happy allows for contrast. It's hard to do though, especially as the scenes begin. The first few scenes should also be fairly light, trouble-free, and about exploring and establishing the relationships. This gives you a nice platform to terrorize later, but we usually get so excited that we start throwing in ominous undertones right away. That's not all bad. Some good foreshadowing and fake-outs are useful.
Then we did a round of killing and dying. Everyone took turns. Everyone killed once and died once. Then we also worked how to safely get bodies off-stage. (You can't just spring to your feet and walk off on your own power. It spoils the illusion or "breaks the reality".) This is the most intense aspect of the show for the audience and performers alike. It's grueling to watch over and over again, and draining to participate in. Still, it's necessary.
We took a break after that and returned to light and happy openings. We did several and continued into 2 or 3 scenes of the story. We have to remember not to lose the narration as the story progresses. It's useful for setting the mood as well as for getting us in and out of the intermission without breaking the reality too much. Otherwise, I think we're in great shape for the show. It'll be just like old times...
Fear will be August 10 at 8pm.