Finally, back in the rehearsal room! And what a rehearsal room it is. I must say, I’m thrilled to be around for the process of Stop Kiss with No Rules. While my official title in the process is the dreaded, “Assistant TO THE Director,” I’m really taking advantage again of my personal title of “Theatre Collaborator” and reminding myself that I am in that room to get done whatever needs to be done. The title is irrelevant, what matters is what I can contribute to the process. We’ve had our first read through and the director, Holly Twyford, really has assembled an amazing group to work on this show. Did I mention she went to BU too? Every single one of the actors is so different in their style and yet each one brings a needed piece to the table. Of course, now it’s Holly’s job to shape them and bring them in to the same world, but if the last rehearsal and the read are any indication, it’s going to be a blast.
While this is Holly’s directorial debut, she reminded me of any good director I’ve worked with, as she climbed on top of the tables we had set up to begin explaining the set model to everyone gathered. Her ability to just dive right into a process, head first, is admirable and great to watch!
Oh right, this is supposed to be about what I’m learning!
It’s actually been a really interesting process being in the room and wanting specifically to observe how another director works. I’ve read it time and time again, but it really is true, that directors are really some of the few people who don’t get the opportunity to watch their peers in process. The final product can be seen, but what it took to get there is where the learning happens, and most directors don’t get to see their peers do their work.
As I try to watch and understand Holly’s methods I always go back and question how I would try and accomplish what she is accomplishing in order to get a better understanding of what my methods are. One thing I’m finding is how based in the physical and “do-ing” I am. The main acting “method” (I hate that word) that I’m learning is a form of physical acting devised by Jerzy Grotowski. I prefer to work in the physical because I’m an incredibly intellectual person, and the more I let my body do the work, the farther I am able to push myself. In that way, it’s begun to infect my directing as well, and I try and think very physical actions and motions in order to coach actors.
I also go back often to the teachings of Kristen Linklater, listening closely for when actors take themselves off voice or what parts of their body begin to tense up and hold back their voices as they work.
Of course discovering what direction to give and how to give it is based more on each actor and what pushes them the best ways possible for each show they work on, and that’s just part of the learning process when starting a new show. I think one of the most challenging processes I’ll face when I begin directing outside of BU, is discovering how to work with people who have trained in a method I’ve never worked with, and speak a different vocabulary then I do. Yet I also think this will be one of the most interesting parts of my directing experience, because it will be the most educational one as well.
I really am excited to get even deeper into this process, and while I’ll be gone right before previews, I’ll be glad to see it almost fully through!