My assignment was to write on the rehearsal process. Three weeks ago, rehearsals ended and we opened the show.
But that doesn’t mean the production has stopped evolving. Circumstance comes into play--perhaps even more so than in rehearsal--during the performance. A charcoal stick that’s rolled just out of reach offers the opportunity to actually let Thomasina become truly exasperated with the day’s lesson. A glance that, for whatever reason, is held a little longer makes a realization of the end of an education that much more poignant. An audience member viscerally and audibly reacts to the challenge to a duel heightening the seriousness of the otherwise quite comic scene.
And when Thomasina stumbles a little more in the final waltz than even the actor herself is accustomed to, she finds that Septimus is there to steady her.
There is a joy in realizing that this cast in particular truly embodies that spirit - we steady each other, make each other laugh, attempt to teach each other to play cribbage (long story), warm up together, walk to our cars together. Maybe it sounds a little too Brady Bunch, but there is a sense of play, and a sense of family that perhaps is the truest treasure of this production--especially since I think it really shows in the performance. Even on the nights when one or another of us feels that we’ve had a bumpy performance, I don’t think there’s been a moment when any of us hasn’t wanted to be there. How can it feel like work when you get to spend a few hours with people about whom you care so much?
As we close Arcadia tonight, that joy is mingled with an impending sense of loss. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with myself next Thursday night when I don’t need to drive down to the theater, get my hot rollers plugged in, and play with this wonderful group of people who now seem more like family than anything else.
It is a testament to this cast that this sense of family even exists. We spent most of the rehearsal period segregated from one time period’s cast or the other. Maybe it’s just that this is a really incredible group of individuals. Maybe it’s the magic of this play--that “everything is mixing together, irreversibly...”
I’m inclined to think that it’s both. That thought is the only thing keeping me from being an absolute mess right now. Even though everything must tend toward chaos--in 12 hours, it may be that this group is never fully assembled ever again--but that there is at least one bond that can’t be broken, and it’s built on the six weeks we’ve spent together.
Perhaps I am showing an extreme lack of professionalism by confessing all of this, but it’s all true--and I’ve always been accused of being a terrible liar. I hope that you’ll join us tonight or tomorrow before “the heat goes into the mix,” irretrievable and irreversible. The audience is often said to be the last member of the cast in any production, but here I hope you’ll find that you’re actually the last member of a talented, hilarious, giving, wonderful family. I know I have.
With love and gratitude,