On Tuesday, the actors got to be in the theatre for the first time. On the one hand, it's great because the actors finally get a sense of what the real set feels like, and there are all kinds of props and set pieces that they can actually handle instead of just miming like they did in the rehearsal hall. And there's just the magic of moving into the space you'll be performing in that gives every actor a bit of a thrill, no matter how many shows you've done.
On the other hand, even if you've worked in FlynnSpace before (and most of these actors haven't), it's a disorienting experience. For instance, your voice carries very differently than in the rehearsal room. It takes a surprising amount of vocal energy, because even though the audience is very close, often your back is to one section of the audience, so you have to project a bit more to make sure your heard. Also, the spacing of the playing area is a bit different than in the rehearsal room, and there's the first row of seats that are practically on the stage (which always comes as a bit of a shock), and there are all those new props and set pieces that you now have to learn how to use.
The result of all this is that all of the wonderful acting work you've been doing in rehearsal seems to completely disappear. You feel like a complete klutz and you're so distracted by all the new information you have to process that the idea of communicating with the other actors or being at all emotionally connected with what you're saying and doing seems to go right out the window.
Fortunately, Jim is aware of this, so he makes sure the first rehearsal in the theatre is a very low-key one. He spends the time reviewing all the blocking with the actors, stopping and starting as much as is needed, and lets them know that he's not expecting any kind of performance from them. By the end of that first evening of rehearsal, the actors are starting to feel a little more comfortable, and some of the acting is starting to come back.
Then they come in the next day and more new elements are introduced - a few more set pieces and props, and now the stage lights are starting to be used. Another set of adjustments. You wouldn't think that just having different lights on you would throw your concentration, but believe me, it does. Actors are trained to be extremely sensitive to their environment, and so when it's changing all the time, even in subtle ways, it can have a huge effect on your performance.
On the next day, Thursday, some of the sound cues start to be added. Another distraction. And now, there's less than a week to go until opening and the stress level starts to rise. The actors feel like they haven't been able to really connect with the script or with each other for a few days now. It just doesn't feel like acting anymore; more like going through the motions and reciting the lines.
Jim isn't able to do much in the way of detailed direction, either. There's so much new information for the actors to take in that he doesn't want to overload them, but at the same time, there's a lot of work to be done to get the performances where they need to be, and time is definitely running out for him, since most of Friday and all of Saturday are going to be devoted almost completely to technical matters such as setting the light and sound cues, and the biggest technical challenge of this show, the costumes, including the myriad quick changes most of the actors have over the course of the show.
How to get it all done in the next four days?