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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Working with the Blueprints

Kippy Goldfarb, Jen Alison Lewis, and Adrianne Krstansky.
In the first days of rehearsal for Legally Dead, director Steven Bogart remarked on how unusual it was to be able to rehearse in the same space we will perform in, and asked the actors to “forget about the audience that will be there.” Funnily enough, I don’t equate this space with performances, since I’ve spent so many days over the last ten years acting in this back theatre for a reading or a class. The wonderful part about BPT is that the goal is still the same- explore together to create the most powerful, robust play. And funny.  Oh my, is it funny.

Working on a new play is such a pleasure to me. My work as a stage actor only survives in memory, and it’s exciting to be a part of shaping a play that will live on.  The playwright comes in with the draft that they’ve created and then sits back as the cast takes their blueprint and brings it to life. Actors contribute different perspectives as we are each able to focus on one character and bring the playwright questions about what doesn’t make sense, and perhaps improvise a few jokes that make it to the next draft. We’re all surprised at times by what survives contact with the cast to end up in the production script. Our first week of rehearsals featured a new draft every day- my highlighter is out of ink. I believe we are now on the final one, #21.  (Hear me Dan? No more drafts! I need to learn lines!)

With four rehearsals to go before tech, there’s one series of lines we still have yet to deliver without someone cracking up.  (Breathe, don’t look at Chris, just breathe…  Oh no, Kippy’s laughing again, I’ve lost it!) It’s such a joy to come to work with such a playful, positive, supportive cast and crew, and when the script is this good, it’s even more fun. I don’t know when I last laughed so hard. Once we open, I’ll be a tad envious of the audiences that get to let it out- but only a tad.  That can’t beat the pleasure of playing these words, with these people, on this stage.  

-- Jen Alison Lewis

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