Here is my script throughout the rehearsal process:
Each tab denotes a question about a line, phrase, section. Over the last 3 weeks of rehearsal, I have removed and added tabs daily. Lee would bring in new pages (or scenes!) and we would start working them in, adding new tabs. And removing others. We have swapped sections and cut for rhythm and energy. All the while making sure that we’re tracking the story, and relaying the facts in a way that is clear for the audience.
In last night’s rehearsal, we ‘locked’ the script. (mostly*) We went through and handled any final text-specific questions with the actors. Lee made some brilliant last-minute adjustments, and this is my script today:
Tab free. And the actors can rest assured that they can now finish up their line learning process without any more tectonic shifts.
*unless we have to shift something as we get into tech. but probably not. right?
Week 2 is complete!!! Tonight starts our third week of rehearsals.
So far, we have staged the entire play, and worked through each scene at least once. We have discussed character relationships, gone over a tremendous amount of research and our stalwart playwright has done a herculean load of rewrites. We focus a lot on the characters voices, to make sure those are clear, but we are also working to ensure that the information about the Troy Davis case is as balanced and clear as possible.
I should probably mention that Troy Davis and Officer Mark McPhail are not characters in the play. They are of course there… in every moment, every breath…but they are not actual characters. Our story is told through fictional characters, interspersed with actual witness testimony, recantation, press coverage and other documentary sections. And each act brings forward a particular point of view.
How’d we get here? Lee read and sifted through thousands (literally) of pages of transcript, habeas corpus petitions, recantations, affidavits, blogs, websites, press commentary…and through all of this research, two compelling arguments emerged and have crystallized in our script.
Tonight we have what are close to our last changes … we think… and then we’ll keep digging in deep with the actors. And then we’ll be there. So here we go. Week #3!
A prosecutor in Minneapolis has decided to no longer use grand juries in police shooting cases. Take a read.
This decision is being lauded and questioned. Pros are, there have been no indictments in 40 years there with grand juries in these kind of cases. Perhaps this will shift with dropping grand juries. Pros are, it could become politicized, as the only person making the decision is an elected (not hired) official.
What say you?
Similar story, in some ways, to Troy Davis. However, this man didn’t get the death penalty, was able to get out after 20 years, and is now working hard to make the most of his ‘second chance.’
Makes me wonder how much the difference in severity of penalties has to do with the background of his victim, and that person’s perceived ‘worth’ by our society.
Ain’t no way we’re getting through this topic in one blog post.
Heck, I’m not even going to try. But this is definitely a topic very present in my mind as we work through the process of Beyond Reasonable Doubt. We’re definitely unmasking our own levels of privilege as we work in the room. As artists, we pride ourselves on being more aware, more open, than others. This may or may not be true. But even if it were, there are always blind spots, or willful denial. And sometimes, you just don’t know what you don’t know, and all you can do is make a conscious effort to be intentional in the investigation.
One of the ways we’re doing that is – on Saturday we did a workshop with our full team, led by Dr. Irma Starr from The Ben Marion Institute for Social Justice. It was a powerful morning, working together to look at our own perspectives, what we were taught about people ‘like us’ and people who are ‘other.’ How we behave, what makes a ‘good person,’ how we deal with moments of conflict, how we assume others do. Great way for us to come together as an ensemble, but also really interesting fodder for personal reflection.
Happened across this article this morning. I think it is an interesting representation of literally slamming into your own sense of privilege. I think my favorite part is the ending.
Check it out and let me know what you think. How do you define privilege?
Oh – and by the way – tonight we read the script again, with all the changes made in the last week. Can’t wait!
Just a quick Public Service Announcement: Our fun, creative and utterly delightful Family Series production of Fancy Nancy, the Musical closes on Saturday. So you have exactly 4 chances left to see it – today at 10:30am (3/15), Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 1pm and 4pm.
Then it goes on a small tour. How fun!
It is great for girls (and boys!) of all ages – but especially 4-11 or 12. My favorite quote was from a 10-year old boy. I asked him, ‘So, do you think the show is just for girls?’ He looked at me, somewhat scornfully, actually, and said ‘A good show is a good show!’ Indeed little man. Indeed.
For a variety of reasons…it has taken a year and a half for our marquee to go up outside our building.
But today is the day!
We’re giddy with excitement.
A HUGE special thanks to our incredible sign company and designer –
Peter Pankiewicz at Pinnacle 33 Signage Solutions, LLC,
and our electrical contractors, Mayberry Electric.
Here’s how it all started, early this morning…
Here’s what happens when a 5pm rehearsal start time is delayed due to traffic.
The actors? Danielle Deadwyler and Eric Mendenhall.
The challenge? Freestyle, using the words mountain and orange.
Check it. Deadhall.
Ok. Day 3. We have read through the play, and then worked through it line by line…looking at the text. Our playwright Lee Nowell is smart and open, and our cast brings an incredible diversity of experience and expertise. It is an honor to be in the room while each person in the room speaks his or her truth, unmasks and unpacks prejudices, and helps bridge understanding of cultural nuance. I’m humbled by the gifts these artists bring.
Oh yes, and then there’s the legal details. And dramatic structure.
It is always a fascinating process to work on a project which navigates a fidelity to truth, and in the case of this project – balance – while also making sure that we are finding theatrical answers which are a satisfying dramatic experience.
In other words – we want to get the story right. And make a great play.
I couldn’t imagine a better collection of hearts and minds with whom to be doing this work.
You’re in for a treat.
(BTW – tickets are now on sale. Groups of 10+ get a deal – email Caitlin@synchrotheatre.com for more info and to set up a group).
Barrett Doyle is our set designer on Beyond Reasonable Doubt. He is an actor in addition to being a set designer, which informs his sense of space. He’s also a visual artist, and has a strong installation art influence.
The play incorporates visuals and video pulled from our research, and our video/projections designer Dale Adams will be ‘painting’ the space with those visuals throughout the play.
The set design that is underway will be a series of panels of varying opacity that can move and shift the energy and structure of the space. They draw on powerful metaphors from the play – the lines that divide us, the frames within which we operate, the layers of our lives, of communication…
It is an exciting playground for a director, and I’m eager to have bodies up and in it.
Take a peek at the first go round of the set model:
And Lane (our wonderful actor playing Alison), snapped a few pics of us working on it, with our Technical Director Carter and Stage Manager Deadra looking on…
In other news, I learned the meaning of ‘to be woke.’