This week we rehearsed our outdoor production of The Book of Liz outdoors in the park on the 5th Avenue side of the Old Stone House.
On Tuesday the actors had the challenge of maintaining focus and composure (which they did with aplomb) while a funk and soul band played, loudly and well amplified, across the street. After that experience they were prepared to deal with anything that might come their way. Any type of interference.
On Thursday we rehearsed again outside, but this time there was no funk band. There were, however, many “audience members” for us, ranging from the casual passersby to the earnestly focused on the performance. My favorite audience members were the young people who stopped and stayed, incredibly focused on the actors at work. By Scene Five there was a trio of girls who were not only watching but slowly moving closer to the “stage” (which was chalked out on the ground) and, incidentally, directly in front of me as I watched the run through and took notes. I did not move them out of my field of vision because my view was not as important as encouraging their interest in live performance (or not discouraging it at least).
There were several highlights from the rehearsal once the girls were there. There were many moments when the actors changed the expletives in the play to more family friendly, or at least vague, terms (b-hole, jerk, goo, slag replaced the usual suspects). But my favorite moment, captured in the photo above, was when Yvone is pointing out to Liz one of the fishes in the fish tank (located in the imaginary 4th wall, in the direction of the audience). At that moment the girls were so engrossed in the truthful storytelling of the actors that they turned behind them to see the (imaginary, nonexistent) fish tank.
I love the draw of live performance. I love the power of the theatrical imagination.