Monday, April 14, 2008

Intense Experience

I had a very intense experience this weekend. I was in rehearsals for Godspell basically all weekend... 7-10:30 on Friday, 10:30-4:30 on Saturday, and 1-9:30 on Sunday. We got a lot done, but that also leads to exhaustion and all that goes with it.

During our Sunday rehearsal, Ryan (who plays Jesus, is our dance captain, and who is also the technical director of the theatre) just was a little off. He wasn't remembering dance steps very well, and he wasn't retaining blocking. As the afternoon went on, it was clear that he hadn't been working on lines. He was blanking out like crazy. Randy, our director, was getting progressively pissed off. Ryan just couldn't get it and was saying, "I'm sorry," over and over again. It was a little uncomfortable for all of us.

Randy lit into Ryan at one point, saying that he'd been cast for over three months... way before any of us were... and that he couldn't believe he didn't know his stuff at this point. He kept going on and saying that he'd picked the show because he thought Ryan would be able to handle it. It was terrible. The angrier Randy got, the worse Ryan did. I thought he was going to cry at one point. I hate that kind of confrontation anyway, and we were all tired and frustrated. It just wasn't good.

Randy finally just stopped rehearsal and told Ryan to go out in the hall and wait for him. When they were gone, we all ran for our scripts to start cramming so the same thing wouldn't happen to us. Everyone was in panic mode. Randy came back in alone and gathered us around. He told us that Ryan didn't think he was going to be able to do the show. Randy said he'd thought Ryan was ready to handle it, but obviously he wasn't. Randy asked us to take 5 while he got on the phone to L.A. to contact some actors who had played Jesus in the past to see if he could fly one of them out Monday to fill in.

Well, I was sick. I just had this terrible "pit in my stomach" feeling. Everyone was just staring at each other for a bit, all bug-eyed and confused. I've done tons of shows with Ryan, and I just couldn't believe this was happening. Randy came back after a few minutes and told us he'd contacted a friend of his who was trying to book a flight for Monday to come here. Randy wasn't sure in what capacity Ryan would stay on. He wasn't sure if he'd be remaining as dance captain or as technical director of the theatre. I don't think anyone even breathed.

I was ticked. I couldn't believe Randy was making that decision. As a board member, I didn't know how we'd afford to bring another actor in. I also felt so terrible for Ryan. I just was flabbergasted. No one spoke. Randy asked us if we wanted to say anything. Still, no one spoke. The tension was palpable. It was awful.

Randy just kept looking at all of us. I don't think I looked away from him at all. It was so uncomfortable. I didn't know how we were going to have a show. We open this Friday! We hadn't even blocked everything at this point. And we were losing our lead??? our dance captain??? possibly our technical director??? It was sickening.

Finally, after an eternity, Randy spoke. He told us that what had just happened was an acting exercise and that none of it was true. Ryan was still with us and had been screwing up all afternoon on purpose. My reaction was so odd... I burst into tears! I had to leave the room and pull myself together. I still don't totally understand my reaction, but I think it was a combination of feeling so lost about the show that I'd been pouring my heart into... but also, I think I had my feelings hurt. I don't know. Other people were crying too. It was really upsetting.

Randy went on to explain why he did that exercise. He was getting ready to block the Last Supper, and he didn't want any "acting." He didn't want any of us to "act" sad because Jesus leaving us. He wanted genuine emotion and not anything more than what we were honestly feeling at that moment. When we all thought that Ryan was leaving, we had honest reactions of shock, sadness, anger, etc. Randy wanted to put us, in a very simplistic way, into the places of the disciples when they knew their master and teacher was leaving them. Boy, did it ever work!

In the show, the Last Supper is followed by this really beautiful song called "On the Willows." During the song, Jesus says goodbye to the disciples one by one. We were all a MESS! Thank goodness we don't have to sing that one... the band actually sings it. I'm actually tearing up right now, just writing about it again. It was so emotional.

I pretty much hate that Randy put us all through that, but I understand why he did it, and it definitely got the results that he wanted. I felt like jello after that, but what I felt was honest and real... not acting in any way. I think it's going to be a pretty amazing moment of theatre. It really showed me what a gut-wrenching two hours it's going to be, going through all those emotions and giving 100% physically in all the dance numbers. I'm going to be completely wiped after the show. Saturdays are going to be insane, performing two of those a day, but I think it's just going to be awesome. Awesome. I CAN'T WAIT!!!

On an entirely (well, sort of ) different note... the pictures from the Sondheim Center's Opening Gala are finally posted on our website. Take a look by clicking on


  1. While I don't necessarily agree with the method used by the director (actually--I think it's quite rotten), your blog entry had me on the edge of my seat because I know all of you and I've had those feelings too.

  2. I've heard Randy brag about this technique before. Sorry you fell for it.

  3. I get the point of doing what he did, but wasn't there a better way? The whole thing seemed very manipulative and excessively unpleasant.

  4. Actually, I really feel OK now with how things were handled. I'm not sure he could have done anything else to get me personally to that place. Last night's rehearsal went really well. The show is going to be GREAT!

  5. goooosefraba.

    i thought it was brilliant.

    (i was there)

  6. Yuk. I was practically bawling when I watched it. It was crazy. I don't cry. You grow up with all the stories, but seeing it right in front of me just made them flow. Something released the flood gates. :D Good real reactions from the cast I suppose. I would have kicked something if Randy did that to me. Probably him. lol :D


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