Rehearsal blues

posted in: Ethiopian project | 0

However frustrated and depressed I might feel after a rehearsal – and I am frequently both – I am generally able to pick myself up and arrive at the next in a cheerful and positive mood, and with a plan of action… however much that is immediately derailed by events (chiefly the late or non-arrival of key actors).  So I should not have been surprised when two of the twins, one from each pair, on whom the heart of the play relies, were not able to be there on Thursday morning.  We were forced to focus on the prologue, in which they are not involved.  Since this is the section of the play with which they are most comfortable, it was scarcely a priority; on the other hand, none of it is exactly over-rehearsed – a considerable understatement – so it was useful nonetheless.And we could also pay more attention to the ending, for although this contains the final revelation, in which all four twins appear on stage at the same time for the first time, it does involve just about everyone.  It had not been a great rehearsal, inevitably slow, clumsy and stilted, but at least we had not wasted our time.But if Thursday was disappointing, Friday was worse.  When, eventually, everyone had arrived (they do come from all over the city, so this is always a problem) we attempted a run-through (or at least a stagger.)  As usual, the prologue was fine; not great, but fine.  But as soon as we moved on to the meat of the story, relying upon the rapid interchange of the four main characters, it fell apart almost immediately.  Atala missed her first cue while fetching a drink of water, Abraham flew into a rage when his on-stage partner failed to show and stormed off stage in a huff, and the whole cast started shouting at one another (in Amaric, naturally), and even Yohannes- wonderful, rather brilliant Yohannes – kicked a plastic pot in sheer frustration.I think I may have been the calmest there, and called them all off-stage to go for a debrief in the classroom, where they could all regain their composure and I could talk to them.  It was unfortunate that we needed Alazar to open the room, for he then took it upon himself to conduct an inquest, give them a bollocking, and then conduct a long discussion.  At least, that is what I was pretty sure what was happening; since it was all in Amaric, I could only wait for them to finish before regaining some control.It was clear that they did not know the structure of the play, and I promised to provide a scene list for the next day.  But I also did my best to reassure them that this was not the disaster they feared, that I had experienced far worse (true), and that we had time to sort it out.  And then we went back out onto the terrace and stumbled through, with me intervening to tell them who was on next, and where from.  And somehow, we got to the end of the play.One of the things that had been agreed was that we needed more rehearsal time, and so it had been arranged that we would all come in today, Saturday.  I gave out the promised scene-lists, but as we were at first missing the main characters in the prologue, we began with the section immediately following.  I did have to be a little stern at this point.  They had become accustomed, whenever any scene that they were involved in was finished, to congregate in the café area.  This meant that they nearly always missed their cue, and also relied on me to tell them when to get on stage.  They were never going to learn the play this way, so I insisted that they remain in their places backstage, ready for their cue.And once we made it to the end of the play, we went back to the beginning and started again (not as draconian as it sounds – the whole thing only lasts thirty minutes.)  And this time they got all the way through the whole play (almost) without any intervention on my part.  And bits of it were OK… which was a massive improvement upon yesterday.  And it gave everyone – the cast, Binyam, me – the hope that just maybe it might be alright.


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