Anna Bella can you hear me?

process process process! Ya want the inside scoop on how ABE's rehearsal process is going? We sit on our butts all day long!

Let me start by saying that Lisa D'Amour's ANNA BELLA EEMA is a haunting piece of story telling. 3 actors never leave the stage, or their chairs.

There is some visual oomph!, but the real theatre magic happens in the imagination. Because we are restricted to our seats, we have to rely on our voices to do the work. We get some help from the haunting score and also from the sound scape we are creating with our props which double as instruments. The gorgeous language and active listening is all that's needed to take this ride. But getting there is challenging.

It's odd sometimes how restrictions in work can actually set a performer free. Because this piece is designed to be heard, Rebecca, Julie, Danielle and I are always trying to strike the balance between really "hearing" the play and "seeing" the play. So, our listening is improving. That silent connection between the 3 performers is getting stronger as we move forward. We're becoming a 3 headed unit telling a fantastic tale with our voices, bodies, and props.

Normally, a rehearsal process would start with reading through the script, maybe working for a day or two on just the text, then getting up on our feet to start on blocking and character physicalizations. I always go into a rehearsal interested in finding how my character walks, what my character's internal tempo is, and how my character sounds.

With Anna Bella Eema, we worked at the table for the first week...trying to just listen. We had whole conversations about rhythm and underscoring. We went through the piece marking up our scripts with a soundscape, not blocking. We read aloud and asked ourselves not what we "saw" but what we "heard". How can we best accentuate Lisa's story through sound?

Our sound guru, Cliff, is contributing to the table work tremendously! He and our props master, Kathleen, have assembled this huge sound playground of odd objects that make noise. Each actor has a little tray table full of funny sound makers that we use as instruments. Because we can't get up out of the chairs, our focus is shifting to making the most vivid piece of theatre without having to show the audience anything. How can we make you think you SAW something, when really you only heard it?

It's a delicious challenge. Right now we have assembled a rehearsal set of 3 chairs and 3 trays. We are still playing with our sound props, discovering which object sounds the most "creepy", "disturbing", "sweet". We're learning the dissonant, haunting score, and getting closer and closer each day to singing the harmonies acapella.

It's an awesome challenge for our ears...and out butts.

More soon.


1 comment:

Kent said...

It's looking (sounding...) really good!