The read-through of The Importance of Being Earnest took place Sunday, February 15, in the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office. After introductions and a bit of business, the nine cast members read the script for the first time as a group, and I was pleased with the result. Character choices were immediately apparent and the actors had a good grasp on the rhythm and tempo of the dialogue. Is there work to be done? Definitely, but there is a very solid base from which to start. I think Assistant Director Cameron Johnston and Stage Manager Brian Carless will agree with me on that point.
Next week will be devoted to blocking the action for all three acts. Cameron and I have worked out some blocking (movement) that can be divided into three areas: movement that is essential to advance the action of the play, to reveal character and to add visual variety (and humor) to the stage. The read-through allowed the actors to show how they could create characters with their voice; the blocking rehearsals will be the first step to allow the actors to develop their characters through movement.
Other very important pieces of the production are coming together nicely. Producer Melanie R. Buchanan has been tremendous at bringing together talented young people to be part of the crew. If a show had no crew members, actors would be performing in the dark wearing their street clothes on a bare stage and using pantomime.
The crew of The Importance of Being Earnest includes the following people:
Eric Barlow, sound design and sound board operator. Eric will create sound effects and several tracks of music to be played before, during and after the show. He will also run the sound board so the cues play at the correct time. During shows, Eric will be in the upstairs booth with Brian Carless and Aaron Brehm.
Bailey Rosa and Bethany Grimes, lighting design. Bailey and Bethany will light the stage not only to illuminate the actors but also to reflect the physical settings and the emotional undertones of the play.
Aaron Brehm, light board operator. Aaron will run the light board to make sure the light cues play at the correct time. During shows, Aaron will be in the upstairs booth along with Brian Carless and Eric Barlow.
Tristan Marshall and Isaiah Hale, properties. Tristan and Isaish will be collecting hand props – such as a cigarette case, books, a dinner glass and more – as well as set props, which include chairs, a couch, a fireplace and more. During shows, they will be backstage.
Grace Lazarz and Meghan Arnold, backstage personnel. Grace will organize the backstage crew to ensure that scene changes during the intermissions move smoothly and efficiently. Meghan will work with Grace and other backstage crew members to make scene changes during the play's intermissions.
Jenny Furtner, Summer Adams, Beatrice Masters, Katie Martin, Mollie Westbrook and Samantha Citro, costume / hair / makeup crew. The costume crew will provide the audience visual clues about the action and characters. It isn't just a question of giving an actress a long dress to wear, but to find a dress that reflects the play's era (late Victorian period in England), the play's settings (city versus country) and the attitudes that the characters embody. Katie, Mollie and Samantha will also be working on the actors' hair and makeup.
Cody Walker, dramaturge. Cody will be working with Melanie to conduct research about the setting of The Importance of Being Earnest as well as particular references that may not be easily understood in contemporary times. The information they gather will benefit not only me, but also the actors and the designers.
Marcos Cisneros, photographer. Not only will Marcos take headshots of the actors for the callboard in the theatre lobby, but he also will be taking pictures during the rehearsal process to document the production from beginning to end. He also will take production photos of the actors on stage in costume and in action.
Laurie Russell has designed the set for the production. We came to the same conclusion about the concept of the production – every character has two sides, one that is dominant in polite society and another that is prominent in private. This duality will be reflected in the major set pieces of the production – segmented upstage wall units that can be adjusted to reflect the different settings and emotions. Although the characters are two-sided, the wall units will be three-sided.
The audience will see the nine actors onstage, but it also takes a talented crew to pull off a production. The work of these talented folks will make the show much richer and evocative.