So last week we held auditions for The 39 Steps at CCCT and this week we jumped right in and began rehearsing. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably missed my first "production blog" entry - check it out here.)
Auditions - especially for a volunteer project at a community theatre - are always exciting to me for a variety of reasons:
For starters, because its a volunteer project there's always this slight, little fear that no one will actually show up. Right up until I was looking at all the talented actors that came to audition, I had that little voice in the back of my mind: What do you do if no one comes? What if you end up being forced to cast someone who can't handle it because you didn't get enough people? What if no one shows up at all?
But also, its the very beginning of the show actually coming to life. Up to that point, (for me anyway) I hadn't considered specific reads on a line beyond my first impressions. Outside of a performance of the show I saw years ago, I hadn't heard the lines spoken yet. It all feels very much more real when you hear voices to go with all these characters, even when its not quite the voice you were looking for initially - and that's exciting!
All in all I had eight actors turn out to audition for the four roles, and in all seriousness, I think any of them could have handled a role in the show. At the end of the day it took me about a week to lock in my casting decisions, going back over my notes and recording of the rehearsal, weighing schedules against each other and playing with different variations of the ensemble that I've ended up with.
And this past week we got into our first table reads of the show, but of course even that wasn't as straightforward as it usually would be because it is "this show" as we keep finding ourselves joking whenever we hit something ridiculous or unexpected.
Between the two actors playing the "clowns" (as the script calls them) there are about thirty five characters. (Yes, you read that right - 35 characters between the two of them.) For obvious reasons it would not have been easy to have the actors audition for each of these characters individually. So I decided to try something else, once I'd decided who my two clowns were going to be, I had them swap roles as we went through this week. In our first table read I had one of them read the first occurring "clown" character in each scene and the next day they swapped roles. Based on those reads (and what I saw in auditions) I was able to firm up my thoughts on their specific casting before our third read, so that they can work on their own characters over the weekend.
Our last read this week had the two of them in their assigned roles and now I'm really seeing the show come together, and its so exciting. These individual characters are all starting to have their own voices and I can't wait to get further into the process. I've got a great cast, we're all enjoying it, and the script is just a blast to work through.
Now I just need to get my set design sorted sometime in the next three weeks...
That'll do it for this week's post. As the film and video people who follow this blog know, the NAB convention starts next week and I'll be out there again this year, so I'm sure I'll find plenty to write about in regards to that - I've also got a small-ish new piece of gear in the mail on its way to me. Hope to have time to play with it and post more about that soon.
As always thank you for reading, and feel free to drop a comment below if you'd like to know more about anything I write about in this blog.
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Until next time.
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX