By Seema Sueko, Visiting Artistic Associate and Directing Assistant for The Velocity of Autumn
August 29, 2013 - It’s Day 19 of rehearsals for The Velocity of Autumn and we’re holding our first Designer Run. This is the day all the designers will be together for a full run of the show prior to moving from the rehearsal room to the stage of the Kreeger Theater. Very exciting!
The day begins with a production meeting at 11:30 a.m. The attention to detail is impressive with this group. The Costume Department updates Director and Arena Stage's Artistic Director Molly Smith on certain elements, including shoes for the character of Alexandra (played by Estelle Parsons) and facial hair for the character of Chris (played by Stephen Spinella). Our Scenic and Props departments discuss set dressing - books, records, knickknacks and artifacts from Alexandra’s travels and life will populate the space to give her stage home that “lived in look.” Props provides a new Zippo lighter – this one with an Army Air Corps insignia - for Alexandra to use in her plan to burn down her apartment. Stage Management points out the “empty spaces where Alexandra’s paintings used to be” that need to be placed on the set. The Sound Department asks about the pre-show recorded announcement (unwrap that candy now folks) and, finally, Stage Management distributes next week’s technical rehearsal schedule. A lot’s been accomplished and the production departments head back to the theater and the shops to continue their work on the play.
At 12:30 the actors, Estelle and Stephen arrive and rehearsal begins. Molly works with them on four sections of the play, including some re-staging. The actors dive deep into these scenes before the afternoon’s Designer Run.
3:00 p.m. Designer Run. Here we go! This is the time when the designers of the production join us in the rehearsal room and watch a put-together of the play for the first time, giving them insight into placement and texture of light, sound cues needed, and what sort of workout the costumes and set will go through each night, among other things. This will inform the decisions they'll make as we move into the theater and go into tech rehearsals next week. Joining us in the room are Sound Designer Darren L. West, Associate Lighting Designer Amanda Zieve, and the Assistant to the Lighting Designer, Nikki Rosecrans.
The first Designer Run can sometimes be filled with nervousness or anticipation, as we share for the first time what we've been cooking up in the rehearsal room. I’m pleased to report the put-together of The Velocity of Autumn went very well. Some new discoveries were made, areas that still need work were identified, and new laughs were heard in the room.
Molly ends the rehearsal with some notes and discussion with the actors, before heading off to a meeting about the sound design while Estelle and Stephen work on their lines with Assistant Stage Manager, Michael D. Ward.
Rehearsal ends at 6:00 p.m.
Tomorrow we're back at it!