All The World's a Stage...But Especially the Parts Where You Perform Plays

While a lot of my online friends and loyal readers are familiar with the goings on in the "business called show," I know that there are some that aren't. I also am currently knee deep in it, and that's what I want to write about today, so there!

In the professional world there is very little time for rehearsals. In repertory theatres the rehearsal period is generally a week or two during the day while the current show runs at night. Off Broadway shows may be work-shopped for decades, but once they actually begin the rehearsal process they go quickly into previews.

College theatre is a little different. The main obstacle to such a quick turn around is that the actors, technicians, crew etc. are all students and therefore largely unavailable for work and rehearsals during the day. This extends the process, generally with three to five weeks of rehearsals, followed by a week or two of performances. "Zorro" is roughly on this schedule.

The first week of rehearsals is often used for "table work". This consists of line readings between the actors, discussion about characters' motivations, accents and physicality with the director, and maybe some early blocking. Blocking, at its most basic, is the process of deciding where to stand and where to walk while saying your lines. Some of it is organic (ie. If I said this, I'd want to do this), some is pre-determined by the director (I want a certain visual image at this moment) and some is trial and error (you can't walk there, 'cause I'll trip over your gown).

That's how the first week would go for most shows. "Zorro" is not like most shows, however. When we're done, "Zorro" will run just less than two and half hours. Probably two hours of that will involve some level of physical interaction (dancing, fighting, whipping, physical comedy). With so much physicality inherent in the show the emphasis (even this early) has to be on actor training and preparation. So instead of discussing character motivations and reading lines for the first four or five rehearsals, we're blocking out fights, learning stage combat techniques and training with new weapons. This brings us to the bullwhip.

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I'm a pretty cool guy. I'm funny, intelligent and charismatic. I've sold cars, answered phones, acted at the community, collegiate, and professional levels. I've been trained in hand to hand combat techniques, am handy with a broadsword, knife, rapier and dagger and very good with a quarterstaff. And now I know how to use a whip.

I also have arms of Jello...after having thought about it, they may not like me using their product name. Let's just say I have arms of gelatin dessert. Saturday morning was my first training session and after about forty-five minutes worth of whip work I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then came Monday night. I spent the better part of two and a half hours with a whip in my hand, and it darn sure wasn't just danglin' there.

There is a very specific crack that the director wants me to learn for the show. I'll be beating a peasant, and it needs to look painful, while not actually being so. It's not an easy crack to learn, but after just two days of work I'm getting the hang of it. Not only am I going to be hilariously funny in this role, (at times at least) I'm gonna look like a badass. Woohoo for me!

Tonight I'm called at 7:30 for more whip work, so chances are that by tomorrow my arms will be literally be too sore to raise to this keyboard. But the payoff at the end of April will be sweet! Thanks to everybody who has sent me well-wishes and congrats for getting back on stage. It has been a while, but once I'm there it feels like I've never left. I guess there will always be a little bit of the actor in me. And now there's a little bit of the Whip in there too.