Act One

Act One of Prairie Nocturne is on its feet. I am quite pleased with how much work has been done in such a short time. Watching on Wednesday afternoon, rain falling down in buckets outside, I could see the shape of things to come.

One of the first things a director does is “blocks” the show. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of mounting a stage production, that means the director – working with the actors – makes decisions about where people physically are onstage at every moment in the play. It also means tracking where moving set pieces, props, and other inanimate objects are as well. Sometimes the offstage choreography is even more complicated than onstage. Furniture must move from one side of the theater to the other, actors have to get props or costume pieces, stage crew have their jobs to do, all without bumping into each other in the dark.

The stage managers tape the outlines of the set on the rehearsal floor with spike tape, so the director and actors can “see” where the set pieces will be. It’s always fun to notice an actor look down, realize they are standing half on, half off a platform, and move over to the correct side of the tape.

Table work is another aspect of rehearsal that happens early on in the process. During table work, the cast and director work through the lines in a scene, discussing the meaning, clarifying pronunciations (Gros Ventre is one of my favorite names in the play, who knew it sounds like Grow Van?), and with a new script, changing lines (or adding or cutting or moving). So far so good.

Can’t wait to see Act Two on it’s feet!

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.