Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DAY 19

Final dress!  Last official rehearsal.  In just 19 days we have brought two characters to life in a believeable and moving way.  The credit goes to Lesley and Eric - without their dedication to the project, none of this would have been possible.  And tech is finished and looks great - thanks to Karla, Ariana, Bill, Thom, Erik, Gail, Tyler, Merritt, Mavis, Ro and Bret.  And then of course, the amazing help from Sharron at the Israel Center, and Elaine at the Bureau of Jewish Education - and Katie at Phoenix Theatre - and Gary at Phoenix College.  Not to mention Gena in the box office!  It takes a village!
Every thing went smoothly tonight.  Mark Gluckman, our photographer, came in to take pictures during the run.  They turn out so much nicer than posed photos.  The actors were really on - and once again I was moved by both their abilities and the story itself.
It's been a wonderful journey - hard to believe that for me, it's coming to an end.  Though technically I can still give notes after preview performances, I can't imagine what else there is to say!  And once the show opens, the Director is "gone" and the Stage Manager takes over.  It's the SM's job to keep things on track - give line notes (mistakes that were said) to the actors, if necessary, and to make sure their blocking and characterizations remain consistent.  There will still be growth in the show of course.  They'll find a little nuance here or there to enrich things, but it is basically set at this time.  I really think the audience is in for quite a treat.
Thanks for reading and sharing the process.  I may occasionally have some things to add, so stop by now and then.
In the meantime, buy tickets! and remember that our on-line auction opens on Monday, Nov. 1 - there's a link to the auction site on our home page.  All sorts of great gift items for yourselves or loved ones! 
And so it goes!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DAY 18

A number of things happened yesterday, even tho it's the "official" day off.  I went out to return Sharron's CDs to her - she greeted me with "I brought you an Israeli newspaper."  Now, that may not seem like much to you - but I was really touched.  I hadn't asked her for one - didn't want to bother her - I know she has a big event this weekend.....She simply thought it would be a nice addition to the set.  And it is.  It's a tiny detail that maybe 2 people will notice - but I love that kind of detail.  Then I borrowed a ton of religious books for Hannah's apt. and some secular ones for Zvi's from Elaine Hirsch at the Bureau of Jewish Education.  She couldn't have been more gracious!  By the time I got everything down to the theatre, Thom, our set designer had finished painting - what a difference!  He's a true master!
And happy to say the phones have started ringing!  There was a blurb with a photo in Sunday's paper (did you see it?) and we sent out a nice informative e-mail on Friday.  We had several people call for season tickets even!  Yea!
Tonight's rehearsal was very good - didn't have quite the same energy as Sunday's, but that often happens after a day off.  It tells me that they are so ready for an audience!  The audience is the magic, final ingredient that is so necessary to bring a show to life.  Even if they're completely silent, there's an energy that is given off by the audience that is transmitted directly to the actors.
So, we are definitely ready.  I had just a handful of notes for the actors tonight - tomorrow is final dress - yep, the last rehearsal.  Thursday and Friday are Preview performances, so technically, I can still give notes after them - but can't imagine what I have left to say!  By the way, tell your friends and family that tickets for Thursday (at 7:00) and Friday at 8:00 are only $20.00!  We ask that patrons those nights bring a can of food for us to give to local food banks also.  We're all in this together - we have to help each other any way we can.
And so it goes

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DAY 17

At the risk of bringing the Evil Eye upon us, have we got A SHOW!  It was like the actors were channeling Hannah and Zvi.  I got teary 1/3 of the way through the first act.  Not because of the subject matter - but because I was so moved by what a beautiful job the actors were doing....and thinking about this amazing production we've put together.  Yah, I know, sounds corny, but man it was really something.  I didn't mind that the set still isn't completely finished, or that the street lights decided not to work - none of that mattered.  We've always honored the story we're telling more than those other elements - and we've done this story justice.  It is definitely a show to be proud of. 
Course in the middle of the night, I remembered we forgot about mezzuzzahs and a coupla other things - but there's time for that.  Our scenic designer is coming in tomorrow to finish the painting; I'll run out to the Bureau of Jewish Education and borrow some appropriate books for the bookshelves; the costumer is making a few adjustments - and we still have 2 full runs before we have an audience!
Life is good.
And so it goes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DAY 16

Today was tech.  As an Equity company we're entitled to two "10 of 12s" - meaning we work 12 hour days with a 2 hour break.  But Karla is such an efficient stage manager, I don't think we've used a full 12 hours since she's been with us (except for the musicals).  The tech crew - designers, board operators and backstage crew - got there at 10.  They had already had a "paper tech" Thurs. afternoon - that's when they went over the cues and the stage manager records all of them.  She'll be in charge of telling the operators what to do when - in theatre lingo, she "calls the show."
The lighting and sound designers "showed me their wares."  We tweaked things as needed - a softer light here, a shorter door bell sound, etc.  The set guys used the time to paint.  The actors came in around 12:30. (we're holding off on costumes til tomorrow and the paint is dry!).  Then we did a cue-to-cue.  The actors are asked to go to a certain part of the script where there's a light or sound cue - they often have to do the scene several times until the tech is just right.  It can be very tedious - but is so necessary.   This show doesn't have a lot of cues  so we finished about 3:00.  Took a short break - and ran the whole show with the technical elements added!
And, I must admit it was wonderful!  And we still have a few more days to tweak things as needed!  We were out by 6:00 - Yea Karla!
Still a few more scenic things to be done, but I feel confident we're on the right road.
And so it goes

Friday, October 22, 2010

DAY 15

Is it really only 15 days?  In some ways it seems like forever - and in others, it's flown by.
Today started with my doing a half-hour radio interview with Jayde from 103.9.  I can't tell you her real name - would spoil her whole radio personna, but she's a long time friend of the theatre's.  It was great fun - and will be broadcast at 6 AM this Sunday morning on 103.9.  So, if you're an early riser, hope you'll tune in.  Somebody must be up at that hour!
Then I met Mavis at Phoenix Theatre and picked up all sorts of things we needed for the set.  I took the "big" car today - a Toyota Matrix - but man, it held a lot!  The folks at Phoenix Theatre are so good to us - they have the largest inventory of furniture, set pieces and costumes, and always make their things available to us.  We reciprocate by adding things to their stash.  Note to self:  Make sure that Katie at P.T. gets an AJTC t-shirt this year for all her help!
The set is shaping up - still a ways to go, but there were 3 guys working on it today.  Mostly just painting left.
Oh and picked up a coffee table and 2 matching end tables for $22. at our new best Thrift Store - White Dove!
We ran the whole show tonight - there were a few little hiccups, but it went really well.  The actors are settling into their characters and making the words their own.  Even when Eric "went up" (forgot his lines) he was able to cover and move on.  I stopped taking notes 1/2 way through Act 2 and just watched.  It was some of the most honest acting I've seen on stage in a long time - and told them so.  I moved around the theatre tonight to see what the audience would see from different angles, and I think we've got it right.
Ticket sales are slow - our ads are hitting this week, so keep your fingers crossed.  And if you haven't yet ordered your tickets, please do!  It's always tough to sell an unknown show, but we know that Phx is a last-minute town, so we're hoping the rush will come this week!
I'm pretty wiped out - I'm a bit old for moving furniture and props!   There's a full weekend ahead- let's hear it for adrenaline!
And so it goes

DAY 14

So, have I mentioned what a roller coaster this process is?  After my incredible high last night, today had a few dips.  I had left knowing the actors would be stellar - it's a beautiful story they're telling - PLUS there were 4 guys working in the shop - our set dresser was taking the afternoon off to pick up everything.  Life was good.
At noon I get the plaintive call from Mavis - Ikea no longer carries slip covers for the size couch and chair we have.  (The couch had been white -- at one time. ) She settled on a throw - and said she got some great pillows, etc.
Okay - not so gefaylach, as my mother, alivah shalom, would say.  Not such a big deal.
I get to the theatre - and the set doesn't look even close to done.  The new wall is put in the wrong direction, the doors have been some major problem, and somebody cut all the wood the wrong length.  Not to mention all the painting yet to be done!
It's all supposed to be ready by Saturday, when we do a full day of tech --adding in the sound, lights and costumes.
And you know what?  Somehow it will be!  It drives me crazy - and it happens almost every show.  There may be a few finishing touches that will still need to be done, but we'll still have several days before we open.  
But, of course, Eric and Lesley were wonderful again tonight!
And so it goes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DAY 13

Whew!  Couldn't get into the blog last night - very disappointing - I have so much to share!  So here it is!
Eric and Lesley OWN Act 1!  What a great rehearsal - a big leap forward.  In the process of every show -- well, every good show -- the moment comes when the actors relax enough to feel their characters, rather than think about them.  And this is about the time you hope it happens.
I decided we needed to shake things up a bit.  We started out talking about the characters and how they've evolved - I told them to worry less about trying to please me, and instead just let their characters come out and do what's right for them.  I also said I was confident they knew their lines - and to prove it, added "Let's do a speed through!"  A speed-through is when the actors go through the lines as fast as they possibly can - no acting, no movement.  Personally, as an actress I HATE them (the older you get, the harder they seem to be) - but Eric and Lesley were thrilled!  They did their speed through - and had fun with it.  Then we went through the act with my stopping them to make adjustments.  Finally, we ran the act. I was mesmerized!  You'd think after having seen it 1000 times that by now I'd be bored - but on the contrary - they really moved me - Back in the shop, we had brought in extra help to get us back on schedule with the set.  So they accomplished this great run with hammering, sawing and stapling going on - plus the occasional tech person would walk on stage to take measurements!  But their concentration was great.
And this morning I stopped by a thrift store next door to the office - and there was the perect little couch - marked 30% off - a total of $70.  And it supports Hospice of the Valley - a win-win!  We stuffed the couch into my little Honda Fit (I love that car!) and got it down to the theatre!
And so it goes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DAY 12

Yikes!  What a difference being on the big stage - and man, it is big - very wide.  The set was partially up - enough for us to work on.  Course, it's not without its problems.  Our TD (technical director) accidentally got a door which opens down stage (toward the audience), which blocks the entering actor.  He asked if I could live with that - the answer was easy - "no."  And then we realized there are no side masking walls for when each actor leaves the stage for a few seconds.  They would be leaving the apartments right into full view of the audience - not good!  Fortunately, Karla has a great tech background, and in a few minutes she came up with a relatively easy fix.  Of course, every fix just means more time and more money - but they have to be done.  Likewise with the furniture.  Our set people have been with us a long time and are always looking out for our pennies.  But, the couch was missing a back cushion - they thought they'd fill it with throw pillows, but I don't think Hannah would have decorative pillows on her couch - and the chair they found has such a high back, that if Lesley stands behind it, we can't see her - plus her feet don't touch the floor! (Have I mentioned how tiny she is!) So, I have to assure them that they can, indeed spend a little money to get the appropriate look!
We went through the show slowly, making changes in blocking that the new stage demanded.  The major difference is that now that they have all that room, they don't need to move around quite so much - so we eliminated some crosses that are now not necessary.  The hardest thing about this stage is that the audience is almost a semi-circle around the stage.  On a regular, proscenium stage, actors learn to work on the same plane - even with their scene partner, so as not to upstage the other one.  That is, not to make the partner have to turn away from the audience (upstage) to talk to them.  This stage is just the opposite.  You need to avoid being on the same plane, as it closes you off to most of the audience.  You need to stand at a diagonal from each other.  But the cool thing is that you can turn away from part of the audience, and the other part sees you great!  So, it's tricky - but kinda fun.  It's going to take some getting used to, but they were adjusting fine. 
Oh, and remember we had found an image on the net that needed to be photo shopped to make it work?  Well, Ariana's friend, Eduardo, did a wonderful job - I had it blown up and took it in tonight - and it's so great that I'm going to have another one made for the other side of the stage as well.  You have to come see the show to see what it is.
And so it goes

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 11

We all came dragging in today.  A six-day rehearsal week - on top of the fact that most of us have other jobs - makes for a l-o-n-g week. 
Today was fun though - we had our "Designer run."  The sound, set, lights and costume designers came in to watch the show and make notes.  In place of Thom, our set designer, his wife Mavis came.  She's going to be "dressing" the set.  That is, she'll get the furniture, rugs, telephones and other things we need.  I was glad she was there to see the types of things we'll need.  Right now we're using a couch that happened to be there, and then rehearsal cubes (wooden square boxes) to represent tables and such.  She took detailed notes and will start checking with other theatre companies to see what we can borrow.  And then hit the thrift stores!  Costumes seem to be under control - Eric's sport coat sleeves were too short, but that's easy enough to fix.  And we're anxiously awaiting the arrival of the head coverings we ordered for Lesley. Sound is pretty simple for this one - two different doorbells and phone rings, maybe a little thunder at the top of the show.  We've added a radio playing in one part, and got Israeli CDs to choose from.   We talked about Curtain Call music, and have decided that at most we'd like a little violin music.  And we have to record a message for the phone.  Lights got to see the various playing areas we're using.  Phx. College struck their huge set Sat. night and re-painted the floor to black today.  There must be a thousand coats of paint on that floor!
We ran the whole show - actors were great - and it was such fun to hear the designers at the end - each with a different opinion as to who is "right" and who is "wrong" (of course, neither is - or is it that each is in his/her own way!).  After a short meeting where we set the schedule for tech week,  the actors came back in.  They were exhausted.  We just ran through a couple of parts to help seal their blocking and called it a day.
While the actors have tomorrow off, the tech staff will be very busy loading in the set.  With any luck, we'll be able to add the furniture on Tuesday, and actually try a rehearsal on the stage Tues. evening.  We know there's going to be a lot of re-working of blocking, as the actors acclimate to the new, larger space.  We're lucky to be on the set this early - having 8 days on the actual set is wonderful!
Really looking forward to this next big step!
And so it goes

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Days 9 and 10

Okay, you caught me.  I didn't write yesterday.  I had stuff to say - worded it beautifully as I fell asleep and never got it written down.  And now, of course, I don't remember any of it!  I do remember that I confessed to the cast that I was having second thoughts about allowing their characters to become quite so sensitive and vulnerable.  Was I ignoring the Israeli aspect to them?  They said they were comfortable with the direction their characters were going - and we agreed to see where things led.  The last part of the show is perhaps the most explosive.  But as they went through it, with tender, heart-felt emotion - I knew I was wrong - or maybe that I was right.   How else could this story be told in a meaningful way?  The whole essence would be lost if they blustered their way through.  They have found a deepness and richness to the characters that surprised me - in a very positive way.  I started this morning by telling them they had assuaged any misgivings I had.  That I was confident we were on the right path.  Now, to get even deeper!
This is the scariest part for actors, I believe.  (you can stop reading now, Eric).  I thought Lesley took giant steps forward today.  In her attempts to make Hannah nervous, she had actually made her timid.  I simply reminded her to relax, to use her arms and body more, and to remember she was a strong Jewish woman.  During one of our breaks she had mentioned that someone called her an "iron butterfly" - I was set to tell her to add a layer of the "iron" when we did Act 1 today, but suddently it was all there!  I didn't have to say a word.  The energy was electric - she had taken control of the Act.
Eric has done most of his work in Classical theatre - such as Shakespeare.  There the language is melodic and rhythmic.  It's easy to get into patterns, which work great in classics, but are a bit less sincere in contemporary theatre.  He has such a wonderful voice and a commanding presence, that he would be just fine as is - but I think I can push him a little more - not without some resistance on his part - but that's fine too. 
This is the point in the process where we will fine tune, question, argue, and finally come to understandings about things.  It can be tricky.  But in the end, we should have a stellar production.
And so it goes

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 8

Got a few more comments from my colleague, Mira Hirsch, and passed them on to Lesley - she felt if filled in some blanks for her and helped her to understand Hannah's underlying anger.  Hey, I'm always happy to accept help, wherever it comes from, and Mira is a trusted source since she played the role and also worked closely with Motti.  I'm really lucky to have this kind of a circle of sources to go to!
We delved more deeply into Act 2 tonight.  I'm trying to walk the line between the sterotypical Israeli hot emotions with something more accessible -- and hopefully more meaningful -- to an American audience.  Fortunately, we have time to try things a number of different ways.
Can't believe how much we laughed tonight!  There are times I'll give a note to Eric and he looks at me like I'm from another planet.  But he's always willing to try - and more often than not, seems to agree it helped. 
I commented that at one point I thought the women in the audience might turn on Eric's character - both Lesley and Karla disagreed - ah, but they're young!  Then again, I could be so wrong!  It'll be interesting to see what happens.  I'd love to be able to hear the conversations in the cars on the way home.  The deeper we dig into the script, the richer it becomes, and the more the characters become 3-dimensional. 
It's an amazing process.
And so it goes

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 7

It's funny how things work out.  When I first found out Eric had a conflict for Tues night, I wasn't thrilled.  Can't rehearse a 2 person play with 1 person.  But then, coming home late Mon. night after auditioning actresses for a yet un-filled role in "The Last Schwartz," (more about that in the next show's blog), I started feeling icky.  And in the few minutes it took me to get home, I knew I had a cold - the heat behind the eyeball kind, you know?  I stayed home Tuesday - and slept off and on from about 5 pm - good thing there was no rehearsal!  Thank you Eric!
Lots of hot mint tea with honey, and a little swig of Nyquil, and I'm doing better today. But I warned the actors tonight that I was only at about 75% and might fade early.
We started work on Act 2 by talking about what's happened to their characters in the 2 1/2 month time lapse. Understanding that will affect their entrances to Act 2.  Act 2 seems like it will be a little harder for them - the characters in effect change places - their views, opinions, intensity - While actors like to think they can magically transform themselves into anyone, it takes a little longer to embody a character you don't feel you're like.  Most actors enjoy this challenge - and Eric and Lesley will for sure.  I'm glad this act is shorter, because we have to dig deeper - find connectors for them.  They were off book, though a bit tentative with the lines.  We went through 8-10 pages - but by 9:00, I knew I was done.  They chose to stay with Karla and Ariana and run lines for awhile.
Today I also connected with 2 other people who had done the show before - Diane Gilboa, the first American producer of the show, who had played the character; and Mira Hirsch from Atlanta, who I saw in the play in NY last year at the Jewish Theatre Conference.  I asked them both about some of the script inconsistencies - and turns out they each had different copies of the script than I had!  They agreed there were sticky parts, and had worked with Motti to clear them up!  I feel so much better!  There were just a coupla spots we found that they had missed, but we can correct those easily.  Also found out today from Sharron, our Israeli contact, that Israeli phone numbers have 7 digits.  Since Eric has to make a phone call, we wanted to be sure.  A small enough thing, indeed, but why not make it right?
So - it turned out to be a good day.
And so it goes

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 6

11:00 am is a much more civilized hour.  I even had time to pick up bagels and ruggalah for everyone.
I don't want to give away too much, but there is a bit of a love scene in the show.  Today, we were going to tackle it.  We talked through the movements first and made sure the actors were ready for it.  They assured me they were.  Once again, they were wonderful.  We've managed to soften the scene a bit - make it a little more romantic - for example, the script says they fall to the floor - but we have a couch right there, so we're using the couch.  Don't want to give away too many details!
The actors asked if we could go back over yesterday's work just to nail their blocking (movement) and the mechanics, or technical, aspects of a few thing - so we did.  We also spent some time just running lines so they could check where their sticky spots were.  Then we went over the last few pages of Act 1 several times.  Finally, we ran the whole act!  We're in such good shape!  I let everyone go around 3:30, rather than staying til 5.  Eric has his own theatre company which has to load in its set at Mesa Arts Center and I figured he could use the extra time.  His company is doing "The Last 5 years," a wonderful, small musical - opening Oct. 10 - check it out at 
The Equity work week is 6 days - Mondays are the traditional day off, so no rehearsal tomorrow.  And since Eric is getting his show up, we're taking Tuesday off as well.  Wed. night we start on Act 2!
And so it goes

Day 5

10:am sure seemed early to me!  But our trusty staff had coffee ready, and off we went.  Today was what is called a "straight 6."  Equity allows us 34 rehearsal hours a week.  We use 20 from Tues-Fri and the other 14 on Sat and Sun.  7 a day, right?  But, Equity says that if you have a 7 hour rehearsal you have to have a one-hour break - so, the Equity actors and stage manager take a vote as to whether they'd rather do a "straight 6", with a 20 min. break (in addition to regular required breaks) - A "straight 6" counts as 7 hours to Equity.
Clear?  It really means that we all get to be away from home for 6 hours rather than 8.
But, it can be grueling.  Especially when there are only 2 actors.  I try to keep an extra eye on their stamina and their voices.
We made great headway today.  Got through another 15-17 pages.  The actors are off book this far as well.  We worked a lot of the physical movement - they need to be natural and comfortable, but still move around in certain areas for the sake of the audience.  So we need to find a reason the character would move - does he need to get something - does she want to get away from him - etc.  Their motivation.  We're working very collaboratively - the way I love to work. Everyone seems comfortable in making suggestions, and we try it various ways.  And the actors are also great at taking direction - so man, I'm a happy camper!
I brought in my old clock-radio telephone as a phone prop.  Not one person there had ever seen one before!  Okay, so it was a bar mitzvah git to my now 36-yr-old son, but still!  They were doubly shocked to find I had just replaced it last week.
About 3:30 you could just see the actors we wrapped up a little early.
I came home and took a 3 hour nap.
And so it goes

Saturday, October 9, 2010


A Red letter day!  This morning, Lesley, Eric and I met with Sharron Topper-Amitai, the local schlicah.  She's Director of the Israel Center, sponsored by the Jewish Federation.  She and her family are here from Israel for a 2-year stint.  She had read the script - and she explained so many of the little nuances for us.  She said that Eric looked perfect for the part - just like a novelist from Tel Aviv!  She told us more about the haredi, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and gave us insight into Israeli culture.  What a treat!  She absolutely glowed when she talked about Shabbat there - the peaceful calm that starts settling in on Friday afternoon, the smell of chicken soup everywhere......
She also gave us some great posters for the lobby. And large photos of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - the contrast is striking!  They're less than an hour apart: Jerusalem with its ancient, sandstone, humble buildings - and then there's Tel Aviv with its imposing, tall skyscrapers - (Sharron said they think of Tel Aviv as a little Manhattan).
We had just a 3-hour rehearsal tonight since we used 2 hours in the morning.  Finally, we were up on our feet.  Karla and Ariana had taped out the rehearsal stage to simulate the actual set.  It always looks smaller than I imagined.  It works in this room, but what about the big stage....?  that we won't really know until the 18th or 19th when we load in the set and move in.
Eric and Lesley are off book for this part - what a joy!  Without the burden of a script in their hands, they're free to move about, gesture, even use some of the rehearsal props.  We worked the opening 6 pages in great detail - and it looks great! 
We're putting our first ever banner sign on the New Times website - wonder if anyone will notice us - would be a new market for us.
And so it goes

Friday, October 8, 2010


More table work tonight.  We delved into Act 2, again going line by line, discussing as we went.  Found a few more questions about things - got some answers from the Jewish Book of Why - and others we'll discover as we go through the rehearsal process.  The whole process is one of discovery, which makes it very exciting.  Most of what we've been doing so far is background work - info about the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) - life in secular Tel Aviv - etc.  (Lesley's husband lived in Tel Aviv for 2 years, and she shared some of his observations)
When we got to the end of the play, I reminded the actors that now that they've learned all of this, they have to forget it.  That is, the info has to seep into their bodies and become part of them without their thinking about it.  We've been talking largely about facts - but the facts don't do us any good unless they inform their actions and reactions. 
Fortunately, these actors are so experienced and so wonderful, they knew exactly what I meant.
Again, a little after 10, I could feel myself fading.  We wrapped up, but since there was still time left, Lesley and Eric chose to stay longer to run lines!!  Now that's a dedicated cast!  They're both well on their way to having the entire script memorized, which makes the whole process go that much more smoothly.  What a  treat for a director!
And so it goes

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


No rain today - and no traffic on Osborn - yea!
Tonight was what we call "table work."  We went through Act 1 line by line, making sure that the actors understood why every word was being said.  There's a lot of deception in the dialogue - so we followed up many of the line reads with - "Does he believe that, or is he just saying it?"  or "Is she telling the truth there or hiding something from him?"  We are finding a few inconsistencies, which may be due to the translation from Hebrew to English.  At one point Zvi uses the phrase "pull your chestnuts out of the fire."  Not a very common phrase, for sure.  I wonder what it was in Hebrew - or it would probably be very colorful in Yiddish!  And there are a few grammatical problems.  The script has Zvi say the word "hung" referring to a person, so we're gong to get the okay to change that to "hanged" - little things like that.  Fortunately, the playwright, Motti Lerner, has made himself very accessible to us, so we'll make a list and send it to him for his approval.
I had been bothered by the fact that it refers to the fact that Hannah asked for the divorce, when I had always thought that only the man could initiate a divorce.  I brought in my "Jewish Book of Why" - Volumes 1 and 2!  And sure enough, there are circumstances under which a woman can appeal the Rabbinic court to compel the man to grant her a divorce.  I should have known - there's never just ONE answer to a Jewish question!
I Googled some images from Mea Shearim, the Orthodox area where Hannah lives, and found a great sign that I'd like on the set - but the image is slanted slightly.  Good news is that Ariana, our assistant stage manager, has a photo shop geek friend who says it's an easy fix!  I've already e-mailed the image to her - so keep your fingers crossed for us.  It will add such a lovely realistic image to the set!
We were scheduled from 6-11 tonight, but this kind of scrutiny is pretty wearing - about 10:15, I started to fade - and Eric was quick to say he was too.  So we wrapped things up.  We had made it through Act 1, which was my goal anyway. 
Another great rehearsal!
And so it goes

Day 1

What an auspicious start!  That storm was amazing - hail coming into the office - Yikes! There were a few phone calls back and forth - could the costumer make it in from Tempe? Put the photographer on stand by - but the storm stopped - everyone had traffic stories to share (who says nobody takes Osborn!) They say that rain is good luck - man, we've been blessed!
We had a short production meeting, while the Lesley and Eric got into costume for a photo shoot. Thom, our scenic designer, and Erik, our technical director (TD) went over paint colors for the 2 different sets. I have a call into Copenhagen (Furniture Store, not the city) to see if they'll loan us some furniture for Act 2 - but as a back up, Karla (our stage manager) has offered her Ikea couch and chair! The older furniture for Act 1 is easy to borrow from another theatre.  Thom went over the model of the set with the actors - I took them onto the stage, (where Phx. College is getting ready to open Tartuffe!).  Lesley had performed there when she was 17! 
When Lesley sat down in her costume for the shoot, Gail, our costume designer, and I could see that her skirt wasn't long enough to cover her knees well - a must for this character - so Gail will fix that.  The photos came out great.  If I can figure out how to post them, I will. 
After the Equity folks had their private meeting (they elect a deputy who is supposed to send weekly reports to Equity (and squeal if I brow beat them) and signed contracts and tax forms, we began the "read through." They were spectacular!  I was impressed by how well they knew the script - had clearly done their homework.  They each caught so many of the little nuances that could have been glossed over.  It's going to be a real treat to work closely with them.
We spent time schmoozing - it's so important that they feel comfortable with each other.  They didn't know each other before being cast.  5 and 6 hour rehearsals 
can be tiring with just 2 actors, so we'll make sure to take time to just bond as well.
Does anybody know if Orthodox are excused from military duty in Israel?  (Has nothing to do with the play, we just wondered.)
And if there's a photo shop geek out there, we could use you!
Oh, and I can't say enough about how wonderful the staff is at Phoenix College!  They couldn't be more welcoming or helpful.  We have a dedicated person, Tyler, and he's already part of the family!
And so it goes....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Hard Love" Rehearsal Process

I am attempting to move into the 21st Century, and thought it might be fun to blog about the rehearsal process  - we'll be starting Tuesday night, Oct. 5.
I chose the play "Hard Love" for a number of reasons.  This will be the first Israeli play we've done!
I've met playwright Motti Lerner a number of times at Jewish theatre conferences and have always been impressed.  He's one of Israel's foremost playwrights - and a nice guy as well!  I saw a scaled-down performance of the play at last year's Jewish theatre conference in New York - and was immediately struck by it.  It deals with the conflict between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular in Israel - as seen through the eyes of an Ultra-Orthodox woman and her former husband, now a secular man.   But it could just as easily be Romeo and Juliet, the Hatfields and McCoys or remember Patches from the 60's song - she lived on the wrong side of the tracks?  I think most non-Jews think that a Jew is a Jew, but there are zillions of degrees and differentiations and all. 
I thought the play would bring up subjects that aren't generally brought to light through theatre, and so it intrigued me.  And yes, I must admit, it's relatively easy to produce since there are just 2 characters!  I knew I wanted to direct it.
We were very fortunate to cast 2 of the best - Eric Schoen, who was in last year's "Fools" for us - and Lesley Tutnick-Machbitz, whose worked I've admired for a long time.  They are both such pros, and so dedicated - they're already working on getting off book (having everything memorized), which will make my job that much easier.
We've all been doing research of the Meah She'arim area of Jerusalem where the first act takes place.  The name means "a hundred-fold" or "a hundred gates." It's one of the oldest Jerusalem neighborhoods outside the walls of the old city.  It was settled by about 100 families in the 19th century.  Its members are Haredi (or Charedi) - the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism.

We'll be calling upon Sharron Topper-Amitai from the Israel Center to give us "insider" details - but I'm amazed at all you can find on the internet.  We found a photo of the signs that are everywhere at the gates of the area pleading with outsiders to respect their ways- we're hoping to be able to make one large enough to use on stage.

So with any luck, I'll be adding to this blog on a regular basis, and you can share the rehearsal process with us!  The show previews on Oct. 28 - and yes, tickets are on sale now!