by Shelley Graham, dramaturg
Each performer in this production had a unique opportunity to create a character in ways we’ve never tried before. Such singular opportunities bring with them challenges. I reached out to our performers in the middle of blocking and choreography rehearsals, to see what they thought about the process. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
One of the challenges I’ve experienced with this production is the need to exactly replicate every inflection in my dialogue. People speak and inflect the same words differently in different contexts, on different days, and for endless reasons. Because we recorded the audio before filming, the challenge was to match our performance with the inflection we had on the recording day. I’m a fairly emotive person, and I rarely say things exactly the same way twice. In order to be successful with this production, I had to spend a lot of time listening to the recordings of myself, a strategy I’ve not used in preparing for roles in the past.
During this process, it was a challenge to not have in-person rehearsals when learning the score. I personally learned how to plunk out my notes on the piano, worked with those in my vocal part, and was able to meet privately with Korianne [Johnson, music director] to confirm that I was on the right track vocally, and that I was ready to record in a group! This has been such a wonderful experience despite the challenges! I have learned so much and am grateful to be a part of this production
I think an obvious challenge is covid. It’s been affecting this whole process! The worst part about it is that not everyone can be on the stage, so I feel like it is a little more difficult to be able to react to the other actors that are “on stage.” You just have to imagine that they are there!
I think the biggest challenge for me was having to learn everything alone, without any guidance or direction from either the vocal or acting directors at first. It was super interesting and a great learning opportunity, because I got to put my own spin on everything before it was altered by the directors, but it was still really hard. I think the way that I overcame this challenge was just lots of time putting into memorizing and learning and practicing. Practice makes better!
Highlights from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance is live streaming March 31, April 1-2 at 7:30 pm. Don’t miss it!