Rehearsal: An Actor's Blog, Day 1

A daily rehearsal blog from actor Paul Stetler, playing Edgar in The Lady from Dubuque.

First day of rehearsals for Edward Albee’s “The Lady From Dubuque”. It’s been a couple years since I last acted at the Rep and I couldn’t be more excited about being a part of this amazing play. I think I’m one of the privileged few to have actually done this play since it premiered and, inexplicably, disappeared in the early '80s. I played Sam in a graduate school production during my years at Penn State. (This time I get to play Edgar.)

I must admit that I am a sucker for first rehearsals and I have eagerly been looking forward to this one. There’s a wonderful sense of anticipation as the director, actors, stage managers, designers, staff and technicians begin the process of bringing a play to life.

We began the morning with a “meet-n-greet” in the rotunda where our director (and Seattle Rep artistic director) David Esbjornson spoke to us all about his vision of the play, showed us a model of the marvelous set design (by John Arnone), and shared a few very humorous anecdotes recounting some of his conversations with Mr. Albee (whom he has worked with on a number of occasions) about this play. Our costume designer, Beth Clancy, then spoke briefly about her ideas for costuming the show. (She is committed to getting to know the individual actor…getting a slight sense of their personality, as well as their input…before making any decisions. A refreshing and welcome approach.)

After a short break, we moved into the rehearsal hall and had an informal reading of the play. David encouraged us to make strong choices but also to keep it simple and not try to push for any results which, to my mind, is a great way to approach first read-thrus.

Our cast is a mix of local actors…Kristin Flanders, Hans Altweis, myself, and the newly arrived Chelsea Rives…and out-of-town actors…Carla Harting, Charlie Matthes, Frank X, and our illustrious Lady from Dubuque, Myra Carter. I’m a big fan of Kristen’s work and thrilled for the opportunity to work with her. And Hans, who has worked regularly at the Rep over the years, and I are good friends (and next door neighbors, which will make our commute from Rainier Beach a little more lively). Our other cast members I only met today but, based on the read-thru, I can already tell they’re an extremely talented group of actors. We are especially privileged to have Ms. Carter, an American theater icon and frequent collaborator of Mr. Albee’s, amongst us. Rounding off the group is our stage manager, Elisabeth Farwell.

I look forward to sharing with you a bit of our creative process through this “rehearsal blog”. I hope it will prove to be an informative peek into what it takes to make a particular play…in this case, a little known gem from America’s greatest playwright…come to life.

More to come.


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