Rehearsal: An Actor's Blog, First Preview

From actor Marya Sea Kaminski, playing Rachel in My Name is Rachel Corrie.

First preview tonight. A strong show. We are on a steep learning curve. And by we, I mean me. The audience was kind and so, so interesting.

"Nothing could've prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it."

That's what Rachel Corrie wrote on February 7th, 2003 about living in Rafah. And I feel that, in the first moments of the play, looking out at the audience folding up their programs and settling in. The analogy is weak, but that line resonates in the experience of putting this show in front of a house full of people. A house full of you. You are my scene partner. You are fully participant in steering this journey, whether you like it or not. That's what happens when it's just the one me and the you. And some of you lean forward, elbows on your knees, jumping a little at the revelations, and breathing deeply. And some of you lean back. Like you're waiting for something. Like you're expecting me to strike a match and send all the issues surrounding this play up into heavy smoke. It's fascinating. Acting with you. Reading you. Trying to open my book and turn on my light and hoping that you will see the things that Rachel is trying to show us.

I mean, it's for her, really. When you scrape away all the noise. The lights and the sound and the words and the applause are for her. That is a tremendous thing to experience. It makes me believe in Theatre. It makes me scoff at Time. It keeps me Awake. Like more awake than I've been in a long while, to conjure her relentless spirit and feel it under my clothes in the brief moments that it dances across the stage. I think that wherever she is, she's laughing. And probably waltzing around in her underwear. And struggling to put truth to words. And looking all of us square in the eye.

And she is kicking my ass. To be perfectly blunt. The play is stitched together quite beautifully at this point and Braden is still pushing and digging. He is gnawing at more peaks and valleys in the text, more vibrant colors in the corners of the performance. Rachel's relentlessness has gotten under his skin, I think. I guess it takes one to know one. There is no time to rest in this process.

Which is killing me a little. All I want to do is sit up there and take a good look at you guys and gather in the moment. Hold it in my hands and contemplate it deeply and put it in my pocket and move softly forward. And there is no time and no rest for that in this play. The writing moves so quickly, her goodbyes are short and deep and her hellos become nexts before there's time to decide on a direction, she's moving forward. This is difficult for the pleaser in me, the part of me that wants to put something out there, and search for response, and move forward when we've reached some kind of agreement. Rachel didn't wait for that. She didn't wait for permission. She moved heartfirst on the balls of her feet.

It's so good. And by good, I mean deliciously difficult. To live in that. To not wait. To not double check to be sure. To not look for so long that you forget that you came here to leap.

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