Rehearsal: An Actor's Blog, Pt. 2

From actor Sarah Rudinoff, playing Minka Lupino in Murderers.

I felt bad about forgetting to blog—I was asked to write my thought on rehearsals when I wanted to and then I realized...I forgot to. Funny to add blogging to the to do list. Rehearsals have been going well. We all miss each other because we are not acting together. The three of us have a moment in the beginning together and of course we get a few moments to rehearse it and all we want to do is visit and bond as we wait for the music cue that gets us onstage. Our most amazing stage manager, Cris Reynolds (who is one of the best and really is that most incredible mix of den mother, organizer, ship captain and artist) gives us some leeway to futz around and give pecks on the cheek and talk and make jokes—she knows we need this strange ape like actor grooming ritual with each other. It's funny but true to think that many of us got into this craft, this life, for the pleasure of connecting with people and this camaraderie and community that is created. When I have done a solo show—especially when I have toured a solo show and don't even know any of the crew and stage managemen—I have sat in my dressing room (or the pool table room, or someone's strange office) and joked with myself in the mirror "Have a great show! No you have a great show. Break a leg! I think I will." I think we are all secretly looking forward to our 12-hour-a-day tech rehearsals that start this Sunday because we will all be together for a week and get to see each other.

I had a trip planned to L.A. when I got cast in the show, and I was allowed to go on a shortened version last weekend. It included seeing Rufus Wainwright doing Judy Garland at the Hollywood Bowl, very fun. I got back and had had 2 1/2 days less of rehearsal that everyone else and everyone was off book but me!! I felt ahead before I left and then....I am one page away from this 17 page monologue being in my bones and I am going to memorize the last page before we do a run of the show for an invited crowd at the Rep today. I love these invited crowd days because people come from everywhere in the building to watch, and it is incredible to see how many people work in the building. When you see everyone gather you realize what it takes to run a huge theatre—painters, props masters (who are doing the most fun version of these "cheesy paperbacks" I have on stage), costumes, admin, education, marketing. It is pretty wonderful.

Rehearsals have been very focused and I adore Steven. He doesn't want to just listen to the sound of his voice or pontificate (I have a creeeping suspicion that I am this kind of director actually). He is one of those great directors that understands if he lets you find it then you can recreate it each night in a fresh way, because your brain synapses and nerves and hunches and body language and thoughts and all these little, almost imperceptible, things lead you there. If you are just "following directions" the performance can feel empty and your mind is filled with "then Steven said to go here, then here, then I am supposed to do this," rather then a life lived on stage. He puts these perfect questions in your mind that you have to answer about the character and he supports you in finding the answers—really lovely.

Yesterday we told each other our monologues, just sitting there talking to each other using the text. Great exercise in scale as well as really seeing if you can look someone in the eye and talk to them like it was the first time you were saying these words. Mark and Joan were wonderful, really taking this opportunity to break it apart. Joan is from NYC and is a member of the Actor's Studio (I googled her and then talked to her about it a bit) and you can really tell she is in her element in an exercise like this where you have to just drop it down into the belly and be real with it. We all had tears in our eyes as she was telling certain parts of the story and then she is also incredible funny—I think hearing an older woman swearing and saying exactly what she thinks is so refreshing. Outside of my own living granny who is the most real and amazing woman who doesn't put on airs or play the granny part whatsoever, you rarely see older women in our culture (TV and film come to mind...) who can be raunchy in language and very direct and jealous and sexy. Love that Joan.

Well, I will try to remember to blog more. I think I will bring the computer during tech. I always tell young actors when they ask me if they should go to LA or how it is working on camera, "If you like tech, you'll love film and television!" It seems like one big lighting set up—I am sure it gets better when you are Meryl Streep. Everything must be better when you are Meryl Streep...that might have to be a song title.

Rehearsal: An Actor's Blog

From actor Sarah Rudinoff, playing Minka Lupino in Murderers.

I am really excited to be starting rehearsal again. I haven't been in a play since I closed Wonderful Town at the 5th Ave. in May of 05. I took over a year off to get my real estate business off the ground and consistent, and after a lifetime of rehearsal clothes and Mondays off and vocal rest, I was driving around in my car and talking to people in escrow offices and holding the hands of clients and friends as they made this insane purchase or I am back to the rehearsal room and it certainly feels like the first days of school.

I have done solo shows before and the rehearsal process can be really daunting: no one to really bounce thoughts off of or shoot the shit with except for the director. Lines become not funny at about day 2 or 3...we are already there! You have this relationship with the director that is unlike a big old play with lots of people running around, they are the only ones you are performing to and for, then you realize- why am I performing? Just tell the story. It is a good reminder.

I remember my first solo show, written after I was already booked to tour it with Theater Simple to the Adelaide Festival in Australia, Broad Perspective (a title I had to come up with before I wrote the show...and soon hated...well actually I came up with Broad which I thought was a clever way of saying I was a woman while opening up the possibilities that the show could be about anything and since I hadn't written it yet, I wanted to give myself a long enough rope...) This title was nixed for being, well, too broad. I chose as my director someone who I worshiped but did not know very well- another interesting choice when I look back at it. Kevin Kent was about the smartest most unexpected performer I had seen and I knew he directed shows. So my early 20's self asked him for coffee, proposed the show and off we went. The first days of rehearsal were horrifying- I was a new writer- is he liking my work? Does he think this is funny? Also I was a new solo performer- was he supposed to laugh? Am I interesting enough to be watched and listened to for over an HOUR?! All in the basement of that building downtown by the market that used to house a movie theatre and a theatre space.

All of these thoughts were making me giggle at my younger self as I sat with a director I didn't know, the lovely Steven Dietz, (who is directing Murderers,) and began a process of unearthing a monologue. I must say that doing someone else's 17-page monologue, which I have never done before, is a lot better in some ways- none of the "why did I write that!?" If something is not working I think my mind can take a load off assured that it couldn't possibly be me.

I love the REP and am reminded what a good and gentle soul David Esbjornson is, and it is already a blast getting to be in an intimate cast, but having the enormous cast of Twelfe Night in the green room with us- including one of my nearest and dearest Nick Garrison who has directed me in solo shows, so I think I may be going to that well when I am in the tearing my hair out and why did I become an actor phase. Oh the angst.....

Mouth Harp

From Joanna Horowitz, Communications Associate

I was downstairs hanging the Twelfe Night lobby display and from the theatre I could hear Charles Legget playing the harmonica on stage. Harmonica is pretty much my favorite instrument, right before banjo, but perhaps after the keytar. I don't know exactly what part the harmonica plays in the show, but it sounded awesome.


I have a couple of minutes free, so I am going to pop into Twelfe Night tech. Tech (the technical rehearsals for a show, in which all of the lights, set, costumes, magical effects are put together) at the Rep is open to anyone who works here, but I usually wait until everything is put together before I see the show to, you know, save the theatre magic. But I sacrificed my savoring for you. Feel special.

Ok, so I am here, in the balcony. It appears nothing is happening. I think they're on a break. Just my luck. There are two guys, not actors, standing on stage. One offstage is operating an elevator that is raising and lowering a platform on stage. Ok, that's a little magical. One guy gets on the platform, which is exciting.

The set is spectatcular. It's reminicient of the hull of a ship, but it twists and rolls across the stage to the edge where it splinters off. Everything is blue and green.

Back from break. The stage manager asks the actors to get in position. The house lights go off and the lighting is suddenly a magnificant sunrise. Magic! The actor playing Sebastian does the end of a monologue. Olivia comes on in a giant purple dress. Fabian comes on in a leather skirt, black stockings and tiny black pumps. David, the director, asks Nick, playing Fabian: " How much traction do you have in those little pumps?"

My ten minutes are up. I have concluded: this show is going to be not your usual take on Shakespeare. And I have just remembered that I only have one week to find a dress for our black tie opening night party, so I better go. More soon.