From Marya Sea Kaminski, actress in The Road to Mecca
I spent some time in the blue room yesterday - the little alcove upstage that serves as Elsa's bedroom when she makes her visits to Miss Helen. We were teching (perfecting) the lights for one of the many big speeches in the play, and the actors were holding onstage. I happened to be in the blue room at that moment and sat down on the chenille comforter over the bed and had a small breath of a chance to take a good look around.
Candles with glaciers of wax drippings at their bases. A collection of thorny seashells across the upstage window, under the beaded mosaics of noonday suns. Figurines, mermaids, beads, glitter. So many tiny pieces placed so carefully by hand. "Elsa loves sleeping in this room," I thought, "I bet she dreams of the ocean and small treasures washed up on the shore when she falls asleep in this room."
Sometimes, when a show goes into technical rehearsals, I stop being able to actually see things for awhile. All of my focus is set on a rotating collection of balls to juggle - intention (why does she open her mouth in this moment?), listening (like I haven't already heard these words dozens of times), stage business (maybe if I loosen the buckle on my shoe by one knotch I'll be able to get it off faster during that first beat of dialogue).
Now that we've got a few previews under our belts, I can actually breathe on stage a little. And take a good look around. It's been a long time since I played on a set as inhabited as our world for The Road to Mecca. There are sweeping, gorgeous, glittering aspects to the set, which will be obvious (and maybe thrilling) at first glance, but the real life of this set is in the details. It feels like someplace I have lived in my life - with dishes in the sink and dust in the corners and small treasures stashed on shelves and pinned up on the walls. It is so complete.
It is so complete that it makes our jobs easier, as actors. This play is so much about relationships, and listening, and being present; living in such a meticulously detailed world allows that fiction to work on us, to envelope us even. Yes, there is a whole houseful of audience outside that fourth wall, but in here it is just us, and the tiny dusty details of our lives, and the crisis of this moment.