Eight Hours Beneath the Basketball Hoops

by on November 20, 2011 » Add more comments.

Chorus members line up to carry props from the rental truck into the gym. Photo: Helen Fields

As the fall goes on, rehearsal starts taking up more time and more space. This weekend we have two all-day rehearsals at a school in Bethesda. Saturday there were props. Today there will be costumes. There are musicians wielding brass instruments. There are musicians wielding every other kind of instrument, too. And apparently we’re going to perform this show in two weeks in front of a paying audience, so Saturday seemed like a good time for the directors tell us where to stand for the second half of the show.

So we spent all day Saturday under fluorescent lights in a gym, walking through the second part of the show. Lines on the floor corresponded to the borders of the Lisner Auditorium stage. We got a bit of music practice with the brass quintet and Trio Sefardi. I used to find these all-day blocking rehearsals exhausting, but I’ve learned over the years when I need to pay attention and when I can zone out. I impressed one of the new people with my ability to knit whenever there was a break in the action.

I made a lot of progress on this baby sweater today. Photo: Helen Fields

One of the teenagers got excited this morning when she heard I was writing a blog and said I should do it Gossip Girl-style. Me: “I heard a rumor that someone hasn’t memorized all her lyrics yet.” Her: “Is it…95 percent of the chorus?”

I think most of us know most of the lyrics already, and I know I’ll have it all down by the time the show opens (hopefully earlier). But the lyrics don’t really get solidified in my head until I put my notebook down, walk around, and sing the songs as if we were on stage. With more than 40 hours of rehearsal in the next two weeks, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that.

Makeup designer Roger Riggle saw everyone on Saturday to match their skin tone with foundation. Photo: Helen Fields

Today we’re back for another six hours in the gym. It’ll be our first time running the whole show, our first time rehearsing in costume–and our first rehearsal “off book.” That means the notebook, with my script and music, stays in my backpack. Yikes. I’ll be spending the morning transferring all of my blocking notes onto a piece of paper and copying the lyrics I’m not totally sure about onto index cards. Then I just have to confront the reality of a day where I’m reliant on pieces of paper and wearing lovely white robes…with no pockets.

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