Halloween. The Americanisation continues. I arrive late (relationship crisis and the clocks going back) and the group are going through the lines round the table. Alan is back at the hospital - he’s had an MR scan and is waiting to be discharged - which might take some hours. We feel the pinch of time - a little worm of fear (to paraphrase a line in the play); are we on track or have the strange-days of Alan’s hospital stay thrown us a bit? I’m always amazed how fragile theatre rehearsals are. Theatre folk are a superstitious bunch (dancers too?). If you don’t do things a certain way it’ll all go wrong. But what’s the right way?
We go through the script, today concentrating on getting the lines right - and there are a lot of lines to be learned. Andrew nudges and fine-tunes our renderings, giving clarification and frameworks for how the characters can (should) sound. I’m glad for this time. My main character - I am loosely basing her on Nancy Reagan. I watched Ronald Reagan’s funeral on YouTube last night. It took place on the edge of a desert valley in California, in the late afternoon sun. Nancy was devastated. Truly grieving her life partner. It’s always weird when a public figure one has disliked intensely shows themselves to be ... . vulnerable.
Another line in the play: ”Brangelina and peanut butter candy - thank god!”
We discuss whether Brangelina is now a redundant concept because of the split ... should another celebrity couple replace them in the play? Of course not. Although the conversation leads to another A&A exchange:
Andrew: Who’s the pirate-faced one who looks like an old lesbian?
Anton: Johnny Depp?
Andrew: Johnny Depp!
We discuss whether the phrase ‘old lesbian’ is pejorative. I think it is, but it’s also funny, and recognisable. We also discuss freedom of speech and the rights of novelty bakers: should they be taken to court if they refuse to make a cake a) celebrating same sex marriage / b) depicting the prophet Mohamed: discuss.
After lunch we sit in the rehearsal room looking at the L’s. They stand silent and sentinel, perfectly lined up, symmetrical and elegant. We don’t want to stage anything ... perhaps we’re hesitant because Alan’s not here? I know I am. Instead we work on moving them, one at a time, seeing if they can be manipulated by only one person; They are extremely heavy and the point of gravity is tricky. It’s a phenomenal workout. We test out whether there is an ‘off stage’ area, or whether all the stage is live throughout - even the shadows at the side walls of the theatre. It’s always a big choice - to leave or not leave the stage during the play.
Alan comes in the afternoon and we stage the first few scenes. He is leaving for Vienna for a 72 hours, so tomorrow we will run the scenes with the blocking and continue polishing the lines.
Alan sends a tender email to us from the airport:
I love you all very much. Please take care when you rehearse this last day without me that you don't over do it - (in the sense of dry-humping, if you know what I mean). Then better throw yourself into something, or cut the day short so we can all be charged and ready for Wednesday. Committing the lines to mind and heart is of course always the great help.
They say there will be snow in a few days. There’s a melancholy in the air. And I notice we don’t mention Trump at all these days. Strange times.