Playing notes: Dress 2

Tonight was a night of fix-ups all round for the Cabaret kinder; there are always final tweaks as the creative team finesse the show: lights, sound, cues, costume. We spent 20 mins or so pre-show reworking the blocking for a couple of exits. There were also acting notes from last night’s run. There are also more costume pieces appearing in the dressing room; still don’t have my slippers or glasses though. Need these for tomorrow night; it’s not a good idea to use a prop for the first time on opening night, though it’s been done before!

Personally I scored half a page of acting notes from the director. I had let it rip last night in terms of playing the ‘arc’ of the story for my character from whoa to go; it felt generally pretty good … not indulgent in any sense, and I had a sense that ‘she’ had arrived. The relationships between my character and others in the play have also developed well I think; the songs are working fine … but of course, the director or the ideal audience of one sees what I can’t see, and is there precisely to help me to craft my role in the service of the play.

Apparently during last night’s run, the emotional tone of some of my scenes had veered away from the intensity the director wants me to play. In a sense, Fraulein Schneider is one of the moral barometers of the narrative and a driver of the descent into chaos which is Act 2. It’s critical that her persona, her story and her energy fit the overall story at the right time, and in the right way.

So tonight’s run for me was about reworking a couple of scenes in particular on the fly, changing energy levels, and getting the good Fraulein back on track. With this concentration on the director’s notes, I was a beat ahead or behind myself all night long … observing, adjusting. Had a ghastly slip up in the final big solo song which was being taken at a faster pace. I leaped into the wrong lyrics, and got myself tangled up. I was rescued by the brilliant conductor of course, but it was a scare nonetheless. Guess I won’t make that one again!

Playing notes, whilst vital to the health of the show, can be a distraction, an irritation, and an unsatisfying experience for the actor. Tonight was one of those for me; it’s far nicer to be ‘on song’ and just playing, but of course, that can’t happen until the tiny pieces that make up the production are all in the right place.

And the verdict at night’s end from the director? Our overall performance was ‘good but uneven.’ Aha! Notes tomorrow evening before the final dress rehearsal. 2 days to go!

Author: Kate Wilson

Actor, director, teacher, dabbler with paint, serial traveller.

1 thought on “Playing notes: Dress 2”

  1. So, “Good but uneven”, eh? Watched Act I last night and I thought that Fraulein Schneider looked, sounded and moved beautifully….lots of excellent “reactive depth”, absolutely right for the character and decade. “So What…” was the best thing in the Act and set a standard for others to follow…….and they must! It’s a very difficult setting to work in and it must be a huge challenge for actors born long after you…and me….to “feel the threat” of those times. I got goose bumps as Act 1 closed…..I shall look forward to the spectacles, and the audience tensions as the show ends……

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