Week One: In Which I Meet the Cast and Travel Approximately 9,000 Miles
Dear, um... ? What to call this... Okay, this is a Diary about a play about a Diary. I think I will call you... Meta Kitty? No--! Kitty 2.0.
Dear Kitty 2.0,
Where to start?! I’m so excited to be doing this play. If you could see me at this moment you might say, “Why, Molly, you don’t look excited,” but that’s only because I stumbled off a very turbulent red-eye from LA this morning and shuffled into my second day of rehearsal. Once there, though, I found myself to be completely re-energized by my castmates and the task at hand; finding and playing the intention of each line and clarifying the intimate moments we share with one another in our tiny community onstage. It’s the early-stage stuff, sure, but already my mind is racing [thank you, coffee] with ideas-- both of what might help inform my performance of Anne and what might inform you, Dear Reader, about our rehearsal process at large.
Lemme take you back in time [cue Twilight Zone music] to Tuesday, our first rehearsal. It was in Westport (all of our other rehearsals are taking place in NYC) and because of a project I’ve been working on in LA, I had to take a red-eye out Monday night. I landed at JFK and was taken to Westport where the kind folks at the theatre took in my sorry soul and let me take a shower and a nap in a dressing room. Lifesavers! We began the first day of rehearsal with the customary meet & greet-- smiling faces all around!-- and were shown the miniature model of our set. (Which I always love-- I was never into dollhouses as a girl, but gosh, set models deserve a museum all their own.) I won’t be giving too much away to say that one of the major challenges of this play, (at least in our production) is one that’ll be faced by designers, director, and cast alike: we can never leave the stage. How do we go on “living” in a space onstage, without pulling focus from the scene at hand? How and where will we go to change costumes? We shall see...!
Then we read through the script for the first time as a mostly complete cast; we have yet to meet our Miep and Mr. Krahler, as well as the actors playing the Nazis, simply because most of the play concerns the eight Annex inhabitants.
I cleared my throat and began the first line of the play, “July 6th, 1942. A few days ago, Father began to talk about going into hiding.”
“Slower,” said our director, Gerald. “As if you’re writing it!”
Okay. Slower. “July 6th... 19-42... A few days ago... Father began to talk abou--”
“Slower. Listen to what you’re saying.”
Embarrassed now. Slow. Verrrrry slowwwwly, nowww...
“Ju/ly 6th... Nine-teen-fourty-two. ...A few... days... ago, ...Father... began... to talk... about... going... into... hiding.”
And just like that, I remembered what it’s like to read-- really read-- a play. All summer I’ve been working on a film where I’m rushing my words, mumbling, dropping the ends of sentences-- speaking the way that I do, naturally, in 2010. As me. But now I’m Anne. I’m in 1942.
“No acting,” said Gerald. “Just read it. Relate to one another. Slow down.” The words began to come alive in a way I hadn’t heard them before. At first it feels tedious and unnatural. Who speaks this deliberately, let alone a teenage girl?! But then you feel the effects of it. It felt like going back to school-- giving a close reading analysis on a text. Anne had such an incredible vocabulary and lyrical style for someone of her age, and I think part of the challenge in playing her is to give those statements-- including the most poetic of the bunch-- their due weight, and never to deliver them as merely flighty musings of a young girl. I’ll be able to pick up my pace once I’m ready to. For now, it’s all about the words.
Newly inspired by our read-through, I hopped in a car, headed to the airport, and made my way back to LA. Twelve hours on the East Coast. What. A. Day.
PS. I’m breaking this entry up because I passed out with my computer on my lap the first time!