Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
I’ve never attended, nor been a part of, a rehearsal quite like the one I just witnessed for Man and Superman. As it was described by the Stage Manager Zoe Feezor, we were in “The Space” which turned out to be a much more open and free experience than our other observations. Leaving was permitted at any time so long as there were no disruptions from what was taking place. At the beginning of the rehearsal, Zoe led the cast around the set to show all of the changes that had been made recently as well as the full scope of the space provided both in front and behind the set. As this was taking place, designers were coming in and out to test different set props and pieces to get a sense of color coordination and put in real life the elements they had been discussing during the production meetings. For example, one large dark patterned rug was thrown in to the space and despite looking appealing, there were quiet discussions of the two other options that were possible in its place. Seeing this helped me to realize that it’s alright to explore other options, even when the first one seems to fit. The second or third could stand out as superior to the first. But if time isn’t allowed during the rehearsal process to explore this, then the show has a chance of not reaching its fullest potential.
The environment was a large departure from the other set before it for The Divine Sister and The Understudy. This time around, it did a remarkable job of opening up the space and making it feel larger, our main desk surrounded by four wine colored chairs fully encompassed within the semi octagonal structure of tall very plain walls. On the desk sit an inkwell, a bell, papers and a book. Also within the acting space are two pedestals, each complete with their own vases and glasses for drinks. During this rehearsal, the actors were not stuck back stage when waiting for their cues and rather sat with the audience to observe the action currently taking place. Everyone was sporting some kind of clothing piece for use in rehearsal, the men either in white, grey or black sports coats and the women wearing their tight corsets. To the future productions that I will be a part of, I can expect something similar to take place as it’s a good practice to get a feel for the restrictions of the period’s attire to let it flavor your movement choices while on stage. On that note, some characters were far more vibrant in their motions than others, and because of this there was lots of pacing and counter crossing that didn’t necessarily feel fully blocked out but rather seemed loosely up to the actor’s interpretation to vary from night to night, so long as he was able to hit important marks at specific places notated in the script. Lani Harris, the show’s director, also had a different approach to giving notes and directing the scenes. There were hardly any moments during rehearsal in which she stopped what was taking place to give immediate notes, instead waiting for a break in the lines or when an actor had a specific question about timing or spacing issues. When something came up that could not be answered simply, she would stand and approach the actors to demonstrate the sequence for them, assuming the roles of their characters to give the actor a sense of what her vision was. I do find this technique appealing as it’s the way I would direct, my basis for theatre being in acting, so a strong need to demonstrate presents itself over anything else. I can see myself performing it and that is where the vision stems from on most occasions when I do direct.
Overall, Man and Superman seems to be shaping up to be a fine take on the old play, done in UCF’s unique style and attention to detail. It is exciting to know that in just a week’s time there will be the first performance taking place, where the culmination of their efforts shall be on display.