Tag Archive: Rehearsal

Dec 01

Back in K-S

That’s right, we were back in the space in Kanagawa-Shinmachi last night for our rehearsal.


I’ve been waffling on several things recently. Will we have some kind of showcase/presentation this calendar year? If we do, what will the content be? How much should that content be prepared and polished?


At the moment, I’m trying to figure out a way we can do a showcase for invited guests in the final few days of December. That means I’ve got to deal with venue and content.


For venue, we will probably rent the Kanagawa-Shinmachi space for the day.


For content, well, nothing’s ready just yet. The Elements piece is a no-go. For one thing, we haven’t had the whole group together for a long time now, and for another, the group needs a lot more training (probably guest training; I don’t really have the skills to train actors for physical Theatre) before that piece becomes do-able. We’ve started working on people’s personal stories, and have started running some improvs and Object Exercises in order to support them.In this rehearsal improv, Mari Kawamura enters her room to find it in a shambles.


I was doing the “Three Entrances” exercise with Mayu (just one entrance, though), to create the environment of her shared house in England—a location that features prominently into the story she wishes to tell.


Working on that showed me that, really, I need everyone in the group to do this exercise, so I’ll be assigning it one by one.


We then moved on to an improvisation in which Mari and Mayu dealt with the question of how to deal with a slob roommate.


It was a good evening of rehearsal. We got back to what, to me, were basics, but to them were new ideas. It showed me more clearly that with group being small these days, maybe it’s these things that I should be working on. It will be good practice for me, too, since I hope to be teaching all this stuff in the new year.

Nov 24

Rehearsal Space Woes

I’m sitting in a tatami room at the Katakuracho Kumin center, waiting for Mari and Takahiko to show up. Hiraku is on sabbatical until the two shows he’s committed to are over (my suggestion, since he was starting to look like he was operating on no sleep); Mayu is on training for work this week; and Saori has started additional classes on top of her work schedule.


Mari is later than usual because she’s just taken on an extra contract job.2011-11-24 19.06.08


When I got to the space, I thought we had the whole room. I was rather surprised to find two obaasan fussing around inside it after I came back from the toilets. They were using the sliding doors in the space to section off a square part of the room.

Then one of them started asking me if our group was going to make loud noises and could we not, please, because they were doing yoga. Huh? I informed her that we would do our best, but that this was Theatre, and that we were rehearsing, and I couldn’t make any guarantees. I’d told her we’d try, but we would have to at least speak at normal conversational tones.


This once again serves to illustrate the problem with not having a proper venue. It’s not simply the cost of renting spaces that is the problem: it’s the inflexibility of said spaces, and their unsuitability for Theatre rehearsals.


I contacted the real estate agent managing the building at Kanagawa-Shinmachi that we’ve occasionally worked in, courtesy another Theatre group. I once asked one of the guys in that Theatre group how much it cost to rent per month, and he told me 180,000. I thought about it later and realized I must have misheard him. He must have said 80,000. The building is so decrepit, and it’s totally unoccupied except for that group, that the number couldn’t be right.


It was. The next smallest room, at 43 square meters, would have cost us 230,000. The agent, very kindly, offered to bring it down to 200,000. I told him that he could call me when the owner was serious about actually having tenants. The agent told me that we were unlikely to do better. He may be right, but we simply couldn’t afford that. Even with the Theatre school running at full tilt, 230,000 yen would be pushing it. It might be doable if we were in downtown Tokyo and could rent the space out to other groups the way my friends at the Our Space rehearsal lounge do. But not at some po-dunk station halfway between Kawasaki and Yokohama, and not in a building in that condition. This is evidenced by the fact that we appear to be the only Theatre company that sublets from the group already renting the space there and the fact that the small amount they charge us in no way covers their costs.


If anyone has any suggestions about where to look next, I’m all ears. Next week, I will be visiting the Yokohama Arts Council to see if they have space tucked away somewhere, but I’m not terribly hopeful. What I really need is a private landlord whose sense of pride isn’t so bloated that he’d rather make 0 Yen rather than 30,000 Yen while he holds out for bubble-era prices.


As for today… I expect either Takahiko or Mari to show up any minute. Maybe we’ll do some quiet voice exercises or something. I might take some time and force them to write their biographies for the web site. Hmm….

Nov 10

A Change of Plan and a Creepy School

I’m quickly rushing to type this off before heading to tonight’s  rehearsal.


Last night, we met at Nippa (新羽) station on the Yokohama Blue Line and proceeding to walk to our rehearsal space. This was another new one for us, and it was about a 7 minute walk through darkened streets.


When we arrived, we weren’t sure we had the right place. There was a sign, but it wasn’t lit. There was no lighting on the path leading up to what appeared to be the main lobby. There was only dim light coming out from inside the glass-enclosed lobby area.


Nonetheless, there appeared to be no other way in, so we approached. As we looked in from outside, we saw a man in a yellow vest vacuuming the floor. Were they closing at 18:45?! Mayu thought for a minute that maybe this was a hospital, and not a Kumin Centre.


We went in and it turns out everything was fine, although we had to complete about five minutes of paperwork to register YTG with the place. After that, the old man behind the desk led us through the darkened building, up a flight of stairs, through a library (!) and into the “playroom".


What a great space. The room was huge. Half of it was a waxed hardwood floor, and the other half was dojo-style tatami (sprung tatami, I guess you’d call it). On top of that, the rent was only 450 yen, making it the cheapest space we’ve worked in so far.


The drawbacks: like all Yokohama city Kumin centres, they close at 21:00. And they are very anal about getting you out of the building BEFORE that (they start playing incessant music and making loud PA announcements from 20:45 on). We were out of the building at 20:59 by their own clock, and we still got scolded! Also, you can only book this room twice in any given month.


Enough about the space… what did we do?


Due to sickness and inflexible job schedules, we won’t have the whole group together again, so rather than work on any of the group elements pieces, we instead worked on a improv that we’d started on Monday as a joke: a re-enactment of trying to get a room that we’d paid for without the receipt. We focused on objectives and tactics work, and are now in the process of stripping the Tatemae off the characters without turning them into caricatures. That is the work that we’ll continue tonight.


Okay… off to rehearsal!

Nov 03

Tartuffe–4th Rehearsal

I’m constantly amazed by what a good group we’ve assembled for this show.  I’ve got a huge mix of people with lots of experience, and people with almost none, and they’re working very well together.


I’ve heard from several people now that they’re still panicked about not having a script yet, so I gave another talk tonight, emphasizing that I’m not fiddling while Rome burns, but that even if we were working from a finished script, I’d rather not have given it to them at this point anyway.  I don’t want people memorizing lines yet.  This is a play, and we need to learn how to play together.


I would rather have a show with a few line flubs, where the actors know who they are, and what they’re doing, and what’s happening next, and in which they totally have bought in the world of the play, than a show in which people have memorized lines and are just marking things through.  I think, if compared side-by-side, this is what an audience would prefer as well.


After having said that, we continued the tactics/objectives work we started yesterday, and then moved into a Meisner exercise, courtesy of Jon Reimer (who teaches this stuff: http://tokyoplayers.org/?lang=1&page=58&mode=detail&event=38 If you’re in Tokyo, take his classes!), which deals with truth in acting.


I think his exercises clearly showed the idea that in truthful acting, emotion is a by-product of action.  (And yes!  This even applies to “stylized” acting, which is the same as “normal” acting, except that the rules of the world are different!)  This is really important to the framing section of our play (called the “1941 section”), because we’re striving for naturalism (although, of course, the stakes are high enough that people can be reasonably big without blowing the audience’s acceptance of the situation), and really don’t want to end up with anything that looks like self-conscious acting… or what my first acting teacher called “shmackting”.


Actually, that whole attitude is summed up by a story told to me by the great and intense Canadian director Paul Lambert.  I may get details of this wrong, but the point is the same:


One night, a relatively famous director who was guesting at the National Theatre School  was holding court in a bar.  All the young acting students were there asking him question after question.  After a long evening of this, and a perhaps particularly obtuse question from a first year, the director took a drag on his cigarette, and a sip from his full-to-the-brim pint of Carlsberg.  After he put the glass down, after seeming to consider the whole evening worth of questions, he said simply: “Just be there.  Fuck!”


Best advice for actors I’ve ever heard.  I wish this was my story.


Just be there.  Fuck


I believe that all the actors I’ve assembled for this show can be there.


Damn!  This show is going to be fantastic!