Assistant Directing Something Intangible – Part 2

April 3, 2009

By Matt Ocks: Assistant Director for Something Intangible

And then there’s that cast. In the roles of Tony and Dale Wiston, the Arden was smart enough to nab Scott Greer and Ian Peakes. Scott and Ian already are “brothers, ” even if they don’t have the same parents or the same last name, so we could skip the difficult step of having to construct that relationship between two strangers during rehearsals. The Wiston boys have been with us, and with each other, from day one.

Supporting Ian and Scott we have Sally Mercer as Dale’s trailblazing psychoanalyst, Sonia Feldman. Sally’s persevered through several different rehearsal chairs of varying comfort levels in our makeshift set. She’s also persevered through several different rehearsal candies (her character is a bit of a sweet tooth, even though she is not).Fortunately for Sally, Scott has generously stepped in to consume the candies she herself isn’t fond of. It’s saved us all a lot of heartache. No one wants to see Jolly Ranchers go to waste.

Rounding out the cast are Doug Hara and Walter Charles. I’ve seen Doug in several plays at the Arden, and have marveled at his physical prowess along with everyone else here. It’s been remarkable to watch him find not only the physicality but the emotional core of whiz kid animator Leo Baxter. Just the other night, sitting atop rehearsal cubes with a “do-for” whiskey bottle, he made a breakthrough in his big scene in Act 2, and I will not soon forget it.

One of my favorite rehearsal experiences to date was watching Walter Charles work with a dialect coach in preparation for his portrayal of the flamboyant – if a bit nefarious – German conductor Gustav Von Meyerhoff. Walter walked into the Arden conference room with a mental sketch for this character. He came back out an hour later with a fully fleshed out portrayal of a truly Teutonic tyrant.I cannot wait for our audiences to hear how he pronounces the word “quibbles.”

And as for our director – the captain of the ship, the leader of the pack – what makes Terry Nolen so brilliant is…well…Something Intangible. I’m not sure what to say about him, but I’ll give it a try. He is by turns loud and quiet, public and private, spontaneous and prepared. He is a drill sergeant and a cheerleader. And he is Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try” in Terry Nolen rehearsals. I remain in awe.

And finally, I will write on this blog about Stage Management, because no one ever does. As much as everyone else I’ve just written about does, Stephanie Cook and Gary Thayer do ten times more. They record the blocking, they keep track of all the props, they make haircut appointments and schedule tanning sessions. They are the first to arrive and the last to depart, and that’ll be true every day for the next 9 weeks of performances. Fortunately for all of us, Stephanie and Gary were both born on Planet Krypton. They have x-ray vision and are impervious to physical pain, not to mention ribbing from knucklehead actors.

Check back tomorrow for Matt’s final post before previews begin on Thursday!

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