Letters from the Rehearsal Room Part Four
Yesterday, we said goodbye to the rehearsal room in the Hamilton Family Arts Center and moved to the Haas stage. On our final night in the rehearsal room, drug we put all four acts together for the first time in what is called a “designer run, ” in which the play is performed for the costume, set, light, and sound, and video designers so they can start to figure out how they can best serve the production created. As the sun set and the sky outside the windows darkened, the characters exposed their raw emotions and rough edges to heartbreaking—and sometimes guffaw-inducing—effect.
One of the most exciting revelations from the designer run was the effect of the music the cast has been working on almost since day one. Under the guidance of composer James Sugg, they learned Russian folk songs, accompanying themselves on an orchestra’s worth of instruments. Among our actors we have a cellist, two guitarists, a bassist, an auto-harpist, a ukulelist, a flautist, and no less than three accordion players.
The music does more than just provide an excuse to work some Russian language into the performance. It provides a necessary release from the tension bubbling inside the characters, each a sleeping volcano, capable of eruption at any moment. The music also reminds the audience that Chekhov’s writing is itself a kind of symphony. Each character has their theme or motif—“I want to work,” “I love my wife,” “The future will be happy”—that floats in and out of the larger symphonic tapestry of the Prozorov home. There are crescendos and diminuendos, scherzos and solos. Some of them resolve, and some of them don’t, but like a great symphony, Three Sisters gives you a microcosm of the human experience so eloquently and beautifully that if you sit back and really listen, it will take your breath away.