One of the most challenging things in a rehearsal process is the transition from the exploration phase to the actual building of a show. In other words, at some point, we need to start making decisions as to what to do on the stage. There's almost always some kind of friction or confusion. It feels almost like a rite of passage. We need to acknowledge that it's a new level of creation.
In a conventional setting, there is a script based on which a director start staging a play. He or she analyzes the script, actors memorize lines, and the director tells them what to do and where to do on the stage. That's a standard way of making a play.
In this production at the moment, I function more or less as a director to the other performers since I've written the script and been leading the training sessions. And the main director Akira Hino is not here yet. But I try my best to make my role as open as possible for dialogue with other performers in every rehearsal. I give directions for them to have something to work from, but not to make the final decisions. I try to see what is happening on the stage in real time and discover things form it instead of imposing too much of my pre-planned visions on others. On a good day, I get new ideas I'd never thought of before by watching the things others are doing in rehearsal and start composing a scene on the spot. That's the kind of dialogue I enjoy and find most invigorating in rehearsal.
Today, after the Kyokotsu exercises, we did an exercise Akira Hino suggested. It was a simple task of singing together in a circle at the volume ranging from pianissimo to fortissimo. First we tried it with one song we all knew in common. Then we sang different songs at the same time. The point of this exercise is to differentiate each voice while singing. As it gets louder, it is hard to listen to each voice separately. So you need to listen very hard. What was so interesting about this was that listening with extreme attention made the atmosphere of singing concentrated and clear. Even when we were singing different songs simultaneously, cacophony felt rather "cohesive," if that makes any sense.
I've been repeating this over and over in this blog, but listening makes such a difference in the overall quality of a performance. I cannot stress it enough.
Then we moved onto scene work. This was where the process shifted from pure exploration to conscious decision making. Of course, it was not the final staging of the play. But it was definitely the start of searching for the common aesthetic framework in which we all could exist. We tried many possible spatial relationships and timing of lines and sound. Some worked well, some, not so much. I was aware of my responsibility as an intermediary director, which is such a balancing act between communicating my aesthetic visions, respecting Akira Hino's visions, and giving the performers room for exploration.
I enjoy it. It's not easy, and never will be. But I feel that I'm practicing what I need most as an artist.