The cast and crew of “The Cripple of Inishmaan” rehearsed on the finished stage in the Tornabene Theaterfor the first time on Thursday, Oct. 25 to get ready for opening night on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
For a little over a month, the University of Arizona cast had been rehearsing in room 0114 of the Drama Addition Building, while a team of students built the set. The actors had been blocking around make-shift props and elevations taped onto the floor. That Thursday, they were finally able to see the tape lifted off and the set come to life on the stage.
On the night of the first rehearsals, the cast was introduced to the set and taken around for a safety walk-through. The stage manager, Cole Rowerdink, and the Technical Director, Marli Ray, lead the cast around the stage, pointing out its features, so that the cast could learn how the set works and where their props were located.
The crew began assembling the set a little less than a week before the cast came in to rehearse.
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The three-layered shelf that housed a dozen or so cans of peas was transformed into a large shelf with over 140 cans.
The rotating stage that once had to be imagined is now there, and available for the crew to rotate when scene changes are necessary.
The eroding shoreline that Hank Stratton, the director, and Joe Klug, an assistant professor aiding in design, envisioned is now a physically tangible area.
The actors got in places for Act 1 Scene 1, with Rowerdink’s voice coming through the speakers and Stratton standing on his toes at the edge of the set, then they began the play.
“Wait, that doesn’t work,” Stratton said as he lifted off from his already perched position and walked on stage. “This is the part where they think I’ll finally leave them alone,” Stratton called to the crowd of donors. “In reality it’s where I really start micromanaging.”
The new set and the audience make no difference in the way the rehearsal is being run. Stratton’s creative process and witty on-the-spot remarks have remained the same. As he stated, if anything he has begun to hone in on the details.
This is the time where the actors really familiarize themselves with the space they will be using . They no longer have taped lines on the floor, but actual walls and elevations they have to work around.
A couple of scenes had to be reblocked to accommodate for the new space, and the actors played as big a role in that as the director himself.
“What if I do this?” an actor suggested.
“Well, I don’t know,” Stratton responded. “Here, let me see.”
The actor showed their idea and looked at Stratton’s eyes as he pursed his lips and watched the adjustment.
“Ohhh! Yes, that works, let’s keep it,” he said, as he turns to Rowerdink and saw his stage manager was already mid-way writing it down.
Rowerdink and his team now have linked headsets, so they can communicate around the set and theater.
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All the lines having been memorized already, the only thing still needing refinement was the Irish accent. If the actors caught themselves making miniscule mistakes, they would correct themselves on the spot.
Dylan Cotter, playing the role of Billy, made a mistake on the pronunciation of the word “Inishmaan” but caught himself and silently cursed his mistake while the rest of the cast nodded in encouragement of his correction.
A more noticeable adjustment to the accent occurred with the word “film” when used in the play. As Johnny Pateen, played by Peter Martineau, announced his “third piece of news!” he told the Osbourne sisters and Billy Claven that there was a “fillum” being “filllumed” in the neighboring island of Inishmore.
Kevin Black, the dialect coach, and the rest of the audience looked on, nodding their heads along with the intrigued aunties and Billy Claven.
The amount of time and effort that the students and professors have put into this show so far really shows in the performance, and it can only get better from now until opening night on Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
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