Actors moved into the theater on Wednesday night, for opening night a week from tonight. This is not a complicated show as far as lights and sound go, nor are the costume changes complex or numerous—in these respects The Crucible is exactly opposite The Laramie Project, the last show I did at RCP.
But the scene shifts are complicated. In the first act, we transition from a dumbshow prolog in the woods (not part of Miller's text) into Rev. Parris's house, and from there into John Proctor's house. These are done with lights dimmed and the big purple curtain (the grand drape) out. At intermission (behind the grand drape) we go into another forest scene (the short scene between John and Abigail Williams that Miller cut from the original production). Then two more changes within the second act: into the meetinghouse/courthouse and then into the jail.
We have a crew of about six on the deck: Rini, Bob, David H., Suzie, Rick, and Laura (ASM). The crew will handle most of the chores that involve swinging platforms into place and flying things—the forest is suggested by nifty hanging fabric panels, and the back walls by window units. So, even with this rather impressionistic set, there are still a lot of smaller pieces to bring on (chairs, benches, hand props), and that will be the job of the cast. I have an easy workload: a bench to bring into Parris's house, a table into Proctor's, and another bench to reposition as we go from meetinghouse to jail.
So we've spent Wednesday and Thursday rehearsing the scene shifts with work lights. Tonight we do it again with the theatrical lighting (and sound, I hope?). Then tomorrow we get our first complete technical run, start to finish.
We've run bits and pieces of scenes, so we can begin making blocking adjustments. The area between the two ranks of benches in the meetinghouse, where I more or less live for the duration of the scene, is a lot narrower side to side than it was when we worked in the rehearsal hall. I also need to work on sensing how much of the downstage area is lit: I move too far right and I'm standing in the dark.
We have a lot of cast members who are new to RCP, so I'm a resource for how we do things here—what's expected of actors when we strike the show, that sort of thing.
Justin (Rev. Hale) is probably the bigest cut-up in the cast. Definitely more so than June and Emily, our pre-teens. He's also very easy to tease—most gratifying. He's got something of the personality of a golden retriever. He's a good actor; he's young and tall and good-looking and (he claims) he was gawky and unpopular as a kid. Not the sort of guy you'd figure was expecting his first child, but there he was with the hard copy of the sonogram, interpreting those blurry features. We were hanging out stage left, waiting for something to happen, and David B. piped up. Now David B. is a study in contrasts: he's a soft-spoken transportation lawyer who looks more like a barista in Arlington somewhere. Anyway, in a sidearmed compliment, David B. said to Justin, "It's probably good that you're having a baby. That way you'll always have an audience." I high-fived David B.