A "two hander" — a play with two people. This is what I assume Director Maria Aitken means when she uses the term in rehearsal. Either that or she'd like both actors to always be cognizant of using both hands more. Or she believes it's a difficult play to direct and she will need both hands to manage. Perhaps even something more philosophical about two hands in a bush are worth more in a tree. I think it must be the first.
In this "two hander," set in the north of England, we've all come to learn the importance of the "Hot Pot of Coffee" sound when speaking — a very useful, yet sometimes confusing vocabulary term used by the dialect coach, Stephen Gabis. He uses the phrase to correct the short "o" vowel sounds necessary for our two wonderful actors, Andrew and Jane, to master . "Hutt Putt uh Cough-ee," or something like that. Yet, despite my urge to run across the street to grab another Starbucks, the company forges forward having staged the framework to Act I of this two-act two hander. (Say that ten times fast!)
We've already started incorporating props and some mock ups of costumes, which is necessary in a play where the longest break between scenes is thirty seconds. The company is keen on using every desk drawer, coat rack, filing cabinet, and pocket to hide and discard unwanted props and costume pieces. I almost wonder if this isn't a play in search of Waldo. Not Ralph Waldo — but I'm sure he's hidden in the stacks of books somewhere. I guess you'll have to come and see if you can find him for yourself!
So, what's next in the process? More blocking? Of course. Some self discovery? Maybe. Discovering the correlation between whiskey and Chekov? Definitely.
Willy Russell's Educating Rita, directed by Maria Aitken, plays March 11 — April 10, 2011 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston. For more information or to buy tickets, visit our website or call the Box Office at 617 266-0800.