The astounding thing about the theatre is how it requires a level of excellence and precision equal to, if not greater than, film and TV — but it's live! A not-so-brilliant or original realization, I know, but one that needs restating as often as possible.
As the rehearsal process progresses I find it isn't just Rita who is gaining an education. Willy Russel has created a world in which education, teaching, and learning are extremely important but outside the confines of the script there is education being had. What I enjoy most about rehearsing a show is that there is an endless amount of things to be learned. Whether it's picking up a director's short hand, discovering the best way to block a show, or understanding the world of the play, theatre seems to be hinged upon the idea that there is always more to know.
In our show we've all gained a better understanding of the complexities of what constitutes an "English Man." Maria has informed us that "he" — the English man — sometimes hides himself and his true emotions by using humor and evasive tactics. From this definition I've started to consider myself "quite English." I still haven't quite conquered the accent but I am quite content with rainy days, The Canterbury Tales, and grabbing a lager at the local pub — I'm sure I'm not the only one. I've only made it to the surface of life in 1970's England but our cast has accomplished much much more — true experts!
On a completely different note — we've got shoes! Both Jane and Andrew (Rita and Frank, respectively) have received their "show shoes." A little thing to most but the more rehearsal time they have to break them in and make them comfortable the better. Jane has prove a master at the quick change. I've never met anyone who can take off a knee-high boot and replace it with a heel in five seconds flat. She must have no trouble getting ready in the morning. All the quick changes are made even easier by a few important zippers and snaps — all the doing of our amazing costume designer Nancy Brennan and her team.
Sooner than later (the end of this week!) we'll move from the rehearsal hall to the theatre. We tech the show, begin previews, then open! A bit of a whirlwind, no? Well, that's why we do theatre, isn't it? To share something, an idea, a story, even a bit of ourselves.
Such a philosopher am I! I blame Willy Russel!
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.