“I hear you worked the musical students pretty hard this weekend,” said Betty, an English teacher.
“They ain’t seen nothing yet,” said I to myself said I.
Things are really taking off at light speed with the production of Pippin here at Shantou University. This weekend was the first intensive round of blocking or staging with the cast where I begin crafting the movement on stage. I felt good getting through scene one, albeit a short scene, in its entirety and even moving on to scene two by Sunday. I had to force students to write down blocking notes in their scripts because I know they will forget over time. I feel a real mixture of emotion when directing. When I know what I am doing, the rehearsal flows well but sometimes I’m at a loss specifically of what to do, what skills to emphasize, which scenes to block, which numbers to review. I don’t have anyone to tell me how to fill in these mental gaps in my rehearsals.
I’ve officially turned over the chorus rehearsals to Liu Da Wei (the Chinese version of University High School band teacher Tim Price). He is not a choral teacher by heart so he struggles a lot of with the group. Then again, any choral instructor would struggle because the cast can not really sing. There are a few individuals that have good ears but the majority of the cast need a year or two in now-departed University High School chorus teacher Tim Krol‘s chorus. The boys especially need work as they are practically tone deaf (unable to match a pitch to one played for them). I’ve added a series of evening weekday rehearsals to supplement the weekend rehearsals. It was interesting to hear at least some progress Monday night as the students used the CD recordings of the show to help learn their parts. However, Tuesday night was rather abysmal when Mr. Liu’s computer didn’t work and the students had to sing on their own without a CD to back them up. I am worried about this portion of the show.
I watched the band rehearse today. My initial jubilation that the band could learn and play this show was much more subdued this time because three of the musicians were missing. The brass player, I am told cannot make any of the twice-a-week Wednesday or Saturday rehearsals. Plus, the director is taking cell phone calls and is interupted every five minutes.