Tuesday, May 14, 2013

39 Steps Rehearsal


Back in January at a Florida Creative's happy hour, I first found out that Ryan Price was planning to produce a Fringe play built around "The 39 Steps" a 1915  adventure novel written by John Buchan. It was later adopted by Alfred Hitchcock in a 1935 film. Becky Lane is directing this adaptation in which every show will be improvised based on audience suggestions. In early rehearsals Becky told me that the cast did view point sessions in which the actors walked an imaginary grid and worked as a group becoming a cohesive cast.

This Invisible Frisbee Productions rehearsal was held in a Winter Garden warehouse just two days before Fringe opened. A huge ventilation fan moved the humid air. A tarp was put on the floor because in one scene there is a murder and they didn't want the corpse to have to lie in saw dust or metal filings. In this rehearsal the cast of four went over the introduction and the sequence of events that were needed to get the audience feedback. Since I was essentially an audience of one, Becky had me fill out eight chalkboards with answers to two questions. One question was to write down a job of someone in my party that was suspicious. I've found people to be suspicious of artists so that was my first answer, the others that I recall were a teacher and mailman. The other question involved picking a character trait of someone in your party that they are proud of and then write down the opposite. I recall writing excitable, angry and sloth. Those chalk boards were hung on the front of the boxes and helped defined the backgrounds and personalities the characters.

My other responsibility was to hand out playing cards that each character picked to choose their roll in the comedic drama. Max Hilend, the wild card, was hilarious as a lazy sloth of an artist. He spoke slowly with little to no enthusiasm. He discussed the one painting he does a year, and even the cast was laughing, and peaking at the words that defined his character. Nadia Garzon with a red rose in her hair was funny and entertaining as a high strung excitable art teacher. I decided she had to be the lead character, Hannay, based on her hilarious performance. Megan Borkes was a disgruntled spy and in a scene with Nadia, the two played off each other wonderfully. The villain was the black bearded Christian Cheker in his black shirt and military cargo pants. To me these roles seemed predestined. It is exciting watching the scenes unfold with the even actors not knowing what would come next.

The sets were defined with the boxes rearranged in each scene as chairs as well as a table, ladder and a window on a tripod. Nadia stayed in character as Hannay and had me laughing consistently with her innocent enthusiasm and endless curiosity. I glanced over to see the director, Becky, laughing out loud as well. It was such a delight to know that this performance was unique and as an audience member, I helped mold the performances. As Hannay was entertaining the spy in her home, Max opened the window and blew a dart into the spy's neck. That sudden murder changed Hannay's fate, forcing her to follow through on the spy's mission, now being accused of murder, and on the run from police and the villain who was easily identifiable because of a unique, sometimes rude feature picked by the audience.

The cast took me on an amazing playful ride while asking me to suspend disbelief and fill in what was needed with my imagination. Be sure to check out this show at Fringe, your experience will be new and completely unique. It is theater in its truest form with murder, intrigue and plenty of laughs and unexpected turns.

Where: The Pink Venue

Tickets: $11 along with your Fringe button.

When:
Thursday May 16, 2013 at 6:00PM
Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:45PM
Sunday May 19, 2013 at 11:15AM
Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 11:15PM
Wednesday May 22, 2013 at 9:30PM
Saturday May 25, 2013 at 4:30PM
Sunday May 26, 2013 at 2:45PM

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