Just when you think a play can't possibly get anymore hectic and tiring, the director does something like this to you. Yes, it may help us learn our lines, and yes, it may even help us learn when to deliver said lines, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that for an exhausted group of actors whose lives until now have been nothing but this one play, pulling a stunt like is completely, utterly, uncalled for, inhumane, and quite possibly sadistic.
What I mean of course is a double time rehearsal.
For those of you who don't know what that is, a double time rehearsal is basically what it says on the tin, a rehearsal done in double time. Every action, every entrance, and of course, every line, has to be done with twice as much speed as normal. For example, if your cue is to walk leisurely on stage, say your line, raise an eyebrow or something and then walk off, in double time you would instead run on stage somewhat manically, say your line with the speed of a commercial salesperson on a sugar high, maybe get a quick eyebrow raise in, and then run off.
Act One of "While the Lights Were Out" is by far the most boring act in the show. For those of you planning on coming (God or whoever help you) I promise you, it gets better. I spend most of the act either standing or sitting around with a notepad watching people. Since the majority of the actors are incredibly bored with said first act, we've sort of let it...slip, I guess you could say. Cues weren't going quick enough, lines were getting mixed up, and above all else, our energy just wasn't there.
So to remedy this, thank you our kind and thoughtful director, the director announced at the beginning of rehearsal "Act One, double time" and immediately, everyone groaned. Actually, I can't really say groan, these were actors we're talking about, it was far more dramatic than that, I just can't find the right word. I'll have to raid a thesaurus later...
Anyway, the point is, while a double time rehearsal is a helpful, reflex testing exercise, I have doubts as to whether it's fully legal in all 50 states. I enter with DI Benjamin Braddock (that's the character's name, not the actor) at the beginning of the act and then have one line before we sit down...we did that stupid entrance over six times. At one point, I entered running and then just laughed and walked right back off again, not even attempting to say the line. The added twist was that every time we got something wrong, we had to go all the way back to the last entrance. It took us two hours to get through a half-hour act.
All in all though, looking back, the double time rehearsal was actually a lot of fun. It's always interesting doing scenes in different ways, plus the whole "talk really fast" thing is usually really fun. In double time, because we moved so fast and didn't really have time to worry about anything other than the lines, people did all sorts of random, funny things on stage. Two people entered playing pattie-cake, several people sang the word "mistake" in three part harmony (we were into six-part at one point...during break I think...) one person came on wearing funny glasses and big nose just to make people laugh. It was probably one of the best rehearsals. Despite leaving most of us completely and utterly exhausted.
So, legal or not, humane or sadistic, the double time rehearsal really was a lot of fun. I suppose it just goes to show you though, as long as I'm on a stage, I'm happy no matter what I'm doing. Much as I complain about things, I don't think there's been a single rehearsal I haven't liked going to. Even the ones where all I got to do was stand there, I enjoyed it anyway. Doubly so today.
Double time, guys.
P.S. - The Game.