"This is appalling, I simply don't understand. Your assistant just told me that my husband has been killed."
And so begins my part in the upcoming Yorkshire Playhouse production of Busybody by Jack Popplewell. Yes, I play the "alleged" widow in the show when my husband's body, slumped over his office chair with a letter opener in his back, is found by the cleaning lady...I say alleged widow, because, well, soon after Mrs. Piper finds the body, it disappears.
This is a murder mystery...but part of the mystery is trying to figure out who was actually killed, let alone whodunnit.
My character turns out to have a few reasons why she might benefit from the death of her husband...pretty much everybody in the show has motive, and no one has an ironclad alibi. Of course!
"This is appalling! I simply don't understand. Your assistant just told me...your assistant just told me...um? Line, please!”
“Your assistant just told me that...um... Line, please?”
Ok. “Your assistant just told me that my husband…” Egads Why can't I remember? Line, please.
"Has been killed."
Ok. Sigh. "This is appalling, I simply don't understand. Your assistant just told me that my husband has been killed." Yay! Brief celebration. But now, the next line...please.
The conversation above is what happens during rehearsal when we--okay when I am trying to learn my lines. There are three stages of learning your lines, they are called Blocking, Off Book: Lines Called and Off Book: No Lines Called.
Blocking is when all of the actors have their scripts with them on stage, and the director tells each actor where they want them to move when they are saying their fines. Each actor writes the movements in their script, in pencil. Always use a pencil, because there is a pretty good chance that the director will see something that they want to change, and then you have to write the new blocking in the script. While Blocking is being done, the actors are reading their lines right out of the script. Sometimes there will be somebody that memorizes some of their part during that time. We are usually not very nice to that show off (No, not really. We are just jealous.)
The director says, "On this date you will need to have your lines learned, but we will help you if you need it." This is known as Off Book: Lines Called. This is what was happening a few paragraphs ago. The actor gets lost, the line feeder gives them a word or two to get them back on track. Sometimes the line feeder has to say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! What just happened? Start over!"
The last phase is Off Book: No Lines Called. This is like the way my Dad taught me how to swim by throwing me off the dock. You are on your own. Goof up? Figure your way out of it. The idea is to terrify us enough to get us to learn our lines so that disaster doesn't happen when we actually have an audience.
I recently saw a picture of an iceberg. It showed the part of the iceberg that emerges from the water, which appears to be pretty huge and impressive, and is also showed the part of the iceberg that is beneath the water, the part that nobody sees. The part below the water line was way bigger than the part of the iceberg that is visible. The caption on the picture had the part above the water labeled as "The Show." The part below the water line was labeled "Rehearsal." The iceberg won't last long if it doesn't have a pretty sturdy foundation underneath it; in the same way our play won't be very impressive if we don't have a sturdy foundation of rehearsal underneath it.
We have lots of great people involved in this show. Some of whom you may be related to, or are friends with, or wish you were related to, or wish you were friends with, Kelly Widger plays the Busybody, Mrs. Piper. Cheryl Ratliff is the main cop, Detective Superintendent Baxter. She is assisted by Danielle Deal, playing Detective Constable Goddard. Will Wilton is Robert Westerby, the young accountant, Courtney Kinneson is Vickie Reynolds, the typist. Amanda Prellwitz is Marian Selby, the personal secretary. Let's see who am I missing? Oh, Richard Marshall, my husband in the play, is played by Stephen Postier, and I am playing Claire Marshall. think that's everybody on stage. The director is Emily Peterson, assisted by Amy Hellerich. Theresa Christiansen is running the lights and sound.
Amazingly, our Director, Emily, the assistant director Amy, and the lights and sound technician Theresa, were working late in the theatre one night when they found a bottle amongst the props in the basement. Amy rubbed the bottle and a genie pops out. True story, "Since you all found me," he says, "you each get one wish." Amy says, "I'd like a million dollars and to be seated front and center at Hamilton in New York." POOF Amy was gone. Theresa steps up and says, "Well, if she can have that, I'd like ten million dollars, and to be on my own private island, with lots of people waiting on me." POOF. Theresa was gone. Emily steps up and says, "Yeah, well, I'd like them both back in ten minutes."
Yep, that's how it works.
I read somewhere that without directors, lighting designers, sound technicians, costumers, make up people, stage managers, box office people, board members, administrators and audience, actors would just be standing around all by themselves in the dark.
Which brings me to another kind of line, please! Don't leave us standing around in the dark. We need all of you to form a line, please, to make reservations and purchase tickets to attend our production of “Busybody” by Jack Popplewell. Opening night is Thursday September 28, and we run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2:00 for two weekends. If you wake up on October 9 and haven't seen it yet, you have missed it
You can make reservations by calling 402-362-7060, emailing the playhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Website www.yorkshireplayhouse.com. Reservations are recommended, but not required, walk ins are welcome and encouraged!
Line, please! We appreciate it.
This post was written by Karla Ott.