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28 October 2005
Watching Mark Ravenhill direct, I decided, was like watching a sculptor turn a huge block of marble into a beautiful, finely finished piece of art.
At least that's the theme of what will be my article, as soon as I get it written.
I attended a rehearsal of the upcoming plays Nursery / School, the plays for which I was interviewing Ravenhill the day I had cheese on my chin.
At the conclusion of our interview, I told him that I would be at the photo shoot on Thursday evening.
Thursday evening, Walt arrived home from work. I had put a couple of pork chops with rice in the oven and was settling back to watch Jeopardy, which was about to start when suddenly I shot up and yelled "SHIT!," scaring Walt out of his wits.
It was 6:20 and the photo shoot was scheduled to start at 6 and I had completely forgotten.
I got in the car and raced up to campus. At the parking lot was an attendant who was there telling people that the machine where you buy tickets was broken and sending us to the other side of campus to get a ticket. I wailed that I was already late and that I was from the newspaper.
"OK," she said. "Leave your business card on the dashboard and go on."
Well, therein lies the problem. Since I'm a part-time employee, I'm not really on the staff of the paper, so I don't have business cards. There was nothing for it. I had to go to the other parking lot.
Only, when I got to that machine, I tried three different credit cards and it rejected each one of them. I finally decided I'd just risk getting a parking ticket because I was now very late.
I went back to the first lot, reported the second broken machine and started to leave a note on the dashboard, but it turned out that the parking lot attendant (the one who gives the parking tickets) had just come by and she gave me permission to leave my car, so I did and waddled over to the drama building.
I made it for the very end of the photo shoot, but then stayed for the first hour and a half of rehearsal.
This was for the play, Nursery, written by Julia Jarcho, which is story (I gather) similar to the Columbine case, though involving only one shooter. I only saw the end of the play, rehearsed several times, but I was amazingly impressed watching Mark Ravenhill at work.
I came up with the sculptor analogy after I'd seen an impassioned monologue delivered by one of the actresses, describing how the murders had happened. She put her heart and soul into it and it was an effective piece.
Then Mark took her aside and spoke with her for a very long time. She came back and did it again.
This time the delivery was completely different. Not quite as hystrionic, more conversational, with emphasis on certain points rather than the entire thing. The difference between the two deliveries was striking and it made me see what a good director really does.
Over and over again, I watched Mark allow the actors to sculpt their own character in the various situations, and then take them aside to question them about their character, to give some suggestions about what the character might be thinking and how he might react.
Each time, the actor came back with another piece of his delivery finely honed.
I've watched lots of directors work with lots of actors over the years, but have never seen quite the clearcut change in response the way I did last night.
So this is going to be a fun article to write (I hope), as I transcribe the interviews and see how I can sculpt my own work into a finely finished piece of verbal art.
Somehow, I suspect it won't be with quite the level of finesse of
PHOTO OF THE DAY