Today, a word or two (or 1421, to be more accurate) about the rehearsal process for the first season of Raiders of the Temple of Doom's Last Crusade. As I mentioned earlier, the brilliant Russell Fletcher had agreed to be the show's director, and after we formalised our arrangement with a contract, we both mapped out a rehearsal schedule for the show that took into account our various work and family commitments. I remember we couldn't rehearse on September 4th, 5th or 11th, because I was shooting a small role in the movie Now Add Honey, for example. It was quite tricky, but eventually we got there. This was one of the times that, as the show's producer, I was glad that I was the only person in the cast. It certainly made this scheduling easier than it would have been with more people in the show.
In the end, the rehearsals ended up taking place over the six week period just before the show opened. Here's how it all broke down;
Monday 19/08: 12 PM - 3 PM
Wednesday 21/08: 12 PM - 3 PM
Friday 23/08: 12 PM - 3 PM
Monday 26/08: 1 PM - 3 PM
Tuesday 27/08: 9:30 AM - 3 PM
Wednesday 28/08: 9:30 AM - 3 PM
Thursday 29/08: 9:30 AM - 3 PM
Tuesday 03/09: 9:30 AM – 3 PM
Friday 06/09: 9:30 AM – 3 PM
Monday 09/09: 1 PM – 3 PM
Tuesday 10/09: 9:30 AM – 12 PM
Thursday 12/09: 9:30 AM – 3 PM
Friday 13/09: 9:30 AM – 3 PM
Monday 16/09: 1 PM - 3 PM
Tuesday 17/09: 2 PM – 4 PM
Wednesday 18/09: 10 AM – 1 PM
Thursday 19/09: Tech rehearsal at North Melbourne Town Hall 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Friday 20/09: Dress rehearsal – day, FIRST PERFORMANCE 8:00 PM
77 hours of rehearsals in total. They took place mostly at Russell's house, sometimes at my house, and we did manage to get a few in at a great production space called Revolt Productions, which was run by a friend of Russell's.
So, what was the process like?
Well, the earlier rehearsals consisted of Russell and I "getting the script on its feet", working through it, and devising and locking in all the staging and choreography. We'd go through the show, scripts in hand, quite slowly, one scene at a time, repeating it as often as necessary, with me jotting down all of our agreed moves - and sometimes lighting or sound effects - in my hard copy of the script. After each session, I'd take those notes and type them up into the next draft of the script. This gave me a document that I could use to also rehearse at home, in between 'official' rehearsals, marrying the moves to the words, so that eventually the whole thing would become second nature.
As I became more and more familiar with the words and the moves, and they started to sink in to my head, we'd rehearse longer and longer sections of the show, rather than just single scenes. Eventually, we got it to a stage where we could rehearse each of the three sections of the show (Raiders, Temple of Doom and Last Crusade) from start to finish.
I'd always be exhausted and dripping with sweat afterwards, but on we went...
Little by little, my stamina improved to the point where I could finally manage to do all three, one after the other, from start to finish, and keep the required energy levels up. But it wasn't easy. This required more cardio fitness than I'd ever been called on to provide in any other show. But the constant repetition of the show served to train me up physically as well as mentally.
As we ran the show again and again and again, and it got well and truly into my bones, Russell's notes and tweaks could become more and more specific. And they certainly did. Here's an example of his notes after one of our run-throughs;
So, as you can see, he really was polishing this show. I was, and am, so grateful to Russell for all of his incredibly detailed work.
By the end of that laborious, painstaking, fastidious - but still very enjoyable - process, we were finally ready.
Ready, that is, for OPENING NIGHT.....