Sunday was a speedline rehearsal for the cast of To Kill A Mockingbird as we gathered at the Barn to review the script. The goal was to recite lines as quickly as coherently possible, with overlapping cues, to test the actors’ memories and build some momentum going into the last few rehearsals. The usual Southern drawls and deliberate pacing were replaced by staccato monotones as actors spit out the words in a fast-paced rhythm.
The three youngest actors (Nina White as Scout, Patrick Vietor as Jem, and Nicholas Zupancic as Dill) displayed an amazing facility for the speedy wordplay. They amused themselves and the rest of us with how differently the lines sounded when read like a legal disclaimer at the end of a TV infomercial. As assistant director, there was a method to my madness in running this speed drill. I told the cast, “Hear how flat and plain the script sounds by itself. It is amazing what you are doing as actors to breathe life into the script by adding your own emotions, inflections and characterizations.”
I am very proud of this cast: Their dedication during countless hours of rehearsal and their attention to detail in developing their characters will definitely show in their performances. We have three more rehearsals to fine-tune the play, and am I am confident that audiences will be pleased with the end result when the show opens this Friday, September 30th.
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