Cruising the Divide

Hello, and welcome to the “Cruising the Divide” blog. You can check back here to get updates of what’s happening in the rehearsal process of the 2007-2008 Actors Theatre of Louisville Apprentice/Intern Company’s community based project. We will also have interviews with people close to the production periodically. Here’s a short version of what’s happened so far.

April 19-22

We began the rehearsal process with a read-through of the script in its current form. We immediately then began the process of collaboratively re-writing the script to make sure that it adequately examines all of the varying issues that come into play with such a controversial issue as Derby Cruising. We realized very early that in order to examine cruising, we had to examine all the rest of the celebrations that take place in Louisville around Derby time, as well as the community of Louisville itself. The cast and creative team sat around tables the first three days of rehearsal having in-depth conversations about anything that anyone felt came into play in connection with the play we were beginning to create. Issues as personal as our experiences of interviewing the people whose stories are being told in this script, and as nebulous and far-reaching as misogyny, racism, class-ism, and regionalism were discussed.

April 22, 2008

We started the day at the tables today, and worked together to get a better understanding of some of the events and areas that we are discussing. We were able to find an image of Churchill Downs and figure out what the scene is like inside the infield. We also split up some of the upcoming events and made sure that we had someone from the cast lined up to attend and report back. In the second half of the day, we moved the tables out of the way and began to work with our movement coordinators. We experimented with different pedestrian movements that might be found in different circumstances around Louisville during Derby time, and then put them into conversation with each other. It was a very valuable exercise in finding out different ways that we communicate. We then spent some time in pairs and worked on listening and recreating phrases. It brought up a very tricky conversation on the balance between the actor and the character the actor is portraying. Are we aiming to impersonate every minute detail of the interviewee, or should we communicate from our perspective, as informed by the words and gestures, and body-language of the people we are portraying.

April 23, 2008

The morning session today was spent in deep introspective group discussion of our roots, our culture, and our race. The specifics of this exercise are confidential, and must remain in the rehearsal room.

In the afternoon session, we worked with our movement coordinator, Zahava, on some movement techniques, to get the bodies of the cast members into a similar place and vocabulary. After that, the group worked on some African dance phrases and choreography. These phrases may not be in the show, but they were instrumental in feeding the body with some of the themes and moods of the play.

April 24, 2008

Zahava is leaving town for a few days at the end of the day today, so we spent a great deal of the rehearsal with her. We opened the rehearsal by learning a dance routine that mixes African dance with contemporary American Hip-Hop dance.

After lunch, we had a read-through of the latest version of the script, with the latest casting. An announcement was made that this casting is not necessarily final. For this read-through the tables were gone and the cast sat in a circle to read.

April 25

Today was devoted to more read-through/table work, sans the tables. We went through each scene a few times, reading, asking questions, and making suggestions. In many cases we discussed the real people the characters are based on. This gave Will some things to think about in terms of more re-writes, which I’m sure will continue well into the process. It’s my guess that the script may not be finalized until the last week of rehearsal, and perhaps even into tech, as is the way with new works.

April 26, 2008

Today was an exciting day right from the get-go. There was some sort of massive marathon in downtown Louisville this morning, which had its headquarters on Market street, right in front of the Actors Theatre building. As such, I ended up being about a half hour late to our noon rehearsal, and had to park 5 blocks from the theatre and walk. When I got here, I found that there was a live street concert, very loud, on the street directly below the windows of our usual rehearsal hall. We had to move down the hall to a smaller room for out rehearsal. Today we started scene work, and blocking at the top of the show. Actors came and went throughout the day as their scene was scheduled.

4/26 I was able to interview J Lee, a cast member of cruising the divide. Here’s what he had to say.

What are you most excited about in relation to this project?

I am most excited about doing a project that means something to the community, cause it seems like a lot of people have invested a lot of interest in it and what’s especially exciting is that we’re engaging a part of the community that wasn’t necessarily too much part of Actors’ Theatre community previous to this.

The cast of this show had a major role in conducting interviews with real people in the community to help create the script. With that in mind, what kind of sense of ownership do you feel over this project?

Definitely some sense of ownership cause we’ve been here from the beginning, uh, and we’ve seen how the script progresses, and you know, it’s always a nice opportunity to be the first person to perform a part. So in that sense there’s definitely a sense of ownership, knowing that, hey, no one else has performed this before, so all my decisions don’t have to be at all altered by what someone else thought before.

Now, you’ll be portraying real people on stage in this play, many of whom will be in the audience watching. How responsible do you feel to them, to accurately portray them?

I feel very responsible, cause I don’t want to let them down, especially cause the community definitely has a sense of ownership of this play, probably more than a lot of us do. But um, yeah, I definitely want to try very hard to make that person feel like they were well represented. At the same time, I’m not them. So, I hope they respect the fact that no matter what I’m gonna bring my own bit of me to the piece, so it’s gonna be a little bit of whoever, and a little bit of J. It’s blended. It’s twisted. It’ll still be delicious.

April 29, 2008

Today we began rehearsal with a talk with Dot King, our beloved company manager and long time Louisville resident, concerning everything that happens in Louisville around Derby. Tamilla made sure that we could all get this information so that we, as a cast, can be involved personally and actively in the events associated with our play. I think everyone was impressed by the large amount of things that happen around this city in relation to a two minute long horse race. Good job, Louisville.

Also, Zahava is back today, so we moved on with movement work, continuing to solidify the dance we learned last week.

4/30/2008

Today was a very productive day. We were running rehearsals in three separate rooms. In one room we had Zahava working with small groups of the cast to sharpen some of the dance and movement sequences, which are shaping up to be amazing. In another room we had Tamilla, our fabulous director, working on scene work. In yet another rehearsal room, we had Amy, our assistant director, working individually with cast members, mostly on honing their characters voices, and getting dialects correct. Unlike most of the cast, Amy is from Louisville, and is therefore invaluable in helping us to get a better understanding of what actually happens in this city around the most exciting two minutes in sports.

So, that’s what’s up. Check back later for more. On a related note, we’re 3 days away from the Kentucky Derby!!! Have a good time out there.

Blog Feature
Apprentice Bing Putney Blogs about the Derby Cruising Project

How the Project is Shaping Up
Some Photos from Behind the Scenes
The A/I Company Derby Report

Act One
Full Run!
Moving into the Space

More Information About Cruising the Divide

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2 Responses

  1. […] How the Project is Shaping Up Some Photos from Behind the Scenes The A/I Company Derby Report Act One Full Run! Moving into the Space […]

  2. […] How the Project is Shaping Up Some Photos from Behind the Scenes The A/I Company Derby Report Act One Full Run! Moving into the Space […]

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