The Vulnerability of an Open Rehearsal

Last night, I was lucky enough to get invited to an open rehearsal for 365 Days/365 Plays: A 2017 Remix, by Full Circle Theater Company. I've admired the brand new company, begun by Rick Shiomi, Martha Johnson, and several other of the top theatre creators in Minnesota, but I have only recently begun to work with them.

I'm also very affected by Suzan-Lori Parks' work, and remember being hit hard by 365 Days/365 Plays in 2006 when she conceived of it. That year seems like yesterday and today. It was the year I lost my mom, and the year I got married, and here was this odd piece of short, direct plays that were really hard hitting. It's a spiky piece, extremely issues-based, and that year I saw several performances of the pieces from many diverse theaters, as companies nationwide collaborated in producing it as one big cycle.

So I have to admit when I found out Full Circle was doing it, my first thought was "why?" As we talked more, I saw intellectually how it fit in with their mission of "artfully addressing human nature and social justice."

But last night, even just in rehearsal, I truly saw how fantastic performances could push this issues-based piece into a whole new realm. It pushed me into a new space — and not necessarily a comfortable one, but one that I felt compelled to navigate and explore. It's been a long time since a play has challenged me in that way both intellectually and emotionally. It might be a change in me, but I am more likely to think it was the power of this production.

This was enhanced by the feeling of access from an open rehearsal. there in the basement rehearsal room at Pillsbury House, with bright fluorescent lights and rehearsal props and uncomfortable chairs and a dingy carpet, was a raw sense of adventure. Of confidence in what the actors know and an eagerness to try out new things. Of confident directors (Rick and Martha and several directors doing a few plays each) who were also pushing their boundaries. Of curiosity and exploration and even a slight crackling of danger.

The show opens in two weeks. You won't be able to get that raw rehearsal sense, but I'm pretty sure that sense of intimacy and challenge will be inherent in the finished piece. Don't miss it. Come with me opening night.


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