November 6, 2012

Ms. Ruth Fearrington, director’s assistant

Read Cliff Belamy’s Preview of “Between the Bells” in the “Herald Sun” news

OPENING NIGHT THOUGHTS from the director 

Putting on a play is very similar to what I’ve been told about giving birth.

During the initial phase of auditions and rehearsals there is a breathless rush of excitement and occasional nausea at the range of possibilities ahead.

Francesca, Rheanna, Taylor

Early doubts about our ability to bring the whole thing off give way to determination as we set the movement and delve into characters and relationships on stage.

Ana, Izzie, April (early rehearsals) & Edgar practice the “pink” scene.

The tension mounts as we go “off book” and falter over missed lines and cues. We aren’t ready yet, but we sure are tired of the daily demands on our time, our minds, our emotions and our bodies. Some of us get the flu. Others are summoned to renew attention to school grades. We are always aware of our inadequacies and sometimes want to give the whole thing up.

Jalil, Ana, April (early rehearsals) & Edgar

But it’s too late to turn back. We have committed ourselves and the play has taken on a life of its own. We’ve made fast friends with members of our cast. We LOVE our characters. It’s fun to act out the story of the play and every day we’re more confident in our abilities to create a worthy show. Rehearsals have made us eager to perform for an audience.

Hannah McShea’s scene painting

The last stage of putting on a show requires intense labor & focus. All other pursuits are put aside for the final effort and the rest of the world fades away as we bring to life a world that we’ve imagined and worked on for 8-weeks in community. We load the set into St. Joseph’s Performance Hall. We paint and hammer and drill the shell of our play into shape.  Auri focuses the lights & sets up the follow-spot. Props are labeled and properly placed in the wings, waiting. We practice, practice, practice …

Ana, Rheanna, Christine, Francesca, Taylor & Rory

Then the great surge of energy as makeup and costumes are donned and we slip into the rhythms of the story we’re telling – there’s a lot of laughter. We stretch and hold hands together — breathing together, shaping sound into vowels together – hoping together – We place our hands in the center of the circle, raise them high to the ceiling, shout together, “Good Show!”

Ana, Edgar, Micah, Jalil, Levern, Izzie, Rory, Christine, Ari, Taylor, Rheanna & Francesca – Ta da!

I sit backstage with my eyes closed, waiting for my entrance and listening peacefully to the  moment-to-moment presence of these actors as they generously share the excitement of our play with their audiences – and I think, “Yes, that’s it! That’s what we wanted to do, hoped to do, feared to do, worked to do – that’s what we meant to say.”

I hope you’ll join us for our final two performances of “Between the Bells,” this Friday and Saturday, November 9 & 10 at 8:00 pm on the glorious stage at the Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC. ADVANCE TICKETS ON SALE AT THE DFT SHOWS page and at Hayti Center Box Office on night of the show. 

Warmly, Jenny Justice

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