I have never been in a play where I have done so much tablework and feel so lost. I guess that's Hamlet. During the tablework I'd usually sit by Dom, and she usually sat by Irwin, who usually stopped us every other line (or more) with a, "And what do you think that means?" or, "Good! Now try that again but this time stress the last syllable."
This was all very helpful, but it was also for three hours worth of script. We once spend three hours going over a page and a half. So by Act IV everyone was looking a little glazed around the eyes.
This whole process went on for about two weeks, and I ended up doodling quite a bit in my script. All the more because most of Gertrude's scenes have her say a line every two pages or so and the rest of the time she is listening and reacting to what's happening around her. It's always interesting to see how much you can learn about your character by what they don't say, as well as what they do.
So, we were going over the play within the play scene, and I had another two pages or so until my next line ("The lady doth protest too much, methinks.") and was drawing in my script when Irwin turned to me, saying, "Now, Emily! What do you think, hearing what Hamlet's sayi...are you...drawing a chicken in your script?"
Of course I wasn't. It looked more like a cross between a dodo and a chocobo, as you can see:
In response I said, "...I am also listening." Cue the tired actor laughter, but then I proved it by explaining my thoughts about the scene. So there.
The thing with Irwin (and I feel like that is something I might repeat a lot) is that he wants to be sure we don't move forward when people don't get it. Admirable, yes, but also leading to what I lovingly refer to as "acting blue-balls".
You know, when you're really enjoying the scene and the tension is building and you're on the brink of figuring something out and all of a sudden someone pulls on the reins and you have to stop and lose all your momentum and start again from scratch. It's a bit frustrating, even when I see the motivation behind it.
It's a bit of the same story with blocking, stopping and starting and going back until it is exactly the way Irwin wants. I look forward to having a skeleton of the whole play so we can play around a bit.
(For those eagle-eyed readers who noticed that I apparently wrote "vagina" for no reason in my script: "Nothing" was a common pun Shakespeare used in the place of the actual name of female anatomy. To quote Wikipedia: "an O-thing" [or "'n othing" or "no thing"] was Elizabethan slang for "vagina", evidently derived from the pun of a woman having "nothing" between her legs.)