Fresh Eyes on Teenage, 6th Installment

Jan 9, 2019 | Fresh Eyes

Artists Rep’s Fresh Eyes program brings ‘civilians’ into the rehearsal process. On selected productions each season, we invite writers from diverse backgrounds to join us for a few rehearsals, and then share their observations of the process and the play in the Fresh Eyes blog. We hope the distinctive perspectives of our guests will illuminate the inner workings of a production, and enrich the experience for our audiences and community at large.

Jim Mayer, Elizabeth Tavares and Mary Schmidt

TEENAGE DICK is in the last phase of rehearsal: preview week, when the final element of any production — the audience — arrives. Having an audience changes everything: laughs affect timing of  lines, bodies soak up sound and volume has to be adjusted, skilled actors learn how to modulate their performances to keep the audience engaged. The work this week is focused on honing, polishing, and adjusting — a hundred tiny changes that will (hopefully) make it all seem natural and effortless.

Artists Rep appreciates the time and thoughtful commentary our Fresh Eyes volunteers Jim Mayer, Elizabeth Tavares and Mary Schmidt have shared during rehearsals for TEENAGE DICK, and hope that you have enjoyed their ‘fly on the wall’ observations of the process. Here are their final insights:

Jim Mayer

The first thing I noticed as I took my seat for the second preview performance was how much more room the actors had had in the rehearsal room.  I didn’t see any of the rehearsals on the stage, but I was impressed by how aware they had to be of economical movement on the more confining stage.

Experiencing the entire play after watching the rehearsals was a treat.  The addition of background sound gave the action a tempo that invigorated the play.  Auditorium scenes like the assemblies came alive not only due to the sound design, but also because the actors were so close to the audience.  Likewise with Richard’s soliloquies.  Also, it struck  me how much the real-time effect during performance sped up the action compared to rehearsal time.  The fight scene between Eddie and Richard, for example, was surprisingly quicker than I expected.

Speaking of time, apart from the ten minute pause due to the screen malfunction – and kudos to the person [Kristeen Crosser] who bravely brought out the ladder to manually raise the screens – the play came close to its advertised 95 minute run time.

Elizabeth Tavares

Young Richard in the city of Roses

 A rough sonnet upon the occasion of the west coast premiere of TEENAGE DICK, with allusions to Hans Holbein, William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, Sufjan Stevens, and William Wellman

Exhumed from the grave, just don’t call him “Dick.”

Nor confuse his gait with that of pal, Buck:

She will the show steal, while he turns your trick.

Their passion and humor will leave you awestruck.

Still waters run deep for the girl that would dance.

Astrophil’s belov’d, made rather than born,

is great with child to speak, but unhelped Anne

holds her own under weight of tweets that scorn.

So wise so young, they say, do never live long:

a tragedy sparks hope when girlfriend grows

from ire, but no comedy blossoms from self-wrong.

If bloody thou art, bloody be thy close.

Hedgehog in the Rose city pricks not by

briar, but mirrors against us to vie.

TABLE|ROOM|STAGE (T|R|S) was established in 2015 and is Artists Rep’s new play program whose mission is to develop and produce new work that vividly expresses Artists Rep’s aesthetic values.

We focus on work by writers of color, women, LGBTQIA+ and gender nonconforming writers, and offer an environment where these playwrights can create provocative, intimate new theatre pieces that challenge, illuminate, and inspire.