…and to be taught

There’s a kitchen party going on right now as our supper dishes are being washed and dried by our resident bromance, Rob and Luke. Ian is strumming a guitar by the fireplace. The remains of a script are on the dining room table, where we did an italienne (running our lines as fast as possible–don’t ask me where the name comes from!) from nine o’clock to… well, let’s not take about how long the run took us, shall we?  It’s late for us–very late: ten o’clock. When you have Tintamarrathon-style days, anything past nine is bound to become a giggle-fest.

Thankfully, the mornings are always focused.

Thankfully, the mornings are always focused.

Alors… par où commencer la récapitulation? Perhaps we could talk about the changes that have come over us in the past few days. Nous venons d’amorcer la phase du processus de réchauffement où nous enchaînons les différentes parties de la pièce pour travailler les différentes transitions entre les scènes. On commence, lentement mais bien sûrement, à trouver non seulement les petits rythmes qui existent dans chacun des épisodes, mais aussi le rythme de la pièce grand R. ALBUM est l’histoire de plusieurs personnages, mais il est bon de commencer à tâter le fil connecteur de la pièce elle-même! Pour les comédiens, le processus nous force à nous concentrer, à s’aider les un(e)s les autres. On est en scène! Où dois-je me placer pour mon entrée dans une page? Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé entre ma sortie et mon arrivée? Zut! J’ai oublié une réplique! Heureusement que quelqu’un est là avec le texte…

We’ve been doing these run-throughs for the past few rehearsals–and we really have begun to hit a stride. Today, we ran the show in costume and, carried by the energy and each others’ support, managed to shave a whole three minutes off our run time! (This is all-important, given the fifty-five minute periods we’ll be working against in a school setting…) The end result is a show that is much snappier, its actors more focused, its arc and its message more easily passed on, than anything we had… five days ago.

Holy cow–five days! To think that, a week ago right now, some of us were finishing our final papers and putting the last full-stop on our exams. Comme le dirait Alex: nous faisons des pas de géant.


Our set and costumes are coming along, too! Have you seen Natalie’s fantastical creation, the black-and-silver Photographe’s camera? Of course you haven’t–she just finished it today, while Alison and Amber were putting the last few touches on the portrait frame’s gilding. The lower riser for the frame is set. The lights for the inside of the portrait are (with a few frantic trips to Home Hardware) not going to fall on us this time. The rehearsal cubes are becoming veritable poufs that you’d mistake for your grandmother’s furniture. We are getting ready, and every step we take towards the finished(ish) show brings us closer and closer to an audience.

Closer and closer–or have we been there before? Last Monday, we were invited by the folks of Mount Allison to present part of ALBUM at the Teaching In And Beyond The Classroom conference–a two-day event featuring undergraduates teaching in an undergraduate context. The premise of the conference was to showcase, and to link, the different ways in which students are branching out and becoming educators themselves–whether in music, science, arts, theatre, or any other discipline. And despite the fact that we had only been rehearsing for (gulp) five full days, we agreed to give a brief overview of the play and answer a few questions. Our first talk-back!


Rosalind deciphers “Hot Cross Buns”


Kelley présente une des scènes

Et quelle expérience! Nous avons eu la chance de participer à quelques-unes des activités proposées par la conférence, dont une leçon de musique organisée par des élèves du conservatoire de Mount Allison. Some of us took up the French horn; others discovered a newfound talent for the trombone; Lauren semble avoir trouvé une virtuosité insoupçonnée à la trompette… thank you so much to the students from the music education seminar who seriously made us consider becoming a symphonic band as well as a theatre troupe!

And oh, the response that we got from these scenes! I don’t mean to say that they were perfect–I certainly flubbed a few lines, nervous as I was to be in front of our first audience–but it was a completely different feeling from being in our tiny (but cozy!) rehearsal hall. Tweedie Hall was cavernous and our audience went all the way to the back, so we suddenly had to take a dozen things into account. Are we open enough? Is our projection coming from the intercostal muscles? Has someone fallen asleep at the back table? It made us realize to what point our performances in the schools will have to be dynamic–to adapt to a space, an audience, and an atmosphere in the minutes before a presentation. We’ll need all our concentration and all our Tintamour (ceux qui connaissent le portmanteau comprendront).

We had a talk-back session after presenting two scenes and a few songs–and, if I may say so to compliment my fellow actors, receiving some warm applause. There were questions about our process; about how collaboration can foster both interpersonal and academic growth, especially when talking about language-learning; and about how we plan to adapt to the unpredictability of our audiences.

To talk back and forth to our audience that day made my insides buzz with an anticipation for what we’ll be doing in the next few days–coming to different schools as educators, as performers, as role models, but as students, too. Il est impossible de se considérer comme étant soit professeur ou étudiant, tout comme personne ne devrait être seulement acteur ou seulement spectateur. We’ll present ALBUM to over three thousand people, and we’ll (hopefully!) be bringing with it a message, and some questions–about memory, about our families, and about the collective past–but we will learn, too. We’ll learn patience and teamwork; we’ll learn to trust ourselves and each other, our audiences and our contact teachers. We’ll be asked questions that have never been asked before, and that will take us aback and send us spinning. And you know what? I’m excited.

Because that’s why we’re doing it, isn’t it? To teach and to be taught. We have come so far in these past few days, but oh, we have so much to learn. And the road will teach us about it. All our friends are waiting for us.

À bientôt!

-Pépère et les autres

Here, Rob is holding some of the cheesecake that he definitely did not take from the conference's lunch. And if he did, he most certainly acted alone, and was not spurred on by Bernard or one of the organizers.

Our post-“show” debrief! Here, Rob is holding some of the cheesecake that he definitely did not take from the conference’s lunch. And if he did, he most certainly acted alone, and was not spurred on by Bernard or one of the organizers.


Ready, set… PARTEZ!

Oh, là la! We are so tired…

That seems to be the overwhelming sentiment at the Bermuda House this morning. But not the bad kind of tired, we promise! Hard-work, sore-limbs kind of tired. C’est notre troisième journée de répétition, but as an actor said yesterday at the end of our evening rehearsal: “It feels like we’ve doing this for weeks, not hours!”

Not that we're complaining.

Not that we’re complaining.

ALBUM is all about what can happen to a family when the va-et-vient, the brouhaha, takes over our lives–and right now, life seems to be imitating art. Twelve people all moved into the second floor at Bermuda House, working together not to get lost in the maze of corridors, squeezing into the tiny kitchen to eat each other’s scrambled eggs, and working our way through six (!) hours of rehearsal a day!

It can feel a bit cramped at times.

It can feel a bit cramped at times.

But it is so, so, so rewarding. There is a certain kind of energy that comes from a group like this. Yesterday, we ran through and blocked every scene in the play. Every scene. We made spontaneous decisions to cut or move lines. Our set changed completely, suddenly springing three cubes, and everyone began using them creatively immediately.

A teleconference call...

A teleconference call…

Nous devons nous remettre à l’apprentissage des répliques (our off-book day is three hours from now!), so we’ll leave you with these pictures and these paltry paragraphs. Mais restez à l’écoute! Over the next few weeks, you’ll travel with us as we build our ALBUM and take it out across the Maritimes…

Au plaisir de vous connaître!

Mémère, Pépère, Pierre, et la tante Bonnie

Les musiciens confèrent...

Les musiciens confèrent…