Have realised, over the past week - as I realise every time I'm involved with a new play - just how poorly understood is the process of developing and rehearsing a play, especially a new play.
This was brought home to me a few years ago, when I happened to be talking to a young performance student who clearly couldn't understand why she was being asked to analyse texts, when all she wanted to do was - well - perform. It was obvious that, having come from an amateur dramatic background, she seemed to think that professional performance involved being told where to stand and where to go, while learning the lines and making them sound natural. Similarly, somebody just asked me if rehearsals involved me 'making sure that the actor said the lines the way you want them said.'
Well, there is, of course, a sense in which all these things are true. Playwright David Mamet, famously, only asks of his actors that they read the lines the way they are written. But he IS David Mamet! There is also a sense in which all these things are only the tip of a much more difficult, but much more interesting iceberg. It is impossible to underestimate just how much rehearsal time (and pre-rehearsal time, with whoever is directing the play) is spent in analysing the script, discussing what it means, who these characters are, why they speak and behave the way they do - and what are the complex emotions underlying the words on the page. If director and actors bring a fine emotional intelligence to the project, the whole experience can be truly rewarding. But however rewarding, the process is never simple or easy, for any of those involved.