These last 24 hours are, I think, the most intense 24 hours of the project.
Yesterday morning the ensemble slept in, and then, even once we got up, we really didn’t speak to each other. A sense of angst permeated the entire space.
I think we were all dreading rehearsal too much.
Last night was script building night. For more information on our process, you can check out Ben’s awesome post. But let it be said that last night was final trimmings and ordering the lines, as well as preffing which lines we want. We finished Thursday night’s rehearsal with 35 pages of script and we absolutely LOVED every word in it. Unfortunately, the script had to be capped at 18 pages. And we needed to finish the evening’s rehearsal with a finished product
We were all less concerned than we could’ve been – last year’s ensemble began their final script building night with 100 pages of material, and they were there for 12 hours. Starting at 35 we all kind of figured we’d be out by 1am, or maybe 2am at the latest. That’s late, and 7 or 8 hours of rehearsal late respectively, but still offers a decent night’s sleep. Early in the week we’d worked till 3 anyways, so we figured we were set.
So why the pervasive angst?
All nine of us have very different identities. We all believe in the incredible importance of these conversations, but because our lived experiences are different, there was a high chance that the particular topics we’d want addressed would differ. For instance, a lesbian member of the ensemble would want to make sure certain lesbian issues on campus are addressed (for instance the objectification of girl-girl couples or the fact that there are so few out lesbians on campus) while a male gay member of the ensemble would want to make sure certain gay male issues on campus are addressed (for instance the commoditization of the flamboyant gay man in terms of GBF or how performances of masculinity intersect with sexual identity.) These kinds of conflicts exist in multitude for each of our 9 areas we intended to address.
The angst in our apartment, I think, was tension building up among all of us, ready to fight for the importance of our individual identities. We all love each other incredible amounts and would never want to hurt each other, so the looming decisions between what stories we need told and what stories those we love need told was scary. And stressing everybody out a bit.
We tried to make rehearsal as painless as possible from the beginning. We all ordered take out and it sort of had that party atmosphere. We knew it would be painful, but we were still intending a 1 or 2 am bed time.
We started sorting lines and were doing great! We had a whole 2 pages of the script before we came to a halt. We just couldn’t find anything to fit and were really struggling to continue. At that point Mel, with all her directorial powers, told us that we needed to start cutting lines. We got 20 lines on each subject – it was time to make some choices.
Cutting out entire dialogues was really hard. There were so many topics that were so important to so many of us. We poured over all the tiny slips of paper for hours. And hours. And hours. But everyone was more civil than I ever could have imagined possible. If our stories had to be cut, it was always in service of the project, because we understood that other stories needed to be told and it was only that our stories should be told. And nothing stops us from telling our stories here or to others elsewhere.
Flow was maybe more important to all of us than it should’ve been. Deciding which lines fit with each other and which experiences were similar in tone despite differences in topic was difficult and grueling but thought provoking in a lot of ways, too. It passed 1am and we definitely weren’t done. It passed 2am and there was no end in sight.
Around 3:45am we had a finished script. In the form of hundreds of tiny slips of paper laid out across a long table. Precisely in order based on our previous 9.75 hours of discussion. Mel typed each slip of paper into an open document on her computer while we watch music videos of ridiculous songs (some of which may be featured in our pre-show! So get excited for that.)
By 4:30am the script was finish, typed, printed, and in our hands. It was 18 pages long, but we couldn’t go to bed without a read-through – we had to make sure the script came in under time as well as under length.
At 5am we finished the read through – the script was the perfect length. But also so totally wrong. Things were lost that were absolutely necessary to the conversation. Things were present that were maybe not so important. It felt absolutely horrible for our finished product to feel so wrong after 11 hours of work. So, in we dove again.
Ripping apart a script that’s taken months of research and transcribing and discussion and decision honestly feels like killing your child. From 6am-7am ensemble members were maybe the most hopeless we’d been. We needed to go through each and every line again, decide how necessary it is, whether or not it flows from the previous line and into the following line, and how we can trim it for length. It just suddenly seemed like such an endless task.
But then, all of a sudden, around 7:15, everything fit again. We’d cut enough and added enough that maybe we could try another read through.
This one was largely successful. Maybe that’s because we were so tired that any script would feel like success, but I do truly think this is an amazing project. Considering the time limitations, I think this says everything we want to say, and is still engaging and beautiful and funny and entertaining and everything the Sedehi Diversity Project should be. Everyone else agreed.
At 8am we were finally finally finally done building our script. We were all so giddy and happy that no one was holding it together. Well, with the exception of Ben Sam and Will R who still sort of were. Someone has our celebratory video (composed of lots of screams of success) so get excited for that!
When we left our windowless prison and saw the sun I’m pretty sure Mel melted. She’s probably actually a vampire. Or just hadn’t really realized how late in the day 8am is to still be awake. But probably the former.
After we got back to our apartment I was so wide awake. We’d created something wonderful and put an entire new set of energy into the world! And remained as close, if not closer because of it! How was I supposed to sleep! So I’ve tried to be productive this morning – going on a run, doing my laundry, writing blog posts. But the crash has got to come soon! After being awake for 24 hours, and 14 straight hours of rehearsal, I don’t know how much longer I can function. My condolences go out to Mel, Will R, and Vernon who can’t go to sleep for quite some time. Mel and Will are busy divvying up the script to the performers and giving everybody lines, and Vernon has tour guide duties. I’m sure those prospectives are going to be absolutely overwhelmed with his enthusiasm!
And on that note, I am off to bed. The past 24 hours have cemented our bond as an ensemble, I think. In addition to creating something I think is really wonderful and I hope we can all feel really proud of. So, at 10:30am, I say to you, good night!