DI ESPERIENZA – Tracie Merrill

One of the most common questions actors hear is ‘How do you learn all of those lines?’ Some scripts are easy to learn and some are a pain in the ass, but to be honest, learning lines is one of the most basic stepping-stones there is for what we do. Holding a script in the earliest part of rehearsals is handicapping. Only so much can be done. So earlier this week, when all four of us actors walked onto the stage without our scripts, it was an exciting moment. Time for the real work to begin. And time for a bit of comedy. Because, let’s face it, frustrated actors are funny, and flailing around trying to remember a forgotten line is frustrating. Hilarity ensues. Well, for now, anyway. In a few more days it becomes frustrating and unprofessional. The rules in the theatre world are ever changing, so you have to work to keep up.

The language in DI ESPERIENZA is complex to say the least, unbelievably rich and expressive. Throughout the text, actual excerpts from da Vinci’s notebooks are used, and those are probably the most challenging lines to memorize. The goal is to be word perfect, and man, that is always a feat. However, we do have help – our stage manager, Jennifer Freed. One of her MANY jobs is to follow the script during our rehearsals, calling out our lines when we ask for help and marking down mistakes when we’re on a roll so she can correct us later. Not an easy task. I repeat, not easy. Our success is heavily dependent on Jen and her attention to detail.

Stage managers are often the unsung heroes, keeping us all on track and on schedule during rehearsals, running every show after we open. Whenever I see a show, I notice people checking their programs and talking about the director, the playwright, the designers, the actors…rarely the stage manager. Jen’s bio could list that she not only fulfills the standard role of a stage manager, but works overtime to create a positive work environment and to keep us healthy and happy. There is always hot and cold water available, a variety of teas to choose from, packs of Emergen-C, Airborne, juice and a variety of snacks. Including chocolate. And chocolate may not necessarily fall in the everyday food pyramid, but it certainly boosts morale.

Every show is a collaborative effort, 100%. And whenever I see Jennifer’s name in a Plan-B program, I know that everyone has been well taken care of. And that the actors are probably pretty damn close to word perfect.

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