Theatre as Community

Godspell opens at Hedgerow this week!God Save the People from Hedgerow Theatre's Godspell Preview 3/26/11. L to R Jeff LaBonde, Music Director. William Moore. Jeff Berry. Carl Smith, Jesus. Nicole LaBonde. Shaun Yates, Judas. Photo by Ashley E. Smith
Oh, I’m so excited! And, you know, exhausted, nervous, and all the other conditions that go along with tech week.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the challenges of this show, the main one being schedule. We started rehearsals March 8th. Opening night is April 2nd. Do the math. That is a crazy fast timeline.  I’ve always been good at prioritizing. And the LaBonde Rule of Choreography has kept me from overwhelming myself or the cast.  So, as we approach opening night (Saturday, April 2nd. 7:30PM. Get your tickets.), I thought I would look at what I’ve learned from this show.  

Community. Penn has been drilling into us the idea of community in this show. That a group of people, centered on an idea can change the world. (See Jesus and disciples, see Egypt in the past month). And how this show has come together has been a lovely (if smaller scale) example of that.

I wrote before (links above) of knowing that we had the right production team on this show and the right lead actors. In working with an inter-generational cast of significant size, those components must be perfect. Your team determines your show. Looking back at the other shows I’ve done, I see this so clearly.  If they’re not into a show, it can drag down the whole ensemble. If they never have a chance to invest in the show or relationships because of rotating casts, it hard to have genuine chemistry on stage. But with Godspell. Oh, now here is a different story.

The Artistic Director, Musical Director and I could not wait to do this show. Literally. We’ve been in a state of excited anticipation since September. The lead actors are real life best friends. For most of us, we’ve worked together for at least months, if not years.  And we really enjoy working together. The condensed rehearsal schedule has forced us to spend from 10-30 hours a week together. And we like it.

Of course, a tech week can challenge even the most cohesive community. Long hours. Together. Doing lighting cues. (The ultimate test of performers’ patience.) The weight of that tight timeline is now being felt as we look at an opening night only 4 days away. Anxiety and worry are at their peaks.
But trial is important to community. If you survive your trials, together, your idea/purpose survives. If you allow difficulties to turn you on each other, your community is destroyed. All the elements are there for a great show. We all want this. As a community.

We are going to present a really meaningful work of theatre over the next few week. . We are going to challenge ourselves and our audience to think about the people they surround themselves with. The ideas they believe in.  And how those daily interactions with those people and ideas can affect the world around you.