Just finishing up our third week of rehearsal and I am excited as my body is sore. The major design element of the show is one large platform, the entire length of the stage, that contorts in all directions literally giving Don Juan unstable ground to work through the demons of his mind. This deceptively complex set maneuvers into all kinds of inclines and declines making you use muscles you don't normally use. I think we all are feeling it and are being careful to take care of any ailments before they become intrusive into the work. But despite the physical toll this crazy set is exacting, everyday we play on it like school children. Using it as a jungle gym. Sliding down it, rolling onto it, hanging off it, doing pull ups on it. I struggle to find another time in my career when there was so much physical play in rehearsal. Also because we are using barely any set pieces (a table and a few chairs), we are presented with filling the space with just our bodies. With the (for lack of a better word) "style" moving away from naturalism, we're tasked with creating the world of the scene with our bodies and voices. There is nowhere to hide. No couch to sink into. No picture to stare at. No bedroom to attach your psychology to. Its just the actors and the platform. And of course the sound and lighting and costumes. All of which, I expect, are as excited to fill the space with their art as we the actors are. The thrilling thing about having nothing on stage is that you can be anything. People have been asking me recently how rehearsals are going. My response is always that they are going wonderfully. I don't exactly know what the audience is going to experience but its been rare that I have had this amount of artistic liberation in a process. Already I feel this process having a larger importance in my craft than just the production.
Lindsay Smiling has worked at over 20 different professional theaters throughout his career performing in both classical and contemporary productions. Currently he resides on the East Coast and teaches acting at Temple University.