Guest blog from John Gardner!

January 22, 2009

Hi guys!

So I promised guest blogs, and what I promise, I deliver.  John Gardner, who is playing Paul in the Baby section of The Dome, has written about his experience in the rehearsals so far, and what it’s like to be part of such a wild and crazy process!  Read on…

-Rachel

John’s Guest Blog

As a performer, The Dome is a new experience for me, in a number of ways.

I’ve been in new shows before-shows that are going up for the very first time, where you have the opportunity to create a role and take that first stab at telling the story. I’ve been in new shows that were still in flux, still coming together and finding form, even as I rehearsed them. In both scenarios, the rehearsal process was always a wild ride, filled with moments of discovery, fun, and sometimes, anxiety that it just wasn’t going to come together.

What I’ve never done before is a new piece of theater that contains no less than four shows, all of which are in flux, all of which are finding not only their own form, but how they interlock with all the other parts, as well. That’s The Dome.

In real-time, we’ve been rehearsing The Dome for a little over two weeks, now. But it feels like twice that long, and here’s why: there’s been a density to the time we’ve all had together. On any given day, you’re working on a wide variety of things, and you’re answering to many different masters: directors, composers, writers, music directors. Each component of The Dome has its own aesthetic, and requires a specific approach; each director uses the ensemble in a different way; each song has its own unique voice. So every day has been full to the brim, dense with new ideas, words, and music.

If you think that sounds overwhelming, you’d be right. It is overwhelming at times; it’s a challenge. But in that challenge is also the joy: the joy of testing your limits. Every day has been a happy test of my capacity to absorb new material, process it, and put it on its feet. And while I’ve sometimes found myself overwhelmed by all that’s going on, I’ve also found something wonderful: my limits have grown.

At yesterday’s rehearsal alone, we completed a stumble-through of the Baby portion  that didn’t really stumble, but was instead already starting to walk; learned an intricate minuet dance for the Emilie and Voltaire portion; and  then sat down with a mixture of voices, musical instruments and pre-recorded soundtracks to learn a new number that will open the show. My brain was sore by the end of the day, but we got through it in one piece-and that in itself was a revelatory moment.

I’ve seen this with my colleagues, as well. Every day, the material we’re all being asked to take in becomes a little less overwhelming, and we become a readier, fitter ensemble, primed to bring to the stage an ambitious and exciting new piece that at it’s very best will make the audience ask big questions- and at the very least, will offer something for everyone.  And that’s The Dome.

The coming weeks promise new challenges as we all bring this thing into being. I find myself looking forward to those challenges-to tackling them with my fellow actors and to pushing my limits even further.  And just like Paul, the anxious, expectant father that I will portray in The Dome, I look forward to that singular feeling of joy that finally comes when you’ve created something wholly new.

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One Response to “Guest blog from John Gardner!”

  1. Dorothy said

    Beautifully said, John. It is a privilege to co-habitate the dome with you.

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