Its not that we forgive him,
Because we can’t,
We can’t do that.
But I’m fed up with him
Having this power,
This power over us. (Sc. 9, pg. 36)
As with any new production this first week has been about getting to know each other, the characters, the stage-space and the rules of the world of the play (an explanation of what I mean by this will follow). It has been a week of line by line read-throughs, walk-throughs and discussions about intentions and meaning, and how these affect the play as a whole. One line said differently can change the whole meaning of a scene, or explain just one aspect of a character, but each and every nuance is important to the narrative. It has been a week filled with intense Four Square battles and gentle dance warm-ups, neither of which have directly affected our interpretation of the play, but nevertheless were very fun.
Despite only having three people on stage at the most, this play has presented its challenges when it comes to blocking (where the actors move and when) and staging (where the set moves and when). The transitions between scenes are something which are particularly challenging due to the quick changes in subject matter, and the potential for an emotional ending of one scene to be under-mined by the relatively jovial start of the next. One way to get around this is to have moments, or beats, between each scene change where the characters, actors and audience have a small chance to digest and process the action, and to metaphorically wipe the slate clean for a whole new scene. To coincide with this, the set is “reset” to its original position at the start of the play, to visually signify a definitive ending and an upcoming change of space.
Aside from the three main characters who appear onstage, After the Accident also contains a few unseen characters, in particular the looming presence of Mr. Casey, the restorative counsellor. What we have been working on this week is where this imaginary character can be on stage and how to make him look the most real. This means that we have had to decide on a concrete set of rules which will make the world of the play seem as real as possible. Asking an audience to come and see a production is asking them to suspend their disbelief and really trust that what is happening on stage is something to emotionally invest in. Especially in a production such as this where there is a high-emotion subject matter, anything which is jarring or distracting, for example, a clunky scene change or a difference in where each actor looks to signify an unseen character, can break the spell and weaken the emotional integrity of the production. So as you can see, we are taking this very seriously and working hard to tell the story of these characters in the best way we possibly can.