Journey through the Creation of Adapt! - Beginnings, Part 1: First Days
An Actress's Notebook
The Wilma asked me to write a weekly blog chronicling our work on the World Premiere of ADAPT! (& I said YES!) These blogs are for you, dear reader. They’re part diary, part rehearsal peek-a-boo, part teaser/trailer for the production. Honoring the spirit of Blanka’s script, it will be irreverent, a little mysterious, sometimes absurd, always playful, and always trying to get at the kind of truth only art can get.
Yours in adaptation,
Wilma HotHouse Affiliated Artist
First days of rehearsal always remind me of first days of school. I’m all excited and nervous as I walk in the room. My friends are all there; and their smiles are all the same, but their haircuts are all different. I feel overwhelmed and completely excited, and I know something wild is about to begin.
The first day of ADAPT! was even more fulsome and feisty than normal. The creative design team is massive: Wilma HotHouse Affiliated Artists like Matt Saunders, Thom Weaver, and Dan Perelstein, as well as some impressive new colleagues, including choreographer Silvana Cardell and musical composer Mariana Sadovska. The entire administrative staff is there, too -- from Managing Director James Haskins, welcoming everyone and hosting donors who are sitting in to listen, to Development and Special Events Manager Debby Lau, reigning over the table of Bagels and Treats.
First Day of Rehearsal
So there we all are: all loud and rowdy at first with our hugs and hello’s, until eventually Stage Manager Pat Adams has to ring a bell to settle us down, and ask us to take our seats and get to work.
And we do. We get to work.
We’d cheated a little bit, though.
We’d done our summer homework (or in this case, winter), and the material was familiar. Thanks to two weeks of workshop and rehearsal in November, the script of ADAPT! is already suffused mysteriously into our bones. And there have been various workshop drafts and readings as well – for some of us, stretching back over two years to the first public reading in February 2015. (Not to mention the web of collaboration and shared artistic and personal experience in the room. This is my eighth show with Blanka, whom I’ve known now for ten years.)
That’s the thing about art making: it’s cumulative. Even what changes is never entirely undone. As is the case with history, it’s always somewhere hidden in your cells. The epigenetics of artmaking, I suppose. Every day of rehearsal, and every experience speaking and singing and howling the words aloud, settles the words and the characters more deeply into our voices, and into our bones, in spite of the generational shifts in script drafts and casting changes, and some stunning new production designs that reflect the world we’re now in.
I bring up history and time because it’s important to the production. There’s a character in the show known simply as The Old Woman. She arrives by chariot, pulled by a team of lackeys. She’s full of experience and mystery. Maybe she comes from the Old World of Europe; maybe she comes from our dreams. And she has many things to say about Time. (None of them particularly reassuring, unfortunately.) She reminds the main character, Lenka, early on:
All is changing.
Nothing lasts forever.
You can’t stop time.
It’s running out.
Next week I’ll keep writing about time. But for now…. I’m running out of time, too. To complete the school metaphor - I have homework to do! And a lot of lines to memorize. At the Wilma, we move fast, and the rehearsal is never done.
KRISTA APPLE is a Philadelphia-based actor, writer and teacher, and a longtime Wilma collaborator. Wilma stage credits include the U.S. Premieres of Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem and Vaclav Havel’s Leaving; Rapture, Blister, Burn; Hamlet; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead; In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play (2011 Barrymore Award, Best Supporting Actress) Our Class; Macbeth; and The Life of Galileo. Additional Philadelphia credits include: Arden Theatre (Metamorphoses; Romeo & Juliet); Walnut Street Theatre (Proof, Other Desert Cities), Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (Mary Stuart; Creditors), Interact, Lantern, Theatre Exile, and PlayPenn, among others. She is also a full time faculty member at University of the Arts, a sometime contributor to American Theatre magazine, and a former Associate Editor of the Teaching Artist Journal.