“We don’t like to say we ‘memorize’ lines,” said freshman Amia Georges. “We like to say we ‘learn’ our lines.”
For the cast of the fall play, putting on a show starts with learning the characters behind the script. This year’s fall show, The Good Doctor, is a play with many, many characters to explore. Playwright Neil Simon based the play on the short stories of nineteenth-century Russian author Anton Chekhov, but with a more modern, often comedic twist.
These stories include a mother encouraging her children’s governess to stand up for herself, a dentist frightening his patient while treating a toothache, and a man attempting to seduce his best friend’s wife.
“It’s really interesting,” said senior Sarah Packman, “because it’s not one story but a collection of short stories. Each scene is like its own story.”
This is exactly what director Jay Freer loves so much about this production. “It gives a lot of people an opportunity to work,” he said. “It’s really meant to have just three men and two women, but we’re doing it with a whole bunch of the upper school students who came out [to auditions.] It has so many different opportunities because there are so many different scenes.”
The arrangement of the piece has also allowed for more flexibility in rehearsals, which haven’t been quite as rigorous for each cast member as they’ve been in past productions. Because many of the actors are only in one scene, they have been able to focus more on developing their characters than committing their script to memory.
“Rather than just memorizing our lines,” said sophomore Joey Boveri, “[Mr. Freer] wants us to come up with images that associate with the words to help us remember them.”
This strategy has allowed many actors to nail down the words more effectively so they can get deeper into the true essence of the production: the emotions, the actions, and the motivations behind the characters themselves.
“You make up a backstory that explains why your character does what they do,” said Sarah Packman. “Then, you can make character choices, like how your character is going to walk: do they walk really hunched over, or do they seem nervous and talk high-pitched.”
The directors’ goal for this production is for these young actors to connect the worlds of The Good Doctor to their own own worlds. “That’s what we spend three-quarters of the time on,” said Mr. Freer. “...they have to keep asking themselves ‘what would I do if I were this person with this person’s background in this situation?’”
As Joey Boveri put it, “You need to know your character's daily life so you can choose how it is impacted by the specific context of the scene.”
All of this character exploration is leading up to the performance you will have the opportunity to see on November 7, 8, and 9. The Friday performance will start at 4:00 pm, so students can come right after school and finish up in time for the Lovett-Westminster game.