When building projects with potentially hundreds of performers, one of the hardest parts is rehearsing. If you’ve ever tried to schedule a meeting with more than two people, I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is to find a common time for 100 — especially to rehearse something that you’ve never made before. How do you know how many people you need until you see them together? This might be called a catch-22. . .
We solved this problem during The Sea Pageant by breaking up the 100 performers into teams of 10 that rehearsed in isolation until the last day. While that worked well, our latest project, She Died for Our Convenience requires a different outcome, and it’s clear that the performers need to show up together more than once, which means we need to be really clear that we actually need that many people. But how to figure that out?
Lucky for us, we’re working with the excellent composer and organizer Chrissy Wolpert who suggested a month ago that we just invite as many people as we can tempt to come to the mill to just travel the paths we imagine the performers will travel and sing some songs. Hence our makeshift event Performance Testers at the Mill.
We were trying to make it happen before the weather turned super cold — we didn’t quite make it! But, around 20 enthusiastic and bundled people came and helped us see how beautiful this project will be. We fed them apple cider donuts, coffee, tea, and other snacks. Chrissy taught them a song we sang in rounds, we talked about the project, and walked the paths as a makeshift chorus.
I only got one pic of the day — and I almost didn’t even take that pic, but our lighting and video designer Andy Russ was all, “Don’t you want a picture???.” There’s more documentation from other folks, notably VSA Rhode Island. But look how happy everyone is after walking and singing around the mill!