Pictured: Actor Ellen Kirk who plays Vera Claythorne.
In this 3-part series, PerformInk takes you inside Kansas City Actors Theatre’s production of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes. To read past Inside articles click here.
By Ellen Kirk
The final dress rehearsal is the last time the cast and production crew share a performance all to themselves. Still incorporating new notes from a full weekend of tech, new costume pieces, and props, we are reminded to ͚enjoy ourselves͛ and off-we-go on a full run without stops, at performance speed, to a house of less than ten. There is a feeling of intimacy to it and, honestly, a bit of nostalgia. Three weeks of rehearsals may not seem like enough time to have earned that wistful affection for the past, but collaborating on a production – especially one of such complexity – really brings people together.
We began our process for ͞And Then There Were None͟ in Genessee Rehearsal Hall. Once a church, the building currently serves as an extension of the UMKC theatre department and rehearsal space for Kansas City Actors Theatre, it definitely holds a special energy as a creative space. The main hall boasts extraordinary tall ceilings complete with stained glass and a chandelier. We worked on a wooden floor taped out meticulously by stage management illustrating each platform and doorway our set would feature. When not on stage our gathering spot was a large oval dining room table usually decorated with an assortment of shared snacks (ensemble building is really just 89% snacking together).
After twelve days in the rehearsal hall, we had worked through every detail of the blocking and text, had at least three full run-throughs under our belts, and had become quite the jovial ensemble. Despite the dark and disturbing content of our play, laughter was ever present in the rehearsal room. On August 1st we to moved into Union Station. Our work continued to grow and change with the addition of things like actual stairs, furniture, the difference in acoustics and navigating the paths of backstage. Then tech came with the integration of lights and sound, and all of a sudden everyone is in full costume, and we finally return to the telling the story full of moments we have built together only just weeks ago in the old church with a taped-out wooden floor.
Following the final dress rehearsal, the general feeling is that in order to move forward we must have the addition of the most crucial element of the production: the audience. All along we have been building this production with the audience in mind but actually having warm bodies in seats (laughter, gasps, murmurs of speculation!) is an entirely different feeling. The audience directly informs how the play will continue to take shape – that’s why the preview process is invaluable – we get three chances to experience how three different houses will react to our work before presenting our opening night performance and beginning our run.
I think I can safely speak for the entire ensemble when I say that we are so thrilled and ready to share this production with the audiences of Kansas City. Join us… before it’s too late!
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE runs until Aug 27th. For more information visit kcactors.org.