Profanity from page to stage, a view from the Assistant Director


Bruce DuBose, Michael Federico, and Alex Organ in rehearsal

With Profanity‘s last preview tonight, I thought it might be interesting to write about the rehearsal process from my perspective as an Assistant Director. Countless hours and numerous people are devoted to getting a show on its feet and ready in time for Opening Night. As Assistant Directors, we do everything from just observing the rehearsal process, to standing in for absent actors, to taking line notes.

We started the rehearsal process with a “table read”, where the actors and production team sit down and read the play straight through with the stage directions. Besides the actors and production team, our table read also included our designers, several Undermain staffers, and last but not least, by the playwright, Sylvan Oswald. This reading provides an opportunity for everyone working on the show to hear the entire play out-loud for the first time and to start getting to know one another. Since Sylvan was in town, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know him and learn more about his background, which has helped us understand more of the action of the play.

After the first read, we jumped right into scene work and staging the action of the play. With the columns in Undermain’s space, finding the right staging can be tricky. We have two Assistant Directors working on the show and we try to sit in a different seat each rehearsal so we can check sight lines and make sure everyone in the audience can see what is happening!

As we’ve moved through the rehearsal process, we’ve added design elements gradually. Starting with props so that actors can get used to using them on stage, we then added some of the lights and some sound, and finally, during this last week before opening, we added costumes to the mix. In addition to all of this, actors have been working on accents, fight choreography, and getting into the rhythm of the text.

It has been a unique opportunity to be part of this process and to witness the transformation of a never-before-seen play from page to stage. We can’t wait to add the final component…the audience!

~Brittany Johnson,  Undermain Emerging Artist