Thursday, September 27, 2012


So, here's something I never thought would be interesting, but that I find fascinating:

The daily rehearsal notes I am suddenly receiving in my inbox.

I mean, of course there are notes, right? That makes perfect sense. And of course they get sent somewhere (if a note is taken and doesn't get sent, does it exist?) But it never occurred to me where they would go and, despite all the behind-the-scenes work I have done at WFT since 1992 (!!) now for the first time, I am privy to these little snippets.

It almost feels like I am reading someone's diary. All of this inside information about blocking and staging and lighting. Who was present at rehearsal, who was excused, who complained about parking (note: everyone. Have you seen the parking sitch at WFT?) But, what I am finding the most fascinating, really, are the notes on lyric changes.

I remember when I was an undergrad and WFT produced Peter Pan. The show was, naturally, extremely well-received and audiences raved. But I did hear a tiny bit of buzz about how the word "Christmas" had been removed from the part where Michael (the littlest Darling sibling) was calling out all the things that made him happy so he could fly. It was my understanding then that the producers had made that decision to make the show more universally appealing and respectful. They had decided to take out the word to level the field, or so to speak, and frankly, it didn't change the story or the plot at all.

See, this is what I love about WFT. They're thinking. They're conscientious. They're considerate of their audiences and, actually, of the public at large. Was it necessary to take out "Christmas?" Probably not. (I know that I, as a Jew, would not have been offended.) But does the removal of that word exemplify a thoughtfulness and awareness that is often overlooked in theatre? It sure does. The powers that be at Wheelock Family Theatre think about their patrons. They think about who's listening and watching and how seeing live theatre is going to make them feel. They think about making casting choices and lyric and line changes that are so minute you might not even notice them, but that, if they weren't changed, might affect your experience. And what's more, they are smart about it. They know just how to alter things in a way that will not affect the integrity of the original work. They know, for example, that referring to a character as "atrocious" instead of as "a hussy" is not going to make any difference to the story, but will have a real impact on the kind of experience parents will have with their children in the audience.

It is this kind of careful social awareness that I love about WFT. And I'm so glad I got the chance to peek into the "rehearsal diary" to be reminded.

What about you? What do you love about WFT that is special and unique?

1 comment:

  1. For me it is the multicultural casting. I have seen theater all over the US and I have never seen a place that does it as well as WFT. I have even been criticized for my doing it in High School shows I have directed......I was brought up at WFT and don't know another way and honestly struggle when people are so blocked when it comes to it.......I am thankful for the professional theater lens that WFT gave me!


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