"Put your left foot in,
Your left foot out,
Your left foot in,
And shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey
And turn yourself around.
That's what it's all about ..."
DAY 113: Certainly the most tedious job for a stage director is blocking ... it's definitely the most time-consuming part of the task. It's an unfortunate necessity, though, before actors learn their lines and the real fun of directing the ACTING can begin. Blocking, or instructing the actors where and how to move and when to make the moves, is essentially choreography. It's an artful dance, creating pictures with bodies on stage, while making sure that no one is hidden behind set pieces, furniture, or other actors, and also insuring that the audience's eye is drawn to the person who should be "in focus" in the scene.
The first week or two of rehearsals for a play is typically devoted to blocking (in musicals, it usually starts with learning the music PRIOR to any blocking). A number of directors will approach a show with the "move the way you think you would" technique, of which I'm not terribly fond ... and I frankly think it's poor direction. When I block a show, it's VERY specfic - "move to the right of the table after you say the line and sit on the left end of the settee when you say the word ..." You get the idea.
Unfortunately, this must be all worked out ahead of time to be truly effective. So what am I grateful for today? As of today, ALL of my blocking for Our Leading Lady will be planned and I can relax a little, enjoying the actors as they bring their characters to life "dancing" their way through the scenes to the steps I have given them.