The Full Circle
with Assistant Director Noah Coon
Follow the cast and crew of The Caucasian Chalk Circle through the entire rehearsal process with nightly blog entries from Assistant Director Noah Coon.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle plays in the Marian Gallaway Theatre October 3-8.
September 21-Rehearsal 23
“I think that’s a big thing about my character and this play as a whole; it’s the
question of ‘if not me, then who’?”-Alaric Rohl
Annie made her reappearance tonight!!! She led everyone through some brief
warm-ups before we undertook the task of running through the show. The designers
sat in again to see the blocking and music so they would have a grasp of what they
would need to do regarding set, lights, and sound. Overall, it went swimmingly, and
we cut down on time exponentially in just one night. Also, the music is astounding. I
go home and sing the songs, they are that catchy which is a curse and a blessing.
Once everything comes together, this is going to be an astounding production for
The quote/excerpt of the night isn’t as comedic as it usually is. It came from a
story that Alaric told Annie and myself about when he was younger and thinking
about his future. The adage “If not me, then who?” was one of the underlying principals
instilled at one of the options he had been interested in. This, he told us, was
something he felt translated into his and many of the characters within this piece;
“Terrible is the seductive power of goodness”, a line from the narrator, keyed him
into this idea that the play poses the question of succumbing to that goodness
people feel because what if no one else does. It was an insightful commentary on
the underlying theme and intention behind this production, and it is definitely
something that still needs to be asked in our world today.
September 20-Rehearsal 22
“Noah, do you want to carry the dead body to stage left?”-Tatiana Sousa
Annie was absent today for personal reasons, so in her place we ran
rehearsal and took notes for her when she returns. Our musicians were also able
to be here, working with a few of the actors on their songs while people warmed
up and went through fight call, led by Ian, for the first hour.
At 7 we began our first full run of the show. Even though off book day isn’t
until tomorrow, we requested that everyone try the run off book so that we could
get a better feel on time and to help move them away from depending on their
books before we go into tech next week. Rehearsal ended near the end of Act IV,
pushing our time a bit too far, but something that will be cut down once the
transitions between scenes and everyone knows there lines.
September 19-Rehearsal 21
“No one is consistent with Oxford commas!”-Annie Levy
Tonight we worked through the wedding and funeral scene of Act III some
more. There were some issues with blocking regarding the wall that we don’t
have yet and where people would be standing such as possibly in the wall. Along
with working through this, we ran the second half of the show. Most everybody
was off book for it already and those that were only needed line on a few things
like spoken stage directions and parts of the songs.
9/18/17 – Rehearsal 20
“Stop flirting with the musicians and pay attention!” – Annie Levy
Tonight was a good review and practice night. We began with fight call led by Jackie; she worked with the different groups to hammer out the timing and help them get more comfortable with “hitting” each other. Our male swing, Ethan Montgomery, also go to partake in fight call since one of the cast members was taken ill.
After fight call, we had a short break then began a run of the first half of the show. This was the first time that the cast has run this half with the wagons and with a majority of them being off book. The cast got to use this a major opportunity to delve into their many characters.
9/15/17 – Rehearsal 18
“Watch out guys, we gave the first year an axe.” – Annie Levy
Rehearsal started out with a lot of work on character relationship for Alex and Ian. Annie had them improv while in character, establishing a history for their characters and how they feel towards each other. It really helped them ground themselves in their characters and learn to play off of each other. After their improv, we worked through a scene from Act IV that focuses on bandits and a cow. The blocking had to be changed from what it previously was, the timing for characters speaking, and the use of the axe.
Once the rest of the cast got here we spent time teaching them how to operate our wagon/carts. They were all taught how to operate the braking system on the carts and then practiced maneuvering them on stage, first empty and then with the cast members that ride them on top. Following our driving lesson, we did two runs of Act IV to integrate the new changes in blocking and see how the character work had helped Alex and Ian.
9/14/17 – Rehearsal 17
“This is the closest thing I’m going to do to a Hamilton-esque moment. Enjoy it.” – Annie Levy
Finally, we are done!!! Well, not done but done with the blocking at least. Or about all of it. We finished up Act V tonight though it of course is going to need some cleaning up as will the entire play, but it’s done. It was a great rehearsal; it started with a read through of the last Act before we blocked it, of course. Our talented understudies got to stand in while Joseph and Cindy worked with the musicians on all of their pieces, and we even got to go into some violence for this act. Jackie came and led Kat, Auren, and Ian through the stage combat for the beginning of the Act. It looks so good already and once they get the rhythm down and some practice it’ll be pretty convincing that they are actually beating Ian.
Tomorrow will be more of the same, just working through Act V and cleaning things up, but by this time next week we will be off book and working through the entire show! I guess I should mention that we aren’t using the cute rehearsal Michael (our star) anymore, but the frame of the new puppet. He has a lot more versatility in movement but none of the charm as of right now.
9/13/17 – Rehearsal 16
Rehearsal was pretty straightforward tonight. I wouldn’t call it basic or bland due to the fact that all of Act IV is a wild ride with some interesting tales of law and justice, but we did not do much outside of working though the Act. Our lovely ASM Tatiana had to stand in for a sick cast member, which was amazing. Okay, it was mostly amazing to hear her speak like the character, which is very unlike her normal self.
Tomorrow we begin blocking the final Act of the show. Starting out it seemed like a lot to get done in a very short amount of time, but we are days ahead of schedule and soon everyone is going to be off-book before that date too. Honestly, the speed and professional commitment of this cast in preparing the show is still impressive.
9/12/17 – Rehearsal 15
“I have a dagger in my boot!” – Annie Levy
Ahead of schedule and ahead of ourselves, we have almost finished blocking the play. Tonight we worked through the first half of the Act IV that we had blocked last night. That went smoothly and still as funny as the first times we did it, but the best part came from the rest of the night. There is some serious subject matter that is broached that took some working around. Not that it doesn’t acknowledge the issues of characters revealed but finding the way to address these in a manner easily taken in and with some humor to help the medicine was a major goal of the night.
Having sat through and watched everyone’s input on how to handle it, I know that it was done in what is the best manner for this cast and production space. Also, because trying to figure out the best English translation can get difficult and sometimes you have to make one up that isn’t as dreary as the original German. Also watching Alaric and Joseph playing different characters from what they have been previously (and some of those characters having to crawl around the stage) is beyond funny. Act IV down and tomorrow we are going to get to work through the whole thing; UA’s students and faculty are making short work out of a big piece.
9/11/17 – Rehearsal 14
“This character is definitely the product of incest.” – Annie Levy
It’s an exciting week in rehearsal. We are over halfway through blocking the play and started on Act IV tonight. Kelley came back tonight to continue working on movement with our actors; they and the production is benefiting so much from all the work she and the actors are putting into their movements, finding ways to better convey the intention of their words through the movements that are being conducted. This Act is one of the funniest with some despicably gross characters making their first appearance. Namely, is the show’s antihero Azdak. Ian has been having a lot of fun with this character’s ridiculousness and somewhat vile nature.
We blocked the first two scenes of the Act having a lot of fun along the way. Kyle Van Frank gets to play a hilarious new character and even better Ian gets to play a man playing the character of Kyle. The audience will for sure enjoy seeing the absurdity of these characters Brecht has given us put onto the stage.
9/10/17 – Rehearsal 13
“This show is going to get its own rating.” – Annie Levy
Tonight we did our first full run of the Prologue and Acts I-III with the music. All of the designers sat in to watch the progress and takes notes on what they need to keep in mind as they continue working towards tech and opening night. I spent the evening taking notes for the cast for Annie and attempting to figure out how to separate the scenes since they are not differentiated in the script.
There were a few hiccups with music, this being the first time that we have done a run through Act III with it, and some transition issues that were missed, but it was overall a great night. Everyone did really well, bringing to life some of the bizarre characters in this play and delivering a great performance for the designers.
9/8/17 – Rehearsal 12
“My bed is the circle of life.” – David Derringer
Tonight was a quick rehearsal. Not in the length, though we did finish early, but in the amount covered. We started with our standard warm-ups and then moved on to working through the first half of Act III. Most of the blocking had been done last night, so it was working out kinks in that occupied the first half or so of rehearsal.
Next came finishing up the Act. While most of it had been done, we still had about a quarter or so to block and putting David in a bucket was probably the simplest part. Yes, a literal bucket. That makes it sound a lot more complicated than it was, the most difficult part for the cast to figure out was transitioning from scenes since there are so many things that need to be moved off. Also, probably the second most difficult, was for Emily to let go of the puppet Michael. Already, he has become the star of our show and hearts; at least, he has become the star for some of us.
9/7/17 – Rehearsal 11
“Never undervalue a play” – Annie Levy
It’s the Assistants’ show tonight. Not actually true but we did get to lead the cast in their warm ups while Annie and Amanda Manos were in the production meeting. Amanda Harris led us in a new and humorous one that had several people (myself included) on the floor acting like a cockroach, but is it really theatre if you don’t have to act like an animal at some point?
Annie had everyone run the Prologue again, adding in some new pieces towards the beginning and adjusting some small tidbits on delivery of lines. We also worked more with the music performed by the cast that helps provide the proper ambience for events happening in the show. Also, we began the blocking of Act III ahead of schedule. We are planning to finish up Act III tomorrow and be ready to do our stumble through Sunday or Monday. It’s weird that we are already halfway through the show in what seems like no time at all.
9/6/17 – Rehearsal 10
“I have no time for fear.” – Annie Levy
Tonight was an exciting time. UA Theatre and Dance faculty Kelley Schoger came to rehearsal to begin working on movement with the cast. Several members got to spend some one-on-one time learning to how to better move on the stage and within their character and blocking. Colin and Kilian, our musicians, were also present today to work with the cast on their songs for Acts I and II.
We did a full run through of the Prologue, Act I, and Act II tonight. This included everything we have worked on so far, especially the music, which had not been included in Act II until tonight. It was also the first time one of our cast got to see Act II worked all the way through. Once we finished our run, Annie gave out notes to the cast and we called it a night.
9/5/17 – Rehearsal 9
“The aggression might be saved by the singer. Life is strange.” – Annie Levy
A lot of time spent tonight was on cast warm-up and getting to know each other. First they were split into pairs of people that didn’t know each other exceptionally well, sort of like a speed date, so that they could open up and learn more about people they weren’t friends with prior. The other new warm-up was a name game, one that I have played in my acting class as many have I assume, which consists of throwing a ball (or in this case a kneepad) to each other while in a circle. The key is naming the person you are throwing the object to so you learn names. This is easy in concept but when you have three or four things going around the circle it becomes difficult to keep track.
Other than the warm-ups and games, we worked through Act II blocking and then performed a stumble through of Act I and Act II. Act II required a good bit of adjustment regarding some positions and technical aspects of stage positions. Finally, we did a run of Act I and II, getting a grip on the estimated time of each Act and seeing how all of the adjusted blocking works on stage. Tomorrow is going to be our final stumble through before we begin working on Act III and then we will have finished up the first half of the play!
9/4/17 – Rehearsal 8
Tonight we worked with Emily and Cindy for the first part of the evening; Annie helped them in establishing their relationship towards each other, running them through exercises in hypnosis and body positioning.
After working on their character relationship, we began blocking the final scene of Act II. Next on the agenda, once the blocking was finished, was calling the entire cast on for a hilarious warm-up that covers almost every combination of letters that would be used in speech. Hearing the cast scream about 7,000 Macedonians in full battle array and trying not to twist their tongues is honestly one of the funniest experiences.
Annie then had the cast do an exercise where they had to carry other members across the space of the stage in various ways. This was before attempted to figure out how to form a bridge. Out of ourselves. It was a wild attempt to come up with the best way that we could have a character cross a swaying bridge. We saw everything from swinging people around to having someone walk upon backs. The final product of this show is going to be exciting among other things.
9/3/17 – Rehearsal 7
“Maybe it’s baguettes? No, it’s a baby.” – Annie Levy
We finally began moving the blocking of Act II onto the stage. We worked through the first few scenes that we began blocking in the rehearsal previously. Once we had regained ahold of the sense of direction that had been established, it was mostly a matter of handling a few hiccups and technical aspects in the blocking. It was also important that Zach got back his lecherous nature that his character had on Friday.
There were around three new scenes that we had to work on and that the cast got a workout from. The soldiers have to march in place for a scene, definitely getting in their daily cardio in the process, and introducing some new villains into the narrative.
It was a lot of work, moving from scene to scene quickly and working out a lot of small incidents and some minor falls for the play, but we managed to accomplish almost all of the blocking of Act II tonight. It won’t be long before we have worked through the first half of the play!
9/1/17 – Rehearsal 6
“You’re on a wagon full of SACKS!!!” – Annie Levy
Tonight we did a complete stumble through of the Prologue and Act I. There were a few hiccups along the way with figuring out movement of set pieces and delivery of lines, but it was a quick stumble through taking in consideration of the stops that we had.
After our stumble through, several of the actors stayed back to work with Collin and Kilian on their music, and the group for the first scenes of Act II went upstairs to read through and begin blocking. Annie led the group through some character work, helping the actors better identify ways in which these characters differ from the others they will play.
Tonight was also our fantastic Stage Manager Amanda Manos’s birthday. Our cast and the cast of We Are Proud to Present surprised her with a song and some deserts for everyone during a break. It was a nice respite from all the hard work of the evening and the week on both casts’ ends.
8/31/17 – Rehearsal 5
“We are going to need a lot of spears.” – Annie Levy
Tonight we did our first stumble through of Act I. Even though we ran into a few rough patches on moving boxes, they were quickly resolved by the combined creative efforts of the cast and Annie. It was an interesting time trying to get through a scene and stopping to find out we were missing a spear or someone was trying to do three things at once.
Even with the looming concerns of tornados, everyone put in their maximum effort to help in setting the blocking for the beginning of this amazing and often funny piece. I spent some time working with two of our lovely cast members, Alex Rapp and Clarice Westover, on creating a notable, visual difference between their characters interactions throughout Act I.
Tomorrow we are going to work on polishing off the prologue and Act I before moving onto Act II. The speed at which everyone is picking up on Annie’s directions and making this piece come to life is astounding but not completely unexpected from what is proving a phenomenal cast!!!
“Those chairs are smiling at me.”-Annie Levy
Tonight, we began by working with cast members Joseph and Emily, blocking their scene together in
Act I as Simon and Grusha. After a short break once we had finished blocking out their
scene, we began the task of finishing out the first Act’s blocking.
In-between all the laughter and jokes from Megan Hill’s character being a little too in
love with her clothes and Zach Stolz spending some time in a barrel, the cast made
short work of implementing Annie’s vision onto the stage. We even got to spend the end
of rehearsal with one of our amazing composers, Kilian Afzalirad, providing original
When we had accomplished our task of blocking out Act I for tomorrow’s stumble
through, the entire cast and rehearsal crew gathered around to sing for Elizabeth Thiel
and surprise her and the other cast members with some cake for her birthday. It was a
very cheerful end to a long and productive evening.
August 29, 2017-Rehearsal 3
“Why make things simple when you can make things extra complicated?”-Annie
“Does it make you uncomfortable? Good. If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re
not doing anything.” -David Bowie
Rehearsal 3!!! Props!!! Shaking legs as cast member Cindy makes noises to warm up to cast!
It was a high-energy night, and the cast really brought it for rehearsal. The nightly
warm up Annie asked put the cast on a grid in order for them to think about
movement and how their characters were to move.
Annie began guiding our cast through blocking of Act I tonight. The cast picked
up on what she wanted with exceptional speed and provided some interesting
insights into what they felt their characters would do, such as Cindy feeling that
her character would want to be sitting in a more optimal place to see on the
stage. Blocking went well and everyone is excited to finish tomorrow night and
then begin working with music for this Act.
August 28, 2017-Rehearsal 2
“Cheese is really important.”-Annie Levy
Our second rehearsal began with a cast look at the set model, presented by
Andy Fitch, so that the cast could see what they would be working with and start
rehearsing with that in mind. This was followed by a run through of costumes and
a visit from Theatre Management.
After our visit from the designers, we began by finishing our Act II and Act III
before going into warm-ups. Annie led the cast in an improv warm-up focusing on
the idea of returning home and what that would mean. She had each actor find a
starting point and move to the stage keeping in mind the idea of them returning
home after two years away. As they found themselves and what they were
looking for they were to begin singing; this singing turned into something akin to
raw emotion being put on display by our wonderful cast.
Once the cast felt warmed up enough and in the mindset of seeking their home,
a major theme from the production, we began the task of blocking our prologue.
Blocking went smoothly and we finished early enough to spend time polishing it
before ending our second rehearsal.
August 27, 2016-Rehearsal 1
“Perhaps the role of theatre isn’t to involve itself with providing the answer but in
asking the question.”-Annie G. Levy
Director Annie G. Levy began our first rehearsal with a cast and crew introduction
and the question of what home is. Though there were a variety of answers, the
resounding response was that home is what is known, whether that is a family or
a place or a feeling. The cast and crew partook in a roundtable reading of
Brecht’s work, immersing us in his play and the land of Grusinia.
After finishing our read through, our Dramaturg Steve Burch and Assistant
Dramaturg Kelsey Bruce led us in an exploration of Brecht’s history and epic
Following the presentations about Brechtian theatre, the cast began a read
through in character of the Prologue and Act 1 before ending our first rehearsal.
The spirits are high and everyone is excited to dig deeper into the text and work
hard on this fantastic production!