Amy Kossow, Word for Word Performing Arts charter member, has been involved with the development of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven since the beginning. Now, as an actor in the forthcoming world-premiere production, she blogs from inside the rehearsal room.
Day One was a revelation, in many ways. First and foremost was the huge community presence. I expected a table session with cast and director and was blown away by the participation of the extended family of Cal Shakes: tech staff, box office, admin, teaching staff, creative team members, board members, former board members, avid supporters, actors, writer, dramaturg, music, such awesome support and a wonderful reminder of the community nature of theater. Day One was also a revelation for the first hearing of the script. I have been dreaming about this moment for two years, imagining the book opening and the characters standing up and walking about. Octavio Solis has magically seduced the play from the book, and we can now release the book from the process and live in the Pastures of Heaven.
Rehearsals continue apace. The three-story set set showed up on Day Two and blocking commenced immediately. We are proceeding neck or nothing, have choreographed the best part of Act One and now have tackled Act Two. Today is the story of Junius Maltby. There is a goat. Dan Hiatt, JoAnne Winter, and Charlie Robinson are dipping their feet into the water discussing horse-happiness while a chorus of old biddies (me and Richard [Thieriot] and Andy [Murray] and Catherine [Castellanos]) peck and squawk at them. Costume pieces are beginning to show up, which inform our choices immediately. Jon is miraculouly inventive. There is a moment with sheaves of wheat. Honestly, so gorgeous. And the sheer fun of it all as we add a hat and instantly become a new character: a neighbor, a hen, a child, a baby, a farmer, a teacher, a ghost… all accomplished simply. Agghh! There are donuts! Mad stampede!