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      DO I KNOW YOU? By Thomas Putnam

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      The Zoomed Staged Readings are over. The two-day HG yard sale is over. So it's all focus on THE LAST ROMANCE. We've been rehearsing for a few weeks now, and have been power-blazin' memorizing lines. The set hasn't been started. The lights haven't been hung. The poster is finished and will go up soon. And today I realized something: there are four people in this cast, and none of them knew each other before this play. Never crossed paths in life. 

      Gary Fizzano lives south of Morris and works in Bath, NY (and recently a lot from home.) Kathryn Sheneman lives near Roseville and just moved back to Tioga county a few years ago. Anne Acker just moved to Wellsboro three weeks ago from Coundersport. John Tobey Jr is a senior at MU from east of Scranton. Here are four complete strangers coming together for the common purpose of creating something good.

      Usually our rehearsals last between 2 and 3 hours. The great majority of the time is spent digging into the script. I tend to push for line memorization fast and early as it leaves more time for the characters to marinate in the actor's mind without having to be anxious about “what do I say next?” And as soon as one does not have to worry about what comes next, it's so much more natural to listen to the other person. Listening to the other.

      Listening to the other is part of the foundation of acting. Without it, one is just spouting off memorized meaningless words. But listening to the other opens the door for walking around in their skin for a while, and making the responses so much more natural.

      I said that the great majority of time in rehearsals has been spent on memorizing lines. Almost as much time is spent getting to know each other. Lots of talk about family, about personal history, about struggles in memorization, about ill grandchildren and healthy children and visiting children and visited children and wallpaper removal and hikes all over Tioga County and vaccinations and goats. Four complete strangers no more. The rehearsal process allows us to not only crawl around in the character's skin, but also in the other cast members' skin. Good stuff.  

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