The first rehearsal, the read through, is actually where I feel the most comfortable. I can make ridiculous choices, nobody cares, and nobody will really judge because they are too busy wondering what you think about them. Plus, there's no strain of "where do I stand, where do I move, what's my line again?" I feel like I can go with impulses and make choices and try things. It's when I get on my feet that I start to feel stiff and wooden, like I'm trying too hard.
Part of it might be that once I have found something, I like to stick with it, even to the point where the impulse is no longer authentic. I operate on instinct and have a regrettable tendency to get bored with myself. I get self-conscious later in the process, as opposed to becoming more confident. If I were to diagram it, my process might be:
1. Initial receiving of script: abject terror. Why did I decide to do this? All the time eaten up in a rehearsal process, and really I'm not that good an actor, I have no idea why I keep putting myself through this.
2. First reading: Oh, hey, you know, I'm pretty fucking good at this. I love reading. I'm making choices, getting laughs, trying things. Yeah, this is gonna work out awesome.
3. Rehearsal process: Oh, God, why did I say I would do this? I'm a fraud, obviously. The only reason I haven't been called out on it is that the director is trying to make the best of a bad situation. Jesus.
4. Memorization: why did I smoke so much pot in college? My brain is a fucking sieve! (unless it's Shakespeare, which is remarkably easy to memorize for me). Please God, don't let me go up like I did at that summer stock theater that one time. Jesus.
And if I'm lucky:
5. dress rehearsals: Oh, this isn't so bad. yeah. There might be some moments here and there that are working. OK, I get it, I get it.
And if I'm VERY lucky:
6. End of Run: Oh, man, I'm just really starting to nail it every time. Shit, can't we extend? They love us! C'mon, man! Just one more show.
We enter phase 3 tonight. Pray for me, bitches.
BTW, without indicating why, I would like to say I am also a little worried about the show coming to completion, given the recent economic downturn. Cash Rules Everything Around Me, dollar-dollar bill, y'all. Here's hoping this show gets off the ground.