Making (and breaking) the “Fourth Wall”…

172e5f6246b411e3847022000aeb0b98_6This is no proscenium stage production.

When we first started staging rehearsals, Yuval Sharon (Director) began with what seemed to be unrelated acting games. We were instructed to go into a room, choose the first prop we gravitated to, then enter the rehearsal space and “create a story” with the prop. As a singer/actor, I call these “throw yourself under the bus” moments. You cannot be self conscious, you have to just act. Not “act” as in “acting”, but “act” as in “active”. The next steps involved the production crew doing things to try to distract us from our story and various interactions with each other. What seemed to be seemingly unrelated became quite clear when we went to our first staging rehearsal at the Station. Very quickly we realized that what Yuval had been doing was helping us build our own personal “Fourth Wall”. In a proscenium theater there is a physical barrier, even if it is just the spacial difference between seats and no seats. Here there was none. Our first interactions were with (as we have mentioned) the “residents” of the Station. We had to use a combination of intense concentration and diffusion in order to not be distracted. On top of it all, our only connection with the conductor/orchestra was our in ear monitors (IEM), and often we would be singing a duet or quartet with cast members we couldn’t even see. This added another whole layer of concentration.

As we continued to rehearse and the locals became used to us, it was easier to build your own imaginary proscenium around yourself. That totally changed the first night we had an audience. There was so much more to distract, so many more people, movement, traffic…But, it again got easier. I expected this cycle to continue, only, it hasn’t. Each night brings a completely new environment. The audience is hugely responsible for this. Sometimes they are reluctant voyeurs, sometimes like bulldog reporters. Each audience has a different feel and, as such, creates a completely different setting for the Opera. Because of this, it has become increasingly difficult to stay focused and even more difficult to not drift into unmotivated complacency. The “Fourth Wall” has become more and more permeable. The problem with this is brought into sharp focus because of a very special moment in the Opera, the breaking of the wall.

Each show is a journey, not only for each audience member, but for each cast member as well. In order to maintain the isolation and individuality of that journey, the “Fourth Wall” must remain intact, no matter how porous it has become. However, in the last scene, it is each of our job to search through “the inferno” and discover those who “are not the inferno”. This is a real “reach out and touch someone” moment where the wall that has been there for the whole show must be drawn aside. And, this is the moment that has become the greatest motivation to keep the wall intact, no matter how difficult, no matter what the distraction. This moment, the moment when the “Fourth Wall” is shattered, is the moment when human connection is re-established and the true meaning of the Invisible City becomes real.

@Steve_Anastasia (Twitter)


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