It is in the rehearsal room where the real work happens. The actors, the director, and the playwright talk a lot about the play and what's happening, and how things are and perhaps how they should be. This is where we see what works, and more importantly, what doesn't work.
The actors move a lot, try different things, different actions, different ways of saying a line based on an internal motivation. They explore what causes them to say a line this way, rather than this other way? I'm in the room to give guidance (this is what I was thinking when I wrote this scene or this line) and also to gain even more insight into the script as it develops. This is new work, not something that's been staged time after time. Just for the record, some of think that's what makes it so much fun and exciting.
There is a lot of laughing and joking around in our rehearsal room. Part of the reason is that everyone likes one another and gets along. I also think it's because a lot of the material in Turtles in very deep and serious, and the actors need release from all of the emotional work that is demanded of them.
Because I am also acting as the artistic director on this project (the Boston Public Works' model is that each playwright works as the artistic director on his/her show), this particular production would reflect what a theater would be like if I ran it. Some playwrights simply want the actors to say the words they wrote, but in my artistic theatrical world, I want to hear from the actors and the director what is and isn't working for them. I like a more collaborative effort. You have to trust and respect the other artists in the room, and that their insight on a moment in the play is genuine and comes from a place that is grounded in their talent and theatrical expertise.
Already we've changed, deleted, or added a number of lines, and in one case about a half of an entire scene has been rewritten based on input from the actors. Sometimes a line just grates on me, and I know then and there it needs to be cut. Sometimes the input comes from me noticing how an actor might always stumble on a line, and I'll ask them what's up. In the case of the scene, I knew it wasn't really working, and I'm so glad that our rehearsal room seems to be a place where the actors feel safe to not only try bold choices in their work, but open up and share their own lives with all of us. It was in this manner that I was given a clue about how this particular scene would work better.