Blocking, Bottles, and Baby Food by Jeffrey Binder

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Jeffrey Binder is playing Matt in THE GOD GAME.

Jeffrey Binder
Jeffrey Binder

It’s a pretty surreal experience to put up a play in 3 weeks. I came down with my partner and daughter a week and a half ago on the tail end of Christmas and I don’t feel as though I’ve poked my head up since getting here. Oh, I’ve taken the time to deal with some of the important stuff, such as where the nearest Dunkin Donuts is located so I can fill up on caffeine-infused goodness before rehearsal every morning. But other than that time has flown by and there is so much to do before we open next week.

Next week?! Yikes.

Suzanne’s play involves three people who are pretty much on stage the entire time. It clocks in at about an hour and a half and is a nudge over 80 pages of text. We have, in total, about 3 weeks to get it together and make it look shiny for the audience here in Naples.  That doesn’t mean just getting the lines down and learning where to move on stage, it means being intimate enough with our characters and their experience though the journey of the play that when you see us perform, it looks like we the actors are the ones thinking these thoughts and saying these words because they sprang from our own experience, our own being – in other words, we have to make it truthful. I’ve worked on new projects like this before, and while each one has been its own unique event, I have had a new wrinkle in my life that has greatly added to the challenge of tackling a new script.

Rehearsal of THE GOD GAME
Rehearsal of THE GOD GAME

I haven’t had to dig deeply into a new work on this tight of a deadline, complete with rewrites and discussion that changes our rehearsal course from day-to-day, since my partner Mike and I adopted our amazing little girl twenty months ago. It used to be that I would finish my 8 hour rehearsal day, clock out some time to enjoy a nice dinner with Mike and take a breather, then leisurely engage in working on memorizing lines and doing script work until I felt like hitting the sack to be bright-eyed and ready for the next day of rehearsal. HAH! Not anymore. Now I’m up early with bottles, diapers, toys and clothes. I’m rushing out the door to fill up on some iced tea before a day’s worth of rehearsal. Then it’s speeding back home to squeeze in some quality time with my little girl, feed her, get her ready for bed, do some physical exercise once she falls asleep, clean up the tornadic fallout that only a 20 month old can create, wash the dishes, and then cram in as much memorization and script time as I can before I collapse into bed praying she sleeps in juuust a little bit longer the next morning when the cycle begins again.

If you had asked me 2 years ago, I would have told you that memorizing 80 pages of dialogue in a couple of weeks while chasing a toddler around couldn’t be done. But it’s simply amazing how our bodies can not only physically adapt to a complete change in our life’s pattern, but also how our minds can prioritize and adjust to the overwhelming amount of chaos we throw at it.

Of course it helps that Suzanne’s play is stimulating, timely, funny, political, and just damned fun to do. It has a natural, actable rhythm to it that makes committing it to mind and body that much easier. That, and the fact that I’m working with such a talented director and amazing, intelligent, and hilarious cast that it can’t help but keep my focus on bringing something daily that adds to and deepens the experience. I’m confident in how this will all come together, and eager to see how the audience responds opening night. The roller coaster ride has been thrilling so far, so all I can hope to do is throw my arms in the air and enjoy the big drop.

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