Waltzing Mechanics

Chicago's Home for Documentary Theatre

Introducing Line One

Waltzing Mechanics is thrilled to present our next prime time documentary play, Line One.  Originally conceived by John Kaufmann, Line One is a unique theatrical experience, incorporating live actors, live callers, and a new theme every night.  As Kaufmann describes it:

Actors enter with cell phones, not knowing what the night will hold. Their job: to speak aloud whatever they hear through their earpieces. The phones start to ring and the real-time adventure begins. Spontaneous conversations, narrated journeys, and unique experiences overlap as each night’s theme emerges.

Each week, we will be documenting our rehearsal processing by posting blog entries authored by cast and production crew members.  This week, we begin with cast and Waltzing Mechanics ensemble member, Maggie Scrantom:

I attended undergrad at the University of Iowa with Line One creator John Kaufman, who was a grad student at the time. He provided me with the opportunity to participate in a Line One rendition during my time there. And this past Sunday in a cold room in Beloit WI, I viscerally recalled my love for this show as I was reintroduced to channeling. Channeling is the central conceit in Line one: a person calls the actor during the show, the actor answers, the person is given a prompt, the person answer the prompt, and the actor vocalizes everything they hear coming in on the call. Thus, the actor channels the person on the phone in order to share that person with the audience without that person ever stepping foot in the theatre. As an actor, I must trust my voice and body to be a vessel instantly filled with the thoughts and stories of another human. I have no time to prepare, I can only be. And as the caller sorted through their answer to the given prompt, I felt as though I too was sorting. We were taking the thought journey together, though none of the thoughts were actually my own.
This past year I was blessed to venture into the depth of some amazing female roles on stage and film. Tireless yet exhilarating, I felt that I hit a stride with my acting process and character development. I suppose I should never get too comfortable. After this first week of Line One rehearsals, I feel confronted with a new and exciting challenge. I have no character to discover or script to pour over. It is not about isolating and specifying parts of myself to bring a role to life because I do not know my role. I do not know who I will be channeling during any performance. All I can do is trust the group and be open. What a beautiful gift. I am supremely grateful to John Kaufman for dreaming up this mystical journey and the Mechanics for their bravery in leading us though the adventure.
Below are photos from our first rehearsal, a workshop with John Kaufmann in Beloit, WI: