Waltzing Mechanics

Chicago's Home for Documentary Theatre

Line One - The Group Mind

Some insight on the ensemble building work, from cast member Ross Compton: For the first couple of weeks, going to Line One rehearsals felt very much like attending a voice and movement class. There is no script. So each night brought a new plethora of exercises, goals, challenges and opportunities for me to make smart ass comments to try and make people laugh. (I’ll be seriously lucky to be cast in any future productions.)

What I have gleaned the most from this process is the importance of being connected to the rest of my cast mates, and how the success of Line One hinges upon that idea. We are working towards becoming a unit, to the point where we will instinctively know each other’s actions or movements without having to discuss it beforehand.

The exercise that I think will best describe this sense of unity for the purpose of this blog post is a simple one that we’ve done every week now. The eight of us will stand in a circle. After a few deep breaths-and perhaps a brief time of checking in with each other using eye contact- we will begin counting to a number given to us by Zack, one of our directors. Only one of us can say a number at a time, and there is no pre-set order or pattern. I remember attempting this counting game in college with minimal success. And true to those memories, we had a pretty rough go of it during our first week. We were supposed to count to 30 and it took us about seven or eight tries. By the end of the second week, we counted to 50 in two tries. What was remarkable to me was how easy it had become. Like second nature. It’s as if we had planned the order of when each number would be called out. But we didn’t. The delighted surprise at our swift completion of the exercise result in an impromptu hug-fest.

That’s right Virginia. There really is Group Mind.