This blog entry was written by Crystal Anne Dickinson, who plays Hope in Signature Theatre's The First Breeze of Summer.
Spirituality is a tremendous aspect of Leslie Lee’s The First Breeze of Summer, and our director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, made it a big part of our rehearsal process. Inspirational quotes and images dominated the walls of our rehearsal room and at the beginning and end of each rehearsal day everyone in the room was invited to gather in a circle to say a word of prayer, reflection, or thanksgiving. It is an experience I have never had in a rehearsal room, but one I would love to have again. In my opinion, art and religion rarely meet. Perhaps it has something to do with the theatre’s commitment to individuality and free thought, or the fact that many adopt the theatre as their religion. Nevertheless, here in our rehearsal room, these ideas seem to lovingly coexist.
The difference between some of the stage work I have done in the past and the work I am doing in my New York debut with First Breeze is the willingness of each and every individual to do whatever is asked of them, from the interns, production crew and designers, to the actors of whom I am a part. During this process, Ruben has asked us to “explore the meaning of what God is” and tell a story about “love, spirituality and family”. Thus, we are all met with the challenge to connect with something spiritual, and, as I said, and all were up for the task.
Today was our last day in the rehearsal space and on Tuesday we will all meet in the theatre for the first time. My hope is that all who come to see our work will have the privilege of feeling the “spirit” we created in the rehearsal room, because it is something that I will take with me when the curtains close.