Rachael Joffred is playing Dorothy in the upcoming Off-Broadway Players production of The Wizard of Oz. We’ll be following along in the production process through her weekly entries.
Itʼs kind of a miracle that Iʼm even in this play and Iʼm really happy about it. Much to my chagrin I spent the majority of my life not knowing that Newfoundland even existed. I grew up in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania, graduated with a B.A. in Theatre: Acting and Directing from DeSales University in Central Pennsylvania, and spent the past few years working as a performing artist in Philadelphia and New York City.
My mother, Kathleen moved to Corner Brook nearly two years ago and I thought she was stark raving mad. This past July I travelled up to visit her with my sister, Genevieve, and realized that I was stark raving mad. Stark raving mad about Newfoundland. As we travelled up and down the breathtaking west coast, camped in Gros Morne, hiked mountains, swam in rivers, touched an iceberg, drank tea with tin milk, saw amazing shows at the Gros Morne Theatre and Music Festivals, and danced the night away to Sherman Downey and the Silver Lining—I realized there was no turning back. I couldn’t bear to be anywhere but here.
I applied to Grenfell in mid-July and by some miracle I managed to get accepted, pack, sort out my study permit, tie up loose ends at home, register for the (nearly) correct courses, and fly home to Corner Brook before the beginning of classes. After entirely too long, by a very happy accident, I happened to set up my student email account just in time to find out about the auditions for Off Broadway Playerʼs production of The Wizard of Oz. On the way to the audition I got lost several times and arrived late.
Itʼs a miracle that I live in Newfoundland right now, itʼs a miracle I found out about the audition in time, itʼs a miracle that I found the audition location in time, and Iʼm really thankful for this great opportunity and this amazing new chapter of life.
Now onto what Iʼm actually supposed to be writing about: our first week of rehearsals has been a blast! Our wonderful director, Jim Parsons, has us working very hard on these awesome memorization exercises so we can get off book and onto our feet quickly. This is by far my favorite approach to any rehearsal process Iʼve yet encountered.
Memorizing lines is probably one of the least appealing aspects of acting. Iʼve often felt like a crazy person having conversations with myself in my solitary memorization endeavors, and it can be jarring to try to mesh a scene together when several actors have been memorizing it in their own time, in their own head, in their own way.
When you are all in the same room and memorizing your lines together everything blossoms in a really smooth and natural way. You familiarize yourself with your lines for the first time by hearing the other actors speak and by making eye contact with them; which gives you a real face, voice, and character to communicate and associate the scene with. You are forced to think on your toes, which means youʼre focusing on the meaning of what youʼre trying to communicate rather than simply memorizing a sequence of words. The whole thing lends itself to a quicker, more effective memorization process and a better connection to the text and to your cast-mates. I love it!
Thatʼs all for now, Iʼm off to rehearsal! Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great day!
Other photos by Rachael Joffred.