Bronxville High School students – who will present the romantic comedy “Almost, Maine” as their fall production – welcomed the play’s playwright John Cariani to their school on Oct. 29. During his visit, Cariani helped them rehearse their scenes, shared insight about the play and discussed his inspirations behind the characters and setting.
“Almost, Maine” is comprised of nine interrelated vignettes that all take place under the northern lights on the same night in a remote and fictitious town in Maine, called Almost.
“Cariani patiently invited each of the nine scene partners to run through the beginnings of each of their scenes several times, offering tips and suggestions,” theater director Robert Cross said. “One of the biggest takeaways was the importance of filling the silence – not relying on the play’s language alone, but trusting that the quiet, silent moments were not only interesting in and of themselves, but integral to establish character.”
During the rehearsal, the students practiced extending awkward moments, such as when two exes meet unexpectedly, when a stranger parks on your lawn or when a boyfriend won’t answer your repeated calls.
“Our young actors already had good handles on their characters, but it was so refreshing to see them confidently extend those characterizations into the silent space,” Cross said.
Students said Cariani’s advice and direction helped them further understand their characters and helped them envision what life would be like in the fictional town of Almost.
“Not only did working with Cariani help me better understand my character, Gayle, and her mindset, but he also helped me think through and become more confidant with my acting choices,” junior Alexandra Bruno said. “An in-depth discussion with him about Gayle’s motives revealed a more intricate side of the character, and running the scene felt much more raw and authentic after working with him.”
Performances are on Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Bronxville School auditorium. Tickets are $10. They will be available at the door and can be purchased ahead of time at www.eventbrite.com/e/almost-maine-by-john-cariani-tickets-51522263477.