TEN Rehearsal Recap #2: Samuel L. Jackson, Bechdel, and Nude Sleepwalking

With merkins and menstrual cup comparisons behind us, we moved into more enriching territory with the second rehearsal, which took place at precisely 1 PM on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at an undisclosed location in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Chairs do not exist at this location, except for an imposing vintage piece and a folding chair hiding in a corner for emergencies. 60% of the cast was in attendance, and we huddled in a cozy room on yoga mats and blankets, eating chips, salsa (out of an appropriately TEN-themed pig bowl), cauliflower risotto (both a vegan version and a non-vegan version embellished with goat cheese), and ginger snaps.

This rehearsal provided a chance to delve further into our own characters and our relationships with each other. Jade, for example, was originally getting inspiration from Samuel L. Jackson but later realized her character should be more stoic. Leah imagined Jade’s character wearing aviators and a mustache, which led to a discussion of the role of gender in the movie.

While the cast is entirely female, this is not stressed to viewers; characters fit into a number of stereotypes commonly associated with both genders. “Female becomes the new normal,” said Jade, noting that the roles don’t really come across as gendered. Dalya pointed out, however, that despite the female cast, the film technically fails to pass the Bechdel test, which identifies gender bias in works of fiction. Condition #1 is not met: none of the characters is named. Conditions #2 and #3 are met with flying colors, though. The women talk to each other about things other than men. Many things. Murderous things.

Like at the previous rehearsal, this session itself becomes an extension of the fluidity of identity present in the plot. With four actresses missing, most in attendance temporarily take on an additional role, occasionally engaging in dialogue with themselves.

We left rehearsal tasked with thinking about the tension between our character and others. Who do we like? Who don’t we like? For example, my character is, shall we say, somewhat smug in a book-smart way, and she therefore experiences tension with several less educated folks but appreciates the academic leanings of Susannah’s character. We also left anticipating that we’ll find greater ease becoming our characters when we’re no longer sitting in a circle reading from scripts.

It is also important to make note of the fact that one actress sleepwalks. She has promised to try to remember not to sleep naked during the shooting week.

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