This just in: Kids like food fights.
…The Student matinee this week (our 10th show in 11 days so far), was full of Elementary fidgeters, College ASL reps, and Teachers…which showed obvious divide in content appreciation until it came to the giant breakfast battle, wherein everyone became immediately 5 years old and hypnotized by the fact that two people were slopping around with this much goop on total purpose.
…How much we consume and throw around on stage is pretty staggering, frankly, (as provided by our tireless prop-mistress, and cleaned up by our beautiful tech team), and contains as follows:
50 biscuits, 5 dozen scrambled eggs, 5 packs of mashed potatoes, several pans of fried potatoes, 75 pieces of bacon, one bone-in ham, 30 corn muffins, 2 cakes – one coffee crumb, one white chocolate ganache-drizzled, 5 bags of green beans, 4 glasses of milk, many pitchers of water, and several fistfuls of candy. PER WEEK.
…I dunno where the hell that skinny kid puts it all, or what keeps her from puking all over everything when I continually haul her up by her guts and fling her around…but I know I’m certainly taking in the bare minimum as necessitated per the scenes. Just keeping water down with that much action in a corset is pushing it at times, but the point I suppose is that the bulk of it never makes it in a mouth at all… rather becoming graffiti about the stage, smashed into costumes, crumbed on blankets, plastered on floors and table tops, sludged on chairs, my sunglasses, our hair, and (with amazingly few instances) audience members.
As to the amount of damage we do, relocating intermission became a necessity…cutting the show in such a way as to show a fairly set divide between the more humorous and youth-filled first half and the exhausted, dogged-and-determined second. As our run stands, the nightmares which have haunted Annie in spurts begin to slam at her directly at the top of act two, launching her further into self-doubt and a sense of impending failure if not for solving a total lack of discipline from her pupil (and most importantly her constantly-placating family.) A cut I originally disliked, (but obviously understood the reasoning for), I have now with performance, begun to embrace.
…What this means is a shift from prominent physical battle in act one, to mental battle in act two…though both are present throughout the show in fits and starts. Act two has become where the bulk of the “acting” comes in…where the weariness and battle of inner demons comes to the front over fists of food and face slaps, and it is also the only instance in the entire show where we are able to tackle the words of the piece without being slammed with the constant technical work going on all around us. One scene… with just myself and the Kellers in a room with no walls, no furniture, not a single prop to be seen. Just three people: working organically off one another, passing the ball back and forth as we fight each in our own way, for the soul of this small person.
…It has become my favorite part of the performance. Not for the gravitas and tears shed…but for the lock-and-load workmanship with two fine actors who know their shit, and don’t ever let go of their particular rein and purpose and intent no matter which way they get pulled by the other two in the scene.
…None of which should show disservice to my Helen. You couldn’t if you tried. She’s a regular ball-buster of performing determination.
…But after chasing her about non-stop for over an hour, it is nice to selfishly stand on my own two feet – upright off of the floor—face two seasoned pros, and play a game of emotional poker to see who will win THIS night.
The emotional and physical demands are great, and the stakes are high for all of us in this show, but there is something to be said for the simple joy of speaking well-written words on a stage with nothing else but the story and your scene partners to guide you and make you become better at what you do, than when you first started the night. No other “special effects” are required.