Archive | March, 2015

Weird Shit You Do…

31 Mar

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…When You’re Prepping For A Show.

This usually means, “homework.” Not that we don’t do plenty of weird shit on stage as well…but right now I’m talking specifically about the alien feeling of being totally outside in the real world, alone, while attempting to get your brain prepped to be inside the show world.

…Because we, as theatre people, do crap that seems straight up insane to any normal person, on a continual basis, and our “safety in numbers” bit only works when surrounded by other theatre people, or marching through somewhere like Comic-Con, the Vegas Strip, or Times Square. Anywhere else, an individual talking to themselves in different accents while on a walk, just isn’t normal. And even in the free-style  Pac-NW, you get strange looks wearing 19th century hair with a tank top and jeans, while eating at Applebees. Explaining all those bruises gets long-winded, and from total outsiders may even include an embarrassing hand clutch and serious -faced, “I’m here, when you’re ready to talk or need anything”…when, “No, seriously! A 12-year-old kid did this to me!” Is all that comes flying out. Because: it’s the damn truth.

…Morning work days come where you constantly look like shit, because of staying up till all hours learning 15 more pages of text. You lack ability to talk about anything at all other than the specific time period/character type/production in general, that you are working on. You lose sleep running best prop usage scenarios through your head…over, and over, and over again, so that in three weeks when you pick up that fucking cigarette, light it, and inhale on this beat, it will look totally “natural.” Who the hell else does this kinda shit?

No one.

…Only maybe prostitutes will buy the super-sized, box of condoms every week from the same small-town retailer and keep the receipt for “work expenses,” which I did for an entire summer as an SM at age 18…because: mic packs.

…Only five-year-olds spend more time building artistic masterpieces out of scraps, play dough, macaroni, cardboard, food coloring, dollar-store items, and paint than a props person does.

…Thrift stores only exist because theatre costumers come through and regularly buy out all their estate-sale stock of 1960’s sequin “this’s,” 1950’s “that’s,” and 1940’s holy-crap-we-so-needed-these’s.

…Only a ten-year-old boy and a sound designer will listen to endless farting and snoring and blow-up noises for hours on end, to find just the “right” one.

…”Do: face-crotch hit,” “It goes: fondle, fondle, fondle, kiss,” “Grab her boob,” “Is there any way to make him more sexually uncomfortable? “ “Go at it all the way, and we’ll pull back later if we have to”…says every Director to their employees, in any comedy, ever. Fuck all the appropriate work-conduct laws in the land!

Yes.  Theatre people are freaks. We make out with strangers, get more excited about (retro) hand-me-down clothes, than a pair of Jimmy Choos, because: “that’s so my character!”…we spend days and days committing vast amounts of text and traffic control patterns in our heads, only to close a show and never use them again. Ever. Too many hours are spent on “bits” which maybe only 1% of people will even notice, and even if they do, will prob’ly never “get.” Instead of just really not liking the chick in the next cubicle at work, in our world, you still have to have a fake affair with her and sell it to 200 people a night, across two months or whatever. That sleazy creeper WILL slip his tongue in your mouth mid-performance, because there is nothing you can fucking do about it, and he knows it, and that’s just the way it’ll have to be for like the rest of the goddamn run. Until you knee him in the balls one night. None of which gets any kind of legal repercussion or write up because: we are the theatre.

…You can smoke in our workplace. You can drink there. You can even have actual sex every night, on stage.  With your significant other watching from the audience.

…Children will be awake and running blocking at 11pm on a school night during tech week because: we are the theatre.  Grown men will have total melt downs over having to wear a shirt they hate, because: we are the theatre. 

…Epic cat-battles one night, will become besties the next…real-life Soap Opera situations when “he” cheats on “her” with that other girl in a wayward “showmance”, will bring pounds of drama and gossip all-around…the props WILL break, which is possibly the only time ever that a single pencil can ruin an entire enterprise of something (certainly the best joke, anyway)…and sadly, it is often the case, that when an employee turns up lit, or high as a kite, not only aren’t they fired, they are encouraged to go speak in front of hundreds of people as a company representative…no matter how fucking sloshed they are…due entirely to the fact of: we have no understudy.

….Because: THIS IS THE THEATRE!

I have actually seen and/or been a part of ALL of those things. And I will be obliged to see and/or be a part of them all again, forty or fifty more times in my career.  Cuz it’s just the rules of the game as you play them in our fucked up little world…

…Which I’m really so used to now, that it only rarely occurs to me to be out of the excepted norm to everyone else.

…Until I go home from rehearsal, (after a long-ass day-from-hell-at-work), pour out some gin, and spend the rest of the evening  (11:00pm to whenever-on) youtubing Gypsy Rose Lee glove removal strips, S&M and tantric torture ideas involving said removed gloves, and segue (naturally) to how to keep play dough stiffer while building and manipulating phallic prop “bread dough.”

…And then try to think where to start in answer to WHS Pimp’s, “What’d you do last night?” The following morning.

…So, that was my Monday.

…Which for me is pretty normal, I guess.

…And you’ve gotta admit: that’s freakin’ weird.

~D

Dear Annie

11 Mar

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Well, my friend, as I’ve stacked two shows simultaneously after this one…I wanted to take a moment of reflection before an insanely busy weekend launches, inhibiting me completely.

…As it stands, we are three performances from where our road together ends.

…The time when both our bruised bodies and wrecked knees, ribcages stuffed in steel-lined corsets…the gallons of sweat and frustrated shared history with “that kid”…will have come to completion. I know how exhausted my body and brain is…I cannot even fathom how much yours was at final rest…but with Helen there beside you, I know it’s a peaceful, and well-loved place I leave you…until someone else picks up this script and begins the journey all over again.

I have truly treasured being a part of your world and history…learning the tiny details and intimacies of your life…the hard times and the sweet, and I’ve done my absolute best to provide the most truthful access to you that I could conceive of from months of study and communal brain space.

…I have to admit, it has been a more difficult task than I thought, to keep perspective in. Because honestly, you crack me the hell up with all your self-affacing humor in letters, your ferocious arguments in a heated moment, your stubborn refusals to back down, your imperfect people skills. But god, you were beautiful too…with your very honest, human struggles against doubt, and self confidence, and pain, and the loss that fueled the nightmares which haunted you all of your life.

I am astounded by so many things about you, but most of all, at the way you still managed to open (even if only to one person, truly) and trust enough…to “love” again. Despite all of it.

…I have loved being some far-reaching part of your existence. I did my best to do you proud, and though I could frequently hear you cussing at me and sighing from above, during manic rehearsals …I know you’ve nodded in my direction at least once or twice. Because I’ve felt it.

…A lot of actors I know, find performing actual people from history a daunting task. It’s a slippery slope that many feel caught and restricted in, which I never have. The homework only feeds me…the mindful conversations I have in my head which I have always invited the spirit or essence of such person to openly become a part of, makes me feel I’m participating in a secret interview with the past that not many people get the chance to undertake. I feel connected and energized and try to erase as much of my own judgment as I can, to keep an honest and open gateway to whatever enlightenment may come of it all. In essence, it may sound freaky-deeky, but in those moments, if I’m good and fair and trust…I am never alone…and I try to bring that with me as a host for the story being told. Frankly, I love the companionship of history and the people who make it worth remembering and talking about.

…Like you.

If you could look down right now and see what has come from the work you had started, all those years ago…I think I know you well enough to say that while not totally satisfied, you would still be proud. So many things changed for the better because of the work that you and Helen did.

So many lives.

…If you taught us nothing else, it is that every person has a worth of destiny and meaning…be they deaf, dumb, and blind, or an orphan girl with only six years of education under their belt.

…Whether you were of the inclination to believe it or not… I bet you all I’ve got, that a little boy named Jimmy…perfect in body and mind…is standing beside you right now, proud as hell, and grinning with all of his might, in agreement.

…And Helen too.

Three more shows, and I have to let you go. But before I do…wanna know my deep down secret?

In over 50 roles, you have been my most especial and absolute favorite.

Thanks for the hard, and wonderful work, Lady. In life, and on stage.

Your Big Fan,

~D

Earnest, My Lover

4 Mar

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Here we are…halfway through the run of “Miracle,” over the hump of that 16 shows in 17 days marathon, back at performances as usual tomorrow, while today I have first read to begin the next show.

It’s the first time I’ve ever remounted a role, which is going against the grain for me.

…Whatever character I take on, I put everything I’ve got into it…so good, bad, or otherwise, there is no need to revisit them to my mind.  Obviously I could have taken later lessons and instilled them into earlier characters in my career to make the work more solid, but performance art being what it is…one could always say that, then end up playing the same 5 roles your entire career on repeat.  No thank you.  I learn what I can from each, and move the fuck on.  It’s healthier that way.  Even for the ones I really, really love.

…But this re-visit comes from what I’d call “unfinished business.” And it is also allowing me to work with one of my favorite artists I’ve ever shared a stage with.  The fact we had both done the same show before, is anything but adding dust to an old already-written book, as his role has now swapped and we’ll be firing on all cylinders in a trilogy of romantic mayhems together.  Our last chance to touch upon that regime was in “Importance of Being Earnest,” where we first realized the mad-cow totally platonic chemistry we apparently swim in together…which amuses the fuck out of us both, I think…as I doubt two more totally NOT interested-in-one-another-at-all people could be found. 

…The joy of finding a performing  “yin” to your “yang,” the always “yes-man” to every idea…the person who you can literally go anywhere you can mentally and physically conceive of, on a total whim, which for some reason just always fucking works…THAT is a hell of a lot of fun to play and work with. Actual communication isn’t even a necessity of the beast…it’s like we’re artistically wired to the other’s guys idea-sector.

…Which, given that it’s period and farce, outrageous and scintillating, means I’ll have a lot to keep my mind busy and inventive, and  joyful as I wave goodbye to my favorite role to date.  The transition will be far less bumpy with a buddy at my side…several buddies in fact. 

…Sometimes being “The Woman,” ain’t all bad…

Hark, “39 Steps”…it’s me again.  Grab the wigs n’ handcuffs…eets time to plaaaay. 

~D

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