Tag Archives: actors

Another Tech Week

6 Jan

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I dunno how many blogs have been dedicated to this subject versus all the rest, but I’m fairly certain that based on the stress blowout needs that they bring: it’s gotta be a lot.

…Someday, I’ll attack one of these without topping onna 40 hour office work week as well, and am sure it will be like adding a great big dollop of cream cheese to a dry bagel.

…How much easier must it be to get it down without such harsh requirements from all corners and directions. What if you actually did these things on a full night’s sleep? With time for proper meals? No need for five cups of black coffee before noon? Or after 4 p.m?

…Being awake at two a.m. fixating on lines you fucked up in the run, wouldn’t cost so much the next morning. You wouldn’t have to be fighting so hard not to get the office cold everyone has…because there would be no “office”…

…And your “mind”…

…Your mind would be totally focused on only one major thing: to open this show and not fuck it up.

…Your whole entire day would be spent just in the service of this. To sleep until you wake up. To take a walk or workout or detox in your own favorite manner. To eat meals like a human being: at a table. With silverware. With nothing coming from a greasy bag or box. Time to run your lines and do more book work, time to blow out the stiffness that can happen after a long rehearsal process when the words start to become too taken for granted or automated. You could spend three hours just rehearsing that one scene with mock props, to get it as clean and seamless as it was back when you were just miming.

…How awesome to not have to wear out your voice all day long on phones and over report explanations, but be able to vocal rest, and warm up slowly and specifically, to exactly the parameters which service that particular role the best?

…In every way, on every day, it would be infinitely easier to do the Actors job, if it was the only one we needed to do. If every discipline of it could earn a living wage so that non-Hollywood-elite could have personal trainers to keep us fit, get us prepared for physical makeovers, smack fast food out of our hands and replace them with green high energy things. How much easier to have the beauticians do all the coloring and styling and preshow makeup. To just show up and do our job, and that would be enough.

…Sadly, of course, this isn’t the way. We do all that shit (and more) on our own, plus hold down whatever job we can manage to pay our bills.

…Which is what we all expected when we started this gig. But it doesn’t make the job any easier, knowing that.

…And it doesn’t make this Tech Week any less of a general living hell, than the last one was. It’s just a long-ass labor, you know is coming from the beginning. It’s mostly always worth it. This one will be. You just gotta think of that beautiful baby being born on Friday, suck it up, and take the sleeplessness, exhaustion, anxiety, and (often) literal pain, like a Boss.

Own it. As best you can.

Almost there…

…Almost…

…Almost…

…And stop fucking up that line…

~D

Weird Shit Actors Say

18 Dec

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The current theatre I’m working at is one of my home base hubs…and so are the places we go to in the area after rehearsal and performances. We have become known…(because, frankly, how do you miss us)…at these places, not necessarily by name but by vocation. To the bartenders and waitstaff, we are those theatre weirdos, who pop in, take over the place, drink too much, over tip, eat whole meals at 11 pm, and go along our merry way.

…They know the “regulars,” and track us from show to show…some sincerely not giving a shit, but earning their tip by asking after “how it’s going,” some who have actually been inclined to attend, “Holy shit, that part where you walk off and blow your own head in…that’s freakin intense!”…Some just nod at you and bring your usual with no comment, and know enough not to ask if you want another round…it just appears as if by magic.

…Then, occasionally, you get the guy or gal who hasn’t yet worked our table before…and I imagine what must go through their heads when they are indoctrinated…hearing our conversations for the first time. We are only on the surface, “normal people.” Its not like they haven’t served nuts before, but we are a special brand of them.

Because of things like this:

Normal People (Meeting someone new): “Hi, hi — nice to meet you — where you from, what’s your wife’s name…oh, you’ve got kids?”

Theatre People (Meeting someone new): “…But then Dad was an alcoholic mess, so naturally, I did jokes and funny voices to make mom laugh…and people would be like, ‘oh Anne, he’s so funny, I bet he turns out to be a comedian or something…'”

**

Theatre People (Ordering food): “I don’t do meat, or animal byproduct, or gluten, or nuts. So, I’ll have the house salad with no dressing or croutons, or almonds. And a double Vodka on the rocks.”

Normal People (Ordering food): “Steak. Beer.”

**

Theatre People (Talking politics): “…No but it’s a classic case that Freud would wet-dream over. He’s obviously got some serious mother issues to work out, so is taking his total lack of control in that relationship to like the zenith level, by making all women pay by taking away their own basic rights, so he can feel empowered over the fact that she started dating after Daddy left or whatever, and he didn’t like the fact that mommy was gettin it on with Mr. Frick, across the street. ‘How do I stop her? By stopping all of them,’ he thinks…penance for ‘slutiness,’ paid in full…”

Normal People (Talking politics): “Well…I like my shot-gun, so: I’m voting for that guy.”

**

Normal People (Talking about the Holidays): “…And Suzy had that bronchial thing that was going around, so we had to stay home. I did a ham…baked a bit, but..it was a quiet Christmas.”

Theatre People (Talking about the Holidays): “We had a double header on the 23rd, then the 24th, came back for a pick-up rehearsal for the other show on the 26th, then musical work for that special New Years gig, on Wednesday and Thursday. I haven’t actually been home except to sleep in like a week. Also, I think my fish died, but I don’t have time to deal with that, so am just avoiding the living room in general right now…”

**

Normal People (On finances): “So we are working the budget really closely with our accountant, because we’ve decided that maybe we’ll refinance next year, and use that capital to roll back into the kitchen revamp and finishing the basement into a fourth bedroom…”

Theatre People (On finances): “….Yeah, I knew I’d over-draft by Tuesday, so I did the whole, ‘go take out $200 from the versateller before it hits so I only get feed once’ deal…like yuh do. Anyway, this round’s on me.”

**

Theatre People (Regarding job interviews): “And so then he asked me what I was, and I’m all like, ‘what do you mean?’ And he’s like, ‘well I can’t decide if you’re some kinda exotic ethnic thing or just like…part black?’ And I’m like, ‘dude, I’m whatever the part needs me to be. In fact, I can be taller, shorter, blond, even Cajun…if that’s what you want…”

Normal People (Regarding job interviews): “…And then this middle aged white guy walked in. So, that was over.”

**

Normal People (Talking relationships): “I dunno, it’s just so complicated and unnecessarily chaotic. If we love each other, why can’t the other stuff just figure itself out?”

Theatre People (Talking relationships): “No! NO! No! That’s just too simple. I mean, sure, you can play it that way…if you want to, but there’s like 150 layers under that basic set up…so much more ‘complication’ to mine there…I mean, I love you, but am like obsessed with her for some reason…which I mean obviously goes back to that time in the third scene where she slaps me…but my devotion and love for you is different…calmer, like. See I think I idolize you, and deep down I realize I just don’t deserve you, so I go with the gut reaction of the mirrored image of myself: her. The ‘wandering whore,’ so to speak. It’s nothing against you personally.…”

***

Normal People (At the end of a long night): “Whelp, that’s me: done in. Off home to do the husband/wife/mom/dad stuff…maybe night cap with a bath…”

Theatre People (At the end of a long night): “So…the after party is at yours then? I’ll grab a bottle and some bread or something on the way…oh, and hey, can I just crash on your couch or whatever? If I have to wake up to someone else’s early morning sexing in the next room one more time, I swear to God — P.S. I love how you’re single. We should get drunker and fool around. Think about it…”

…And so it goes. Entertainment and intrigue on and off the stage.

…You’re welcome, server “Mary Beth.”

You, are welcome.

~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

Hey, Kid I Know…

13 Feb

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Dear Kid I’m Working With~

Look, I’m gonna play it straight with you: kids are not my favorite people.  They used to be, and then I grew out of them.

…I frankly no longer have the patience for your antics, fits, mess, lack of personal space, penchant for screaming at a pitch that only dogs should be able to hear, throwing fits in supermarkets, getting goo everywhere, inexhaustible energy; smart-ass attitude, annoying precociousness, and/or creepy attempts to act like you’re 35 when you’re actually 8.  What with all the digital world of internets and gaming and hashtagging also now added to the mix with this generation, I don’t even know how to communicate with you people anymore. 

See, kids have changed. They used to be introduced to things like real-world etiquette, discipline, and imagination. They used to have respect. They used to actively “play.” Like: games without plastic controllers. Outside.* And they used to be “kids.”

(* It’s this place with dirt and trees and no walls around it, that you— never mind…)

…So no, kids aren’t my bag.  Which means that every time I work on a show with you people, it becomes a huge “gird your loins” moment for me. 

…It’s having to watch and try to temper every single “sunofabitch” and “fuck” that naturally wants to erupt when one screws things up royally. (Which you’ve obviously seen: I do plenty.) It’s having to put you first in every moment in every scene that we usher you through.  It’s constantly checking in after every stage fight and altercation, terrified that some horrible bruise matching any one of our own, will end up having child protective services banging on our door and hauling us away in handcuffs.  Plus the frustration of you little bastards knowing every single damn line we keep fucking up, and not even breathing heavy after nine minutes thrashing around or dancing or whatever-ing, when the rest of us all want to collapse on the cold concrete and just die.

…None of which is counting the off-stage moments in rehearsal…with your little high-pitched voices constantly running a mile a minute, gluing yourselves to one another in giggling bunches, fighting with one another, squirming and making noise during emotional moments, your by-and-large total inability to focus on anything but cell phone screens, lighting fixtures, or dust floaties in the air…unwillingness to “play” or look “uncool,” and like a cat somehow know the exact wrong person to follow around in a room full of other people who would actually welcome and adore your attention.

I have done my damndest to stay away from environments like this, on purpose.  I’d rather bleed from my eyeballs than endure a production of “Matilda,” “Bye, Bye Birdie,” or “The Wizard of Oz.”  I’ve only ever done one children’s theatre show, which I still haven’t recovered from…and you literally could not pay me enough to do something like “Annie.”

…That being said, as cantankerous as I am about it, I gotta admit: some of you people aren’t the worst.

I’ve known a few.

…One singular “tween” with whom I would work in several shows across several seasons, proved my “all-kids-suck” rule was for-shit.  At least in her case.  SHE didn’t-suck so much, she became like a little sister, a best pal, who would rightly (we always said she would) go onto NY and LA and all round-the-world, spewing her talent all over the damn place.

…For reasons stemming 100% on a bucket list role, I voluntarily and happily walked right into this thing called, “Oliver!” once, with about three hundred of you people totally surrounding me.  And every single damn one of the yous were fucking amazing, outstanding, hardworking “artists”…I don’t give a shit how wide the age-range gap ran.

…And if you want to talk about “horror:” a cast-full of teenage girls for “Children’s Hour?!”  This hugely emotional roller coaster job to do, based completely off of a group of young women being able to sell a performance of lies and nasty intentions so well that is catapults and obliterates the lives of every adult sharing the stage with them.  And they fucking DID!  Every night! Like goddamn Rock Stars!

…Meanwhile, ”The Diary of Anne Frank” is completely ushered, bound, and delivered on the shoulders of a 13 year-old girl.  And in the almost unheard of casting choice, ours actually WAS that age.  Have you any idea the fucking weight of that role on even a young ADULT, let alone a “girl” who hasn’t even experienced an iota of real-life emotional equivalency to inform her of what she is about to put herself through every performance?  A freaking ball-buster of awesome, who worked like a damn draft-horse, pulling us along with her. Every. Single. Night.

…In other words: I’ve been lucky.  Like… supremely.  The pit-of-my-stomach ache of uncertainty of how in the hell we would be able to swing these shows, ended up being for nothing.  Because these kids were special…these kids grew from crops bearing hard work and determination and dedication and support and monster abilities.  I’ve felt surrounded by some kind of freak genetically altered talent-fruit, just being around them.  And by the end – with not a single exception – I have seen them not as kids at all…but as co-working artists. Because they were. And are. 

…Which brings me to you.

We aren’t as emotionally close in “real life” as I was with a lot of those other young people. And I admit, a huge giant-ass part of the difficulty in this piece revolves around the fact that you can not only NOT help ME out, you cannot even help YOURSELF. Such is the nature of the story, and this script. We all knew this going in, but that does not alleviate the weight that it brings (literally), in what is required to get this show up, on its feet, and run in complete, each performance.

…And what I have to lift, YOU have to provide.  All of it.  Dead-weight, in body, emotionally feeding me every frustration, beating, slapping, pinching, and slamming your body into mine…repeat, after repeat, after repeat. Drawing me into your mind and thought process with only facial cues and touch to tell me where you are and what is happening at any given moment. 

…And you cannot see.

…You cannot hear.

…You cannot speak.

…You cannot understand.

Kid, this entire show works exclusively on the fact that every single fucking audience member who walks through those doors will believe it.  Believe it so thoroughly and emotionally that what we have all just literally busted ourselves black and blue for MEANS something, SAYS something, and that by the final moment in our little pool of light, we will have earned and lived up to the job we’ve been entrusted with: telling the story of these two amazing women who did it all for real.

…That is so damn much to ask of you.

I know it.

…But you know what ELSE I know?

(…Like in that pit of my stomach where it usually sits all sour and undigested-feeling, every time I know that a kid is about to be involved in something super high-stakes and emotional…?)

I fucking know, without a doubt, you can…and WILL…do this.

…And when those lights fade out on Opening Night, everyone else is gonna have to stand behind me. Cuz I’LL be your number one fan…waiting to shake your hand.

Actor to actor.

Thanks for the work, partner.  You’re alright.

…For a kid.

~D

Your “First”

4 May

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You will never forget them.  It’s impossible, given the hugeness of their role in your life.

…Today, mine would have turned 85.

I was four years old.

…I still remember the house address we live at, the exact layout of the living room furniture.  I remember a cardboard record sleeve, covered in pink with floral artwork spilling over it, leading to the face of a woman in a giant hat on the front, still photos on the back.  And the record itself, spinning on the turntable by the wall, Mom resetting the needle to a specific song.

“Okay…you wanna try it again?”

“Yuh.”

“Okay…here we go…”

…And the needle went down and caught on the groove, and the intro of a song I will remember…I think even if I were to one day forget my own name…started to play.

…And my eyes, would look hard at the record cover…the picture of this lady…and I’d think about how she looked when she sang this song…that green coat and flat black straw hat, dancing around the wet cobble stones, throwing lettuce leafs in the air, and pretending to be a queen…and I opened my mouth and let it burst out of me.

I was trained to be a character actor, as I trained for that talent show.  My very first time on a stage. I would be five when I performed it for real…just me and a piano, and my own little green jacket, with flat black straw hat.  But I was four when I first met The Lady, first saw the film on VHS, first pointed to the TV screen and said, “I want to be her when I grow up.”

…I didn’t know what an Actor was…nor The Lady, but she talked funny and I liked it.  So I started talking funny, back.  And Mom had noticed. Apparently I had an ear for it.  Apparently, I nailed it.  Which is how we got on a road to a talent show to begin with, which is how I got on stage for the first time, and freakishly won…which is how so much of who I am, all began.

Today The Lady would have turned 85, had she lived.  And for two decades of my life, she was the star I had set my ship to sail towards.  I mean what better role model could a young girl have?  She survived war and famine with grace, was understated, and elegant, classy and joyous,  she was gentle and kind to animals…she spent the last years of her life as an Ambassador to war-torn nations.  I spent the bulk of my adolescence obsessing over her, reading every article, buying every book, seeing every movie…and learning as much as I could about how to be a better person…on total accident.

…My intent, because of her, was to be an Actor. That was what I thought I was studying for…like I did all those years ago, with a record spinning cockney voices into the air. But I learned much more.

…I learned she WASN’T the flower girl pretending to be a queen. She was a queen…pretending to be a flower girl.

…And the more I realized that, the more I opened up to other influences…building my cannon of acting teachers and role models…first in black and white, and later in more contemporary atmospheres.

You see, I realized even at age four, I wasn’t ever going to be the pretty lady walking down the stairs in a white beaded gown on the way to a ball. I was (and am) the scrubby street urchin. It’s more fun, for one…and the joy and limitlessness to dream about the what-ifs, is endless. The pretty lady in white always seemed stuck somehow. Unhappy. Even with all the wealth she was surrounded with. And I’d rather roll in the mud with some mates raising a ruckus any day, than attend Ascot…even if I DID get to wear that hat.

…And so this lesson formed my life. Obviously.

…And The Lady, though my first and best girl, became not my only model for measurement. Eventually I would find Bette Davis, who’s swilling booze and articulate bite of dialogue seemed more a natural to me. And Ava Gardner, who could do these magical things to men by just looking at them in a certain way. And Judy Garland who would be doped up ten ways to Sunday, slurring even, then open her mouth and sob out a song that would make you forget to breathe for a while, it wretched your guts so hard. There were countless others…but all of them who caught my eye seemed to be damaged or dark or simply more complicated than The Lady, who had started it all. I don’t believe it made me love her less, just realize my own place in the artistic arena.

Hardly anyone can be as genuinely a good and beautiful person (inside and out) as Audrey Hepburn. But I’ll be thankful for the rest of my forevers, that in the years when a human is forming their sense of self and ideas of the world in general, I had the fairest lady of them all as a role model and guide. It certainly isn’t her fault I ended up falling off the wagon by way of the Tallulah Bankhead variety. The point is: I can recognize the value, I understand the need, I see the importance of a positive influence.

…What Audrey taught me was to work hard, to live simple, to be kind, to help others, to be gracious. I may not live up to these idioms all the time, but they are there in my head…and when I fall short of them, like a good ol’ Catholic guilt complex, I can still hear her voice in the back of my head, urging me to be better. And maybe that “goodness” was too posh an outfit for me to wear. I know myself well enough to acknowledge that. But I suppose the point is: I am who I am today…whether you can see it or not…due in large part to one of the gentlest, classiest, fashion-iconic, charity-building, humans to walk the earth. She was (and will always be) a very special hero to me…

…And I guess what I’m saying is: “Here’s a toast to a Dearest Lady, very close to my heart…with endless thanks, on her 85th Birthday.”

Cheers, love.

~D

So Meta

15 Apr

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So I’m watching film about actors in the  theatre…which is like my favorite thing.

…You know: “All About Eve,” “Bullet’s Over Broadway,” Being Julia, ” “Noises Off,” “A Midwinters Tale,” “Somewhere In Time,” “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “Curtain Call, ” Stage Fright,” “Tootsie,” “Waiting For Guffman,” “Shakespeare In Love,” every Mickey & Judy movie…to name a few?

…I’m secretly addicted to this practice.  It’s like the best of both worlds.  You get your cinema effects and star power on instant never-aged replay for life, but your little foreign freak world of hysterical “will they make it work or not” deal, of the world I know best. Plus really good smarmy one-liners. Cuz it’s internationally known that “actors” are whip-smart diva-bitches. Like, as a race.

It’s always fun when actors get to make fun of actors. No one knows how fucking neurotic we are better than ourselves. We can slip-stream right to the guts of it and make the “ouch” of truth, fucking hysterical. Cuz we are crazy freaks in our own way…not always the media-enhanced one, but faintly strange non-the-less. And we know it. We know the normals know it. And they know we know we know it. So to see one of us, BE one of us in all our process-filled glory, is a secret delight.

…Maybe because in true fashion of how the world looks at us, everything in all of life seems to be about an Actor when an Actor is in the room. Which is not (I guarantee you) the fact as it stands. Almost nothing is about us. Ask my creditors, and customers I serve 40 hours a week…the reports I run, the laundry that needs doing, groceries that need to be bought, the sleep I don’t get.

Actors are just people. And while it might be weird to think that Meryl Streep buys toilet paper…so did your first grade teacher, and you got over that whole shock and awe moment in the grocery aisle once…so maybe you’ll survive this too.

Thanks to my taxes I just filed, I happen to know for a fact that in 2013 in five shows, I’ve gone to 107 rehearsals, did 63 performances and traveled 5,958.36 miles. So that’s 170 days out of 365…and on most of those I also pulled a full 8 hour shift at the office. So sure, it’s my “career” and my “other full time job,” but if you think my landlord, or the guy I sell a garage to at work gives a flying shit, you are sorely mistaken. Like “theatre,” the cinema about it is a heightened reality of the truth…it shows what we want to think of as the lifestyle in the best of circumstances. Which means it’s semi-autobiographical…but only in the “working like a sunofabitch” sense.

…For instance: I’ve never known anyone who shows up to the theatre in full makeup, hair, and designer threads, with an entourage of handler’s in their wake. Even the famous people. We all show up the same way: looking like junkyards…it’s what yoga pants and oversized sunglasses are for. This is also true of our dressing rooms. They are never the elegant well-lit mirror-fest of solitary joy, full of flowers and blue M&M’s. It’s 99% of the time, a tiny pit, in the back corner or bowls of the stage, populated by anywhere from 4 to 47 other people. Even the nice theatres upkeep this tradition. A face-lift in the lobby and front-of-house…state-of-the-art sound systems and light boards mean dick to the non air-conditioned backstage, sweat fest, badly lit, real-deal where we all live.

…But for some reason, film (for the most part) likes to glamorize us while simultaneously showing how socially fucked up we are. Basically this makes it 50% right. Films like “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Noises Off” capitalize on the sheer ridiculousness of our lifestyle…the stakes we play at, how bad the really bad can be…and how psychotic we must be to do it all voluntarily. This is mostly true. Which is the sad/hysterical truth. Films like “Being Julia” and anything by Noel Coward, like to give us “class” and grandeur, wit and elegance. This is true maybe 5% of the time, though we’d like to claim it as biographical truth…yet it is difficult to be those things while sweating like a motherfucker, through endless quick changes, and wig swaps, in period underwear that keeps riding up, with an audience full of coughers.

…Mickey and Judy “lets put on a show” films are basically like tech week with teenagers…and don’t even get me started on the faux reverence of “Shakespeare” and his haloed language, when it’s contemporary people trying to wrap their heads around an inside joke that’s hundreds of years old, and relate it to people in the seats more occupied with remembering to pay their gas bill than watch a show right now.

In my opinion, there is one perfect example of theatre as shown by film. and that is Mankowitz’s “All About Eve.”

…Prob’ly cuz it was written and directed by a theatre boy from way back. He should know. And he gets so much of it right…from the raw longing, to the near misses and near hits, to the dive dressing rooms, and bliss of Openings…the politics…the power plays…the self-conscious aches, euphoric highs and shitty, shitty lows…showmances, and sexual drive…to sense of family and loyalty…all rolled into one. As well as the smarmy, bitchy, luscious extravagance of quick wits and one-uppers. Basically, it’s creative sex on film for the theatre kid. It’s our story, told extremely well…by people who get it…by people who were there.

…By people who got us here.

…So it goes that sometimes, I open up the decedent little box of joy that is the story of our life in what we do, and I watch it. Not, I think, for nepotism. Mostly for sense of “togetherness.” Like Christmas dinner with the family.

…It’s a strange little freak of a gene pool…but it’s mine. And I love it.

~D

This Is Your Ital-ian

3 Apr

On stage taking turns laying, pacing, picking at our shoes, punching text into our phones, checking baseball scores, and screaming lines like a machine gun, at extreme speed.

…For those of you new to the process, this is completely legal. In fact, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do an Italian. The only qualifier is “speed.”

…Some throw in blocking to help trigger memory…some lay on their backs staring into the rafter abyss, reciting like animatronic robots. Some pace back and forth with the urgency of an expectant father outside a maternity ward. Whatever gets the lines out…it’s all open season.

I’m a pacer.

…Helps infuse energy.

…And while pacing, am stealing pictorals, at random. The things we see, before set and real props, painted floors, and all the magic dust they throw on stage during tech, begins to take place. Things like:

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Behind fake walls, with legs up.

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View from a ledge.

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Before hang and focus.

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Building trade-goods.

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Stand-ins.

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Hard-working professionals.

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Boss of The Book.

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An empty house.

…So now you know.

~D

How The “Actress” Ages

5 Feb

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Listen up, it’d be easy to call it a “formula”…like there is science and reason behind it, but the truth is: a female actor ages roughly three times the speed of a male one, and that is the truth.

…This is not in “actual” body, this is measured in a thing called, “playable age,” which means the gap you can fill, based on what you look like and your “type.”

The older you get, the wider the gap ‘tween the sexes age in comparison, gets. This is how Sally Field played Tom Hanks’ love interest in 1988, and his mother by 1994, only six years later.

…That’s a sizable swing, people.

The fellas get to age as it comes to them, regardless of number, primarily filling three titles across a career: Child, Love Interest, Old Man. Women get four: Child, Love Interest, Mother, Crone. Yes, women get an extra label in there, but the major difference shows when you plug in the actual playable ages of what these times of life are considered by Casting Directors.

Women
Child – Infant to preteen
Love Interest – Preteen to 25
Mother – 25 -35
Crone- 35 1/2 – onward

Men
Child – Infant to preteen
Love Interest – Preteen to 170
Old Man – 171 onward.

…This is the actual truth. (Sort of.)

…The only break we really get, (as women performers), is if we happen to be Character Actors. In which case, even BEFORE 35, we have already (at some point) played one or two Crones, and our fair share of “Mothers” anyway…so the smack in the face for “playable age” isn’t such a big deal.

…In my case, looking at the cast list yesterday…I just thought it was funny.

…Sort of a little bit depressing…but I can still smirk about it.

…About what, you ask? Oh yeah…I forgot to mention:

One of the next two roles, in this show I’m working on, has me playing opposite an adorable, hilarious fella, I last worked with in “Anne Frank.”

…At the time, he was playing Otto, Anne’s father.

…And now: he’s my son.

With this kinda “comedy,” who needs drama?

😉

~D

Death Of Blob

4 Feb

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I’m one of those humans who needs to have a purpose…an end point, a goal…because if not, I turn into a lard-person-jelly-lump.  Both physically and mentally.

…I don’t do well just free-floating whichever way the breeze (if any) happens to be blowing this day/week/month/year.

So, I go for goals.

…I like  to plan and prep the next three things I wanna audition for…which informs what color and length of hair I’ll be sporting for the next six to nine months…how fat I’m allowed to let myself get, or how much I need to lose…what kind of movies and books I’ll be watching and reading for study aids…which actors will be my obsession teachers this go-round…and (eventually, based on casting)…what I will be doing with my night’s and weekends, and “where.”

…Which is why booking a show for me, is not just a big deal as “an actor,” but even just “as a person.” 

Twenty years doing a thing, builds some serious habits.

It reflects the kind of year I’ll have emotionally, physically, psychologically. It reflects the people I will be socializing with…which friends I’ll be seeing more regularly, and the kinds of places I go on the down-times…based on which city and county those “down-times” occur in.

…So, when I DON’T have anything to plan, at all…not even on the what-to-audition-for-next pipeline…I literally don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not a person who can just “be” to “be.” I can’t not think and study and plan. It’s against the religion of me. Even my Psych Doc couldn’t break me of it.

…Hence, for the last month, post-last-show, I have turned into a blob with total lack of enthusiasm.

Family tragedies certainly don’t help that.

…All you can do is just sit there, being “the blob,” turning into MORE of a blob, and thinking you are prob’ly doomed to get even blobbier before anything changes for the better. If ever again, at all.

So you do.

…Till an actual goal pops up.

…And you see it float there above your head, juuuuust outta reach, so you have to actually shift your weight, and stand up in order to touch it.

…And you do.

…And the fucker wiggles free n’ flies away, right in front of you…

…And you think, “Goddamn it, if I were FIT I’d have just jumped higher, and gotten a better hold of the thing to begin with!”

…Only sometimes, I guess the goal doesn’t totally float away for good.

…Sometimes, for reasons even YOU don’t understand, it gets caught up in the corner over there. But since you told yourself to forget about it, you don’t even know it’s there. How could it be? You totally lost it. You were there!

…Only looks like, maybe you didn’t.

…And two days later, you get a call on the phone. And it goes a little something like this:

AD: Hi. This is (Artistic Director you know.) I’m calling about the show.

Me: Oh. Yeah. That. Listen, I’m really sorry about lousing up that callback…

AD: I’m calling…

Me: –The “thanks, but no thanks call,” no, yeah. I get it.

AD: Not really. What? No. He wants to offer you a role.

Me: (Beat.) What?

AD: In the show.

Me: Who?

AD: The Director.

Me: Oh.

AD: Yeah.

Me: Why?

AD: Why??

Me: Yeah.

AD: Um. Because he liked you?

Me: (Beat.) No. But really. Why?

AD: That’s really why.

Me: But, I sucked.

AD:…Or: not.

Me: Really.

AD: Yep.

Me: Huh.

AD: So…

Me: Yeah?

AD: You like…wanna do the show?

Me: Oh! Sorry. YES.

AD: Okay then.

Me: Yeah.

AD: Good.

Me: I really needed this. I mean: comedy and purpose and stuff.

AD: Well, good.

(Long silence.)

Me:…But, seriously?

AD: Seriously.

…And so now, all of a sudden…the blob regains purpose.

…Which is a very good thing.

Very good.

I feel like I can breathe again.

Eventually, it’ll even sink in.

Huzzah and stuff — !

~D

An Open Letter

30 Dec

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Dear God,

Please make me morph (as close as humanly possible) into a carbon copy of Emma Thompson, someday.

…I should like to own the linguistic and intellectual banter to keep up with the Cambridge fellows of her like, as Stephen Fry, and Peter Laurie, and all the rest.

…Please let me one day read Lit in a top worldly place of letters and write an Oscar winning screenplay on the author’s works of my former thesis.

I would like  to be one of the newest version of Lunt and Fontaine, Olivier and Leigh, Branagh and Thompson, please.

Could I get away with being a total bohemian nutter, and people will still love me viciously?

…Also, please can I marry Willoughby?

I would really  appreciate working with Streep, and Pacino, and Hoffman, and Winslet,  whilst have them love me so much, they consider me family.

Can I own the magic English skin that never wrinkles or ages, and the lithe figure to go with it?

Please, dear God, make me funny some day.  (I know my limits, but a 100th of a percentage of Dame Thompson will due me.)

…Also, WHY ain’t she a Dame yet…it’s really bothering me….

Smart-sexy.  It’s a thing. I watch it and want to own it. Willing to work hard: please help me to achieve.

A “Character Actor” of first degree: please grow me.

Smart choices. Smart dialogue. Smart wit. Smart woman. I beg this degree.

A double header, double feature is all it takes to remind me…how astronomically essential a hard worker is. And how (more  than anything) I wanna be “that guy.”

…Who, in this case…

…Happens to be…

An Emma Thompson.

I  thank you.

Sincerely,

Me.

Communist Garbo, a-la Python, With Peter Lorre

7 Aug

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All hail Britannia!

…This evening was spent as Miss Pamela Edwards, the bratty English-finishing-school-grad-turned-reluctant-hostage of a wanted murderer.

…Covering election debates, with road trips through the bumpy highlands, while handcuffed to my kidnapper, we had just reached the rented hotel room bed, when (like the best episode cliffhangers of anything you’ve watched, ever)…the scene was called for the night to be picked up as a “part two” added to all the other intimate scenes being blocked on Saturday.

Until props arrive next rehearsal week, we are in makeshifts. A 1940’s gentleman’s tie, wrapped ’round our wrists, served as our cuffs, a collapsing music stand: our happy accident-to-be-copied-with-real-prop lectern. Beds made of benches…and every canned sound effect, being live foleyed on stage.

…Something like 40 accents thrown out there so far between the four of us. Keeping them from bleeding into one another is gonna require time and it’s own special concentrated effort. But as much as we laugh through the night, we are still focused on the prize…and can proove it…as we are still totally on pace with blocking the entire show in one week.

…Meanwhile, random character notes are already being thrown at us. Things like, “flirt like you’re in a maltshop” and, “he’s the oldest man in the world…think Tim Conway”…”lets put some shapeable dough in that bowl and see what happens”…”rush at him and bellow as loud and unintelligibly as you can”…”anytime you want lovey things from her, just yank the handcuff”…”she’s a cheek pincher..no…not that cheek”…”this is the part where you go wrangle him again for five minutes”…”all the women should sound a-la Python”…”it’s like The Scarlet Letter is in your house”…”Good! Yes! I want him to work his ass off on this speech and your job is to steal the scene”…”it’s like you’re, Niles and he’s Frasier…only: with sex!”

…And in keeping with clarity, we also chime in: ” if you can understand me right now, I can make it sound worse”…”what about I do Sydney Greenstreet and he can pop into Peter Lorre?”…”how literal are we getting…am I gonna be all wet here?”…”it’s a very His Girl Friday, sex antagonism thing”…”can I take the gun from my garter?”…”wait, who am I right now?”…”do I mount him here or no?”…”from English to German with all the subtlety of Carl Reiner”…”I think she’s seductive on accident, with zero emotions or sense of personal space. Like a dom…or a communist Garbo.”

…Obviously, it helps to all be giant film nerds and actor stalkers. Half our fun is coming up with a spot on simile or metaphor, somehow related to this noir or era-involved world of ridiculousness we are living in. If someone jumps up, points wildly at you and yells, “YES! Exactly!” afterwards, so much the better.

Double “win!”

….Plus, an awesome isolated and specific point of character contact for later.

~D

For Those Who Are Earnestly Interested

8 Jul

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One more short week of performances and “The Importance of Being Earnest” will be put to rest in the archives of the theatre.

…But we have not prepared for our exit quite yet.  There are bets still to be won. 

(If you’ve just joined us and want to get in on the bookie action, catch up on our history of numbers here and here.)

…For the rest of us, let’s move on to the meat n’ potatoes of our fourth week’s stats, so you can blast ’em all you want to the masses and help press us to number one of the season by next Sunday’s closing matinee.

First, our winnings:  We pulled into the second-selling slot of the season by last Saturday’s performance, even besting our own projections by a full day.

…And second, comes an interesting new handicap/advantage for the unusual five-week run: Due to the additional week of performances, we have zero Season Ticket holders for next week’s reservations.  This lowers the weekly pre-booking of seats average…which means we have more to physically fill, in order to achieve a full house sell-out performance.  On the advantage side, that of course means more option of weekly revenue should we FILL those seats…the money then not being attributed to early projections, but instead being fresh meat, and bonus bucks to our final ticket-selling totals.

…In short, from now to Friday (and beyond, frankly), we need to whore ourselves out, completely.

Wanna help do some pimpin’?

…Have you already seen the show?  Come back and bring friends.  Ain’t seen it at all?  Go online and grab some tickets now…the internet is never closed, friends! 

…In order to sell-out any (or all) of the remaining performances, as of 11PM this evening, here is what we need:

Friday  7/12 — 136 unsold
Saturday 7/13 — 148 unsold
Sunday 7/14 — 87 unsold

…Again, everything this week is at the mercy of direct-sell, with no subscriber base to help cushion the numbers.  New projections based on current percentages have been set at a closing of $17,500 for the gross…which is $2,737 below the number one slot show, “Sherlock, ” (whose final gross was $20,237.)

…From yesterday (post show) to this evening’s final numbers, we have sold $311, which (if taken as an average across the next 7 days) will only bring us to $2,177…missing our goal by over half a grand.

…This won’t win us bets, friends!! So here’s what we do:

We go on a guerrilla campaign, digitally.  And you can help!

Have you seen the show and like it?

Have you read the play and dig Oscar’s winking wit? 

Do you have a history of voting for the underdog?

…Grab this and pass it on!  Or any one of the trailers, or a comment you’d like to share about the show, along with hash tags and/or email addresses linking your gorilla campaign contribution to the theatre itself.  The bucks go to art, (a worthy, worthy cause), the full houses will go the actor’s hearts (mine included), the support you give, no matter how big or small (in post, or comment, in buying out an entire house) will make you a part of our “Earnest” family…sharing in the final WIN, that I know we can attain:

To get a 118 year-old comedic gem, written by a genius 159 year-old Irish playwright, into the number one selling slot of 2013?

…Come on you guys, what isn’t awesome about that?!

YouTube Channel Links
Main Theatre Website Link
Ticket Purchase Link
Facebook Link

~D

The Screaming Over-Compensator

13 Jun

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So, we had one of those mostly smiley Preview audiences, who…I am sure…prob’ly enjoyed themselves just fine.

Occasional laughter by all, was heard. Occasional booming ones selectively, from others.

…But we learned quickly, that it would not be quite at the frequency that we were hoping. 

…Which bothered some of us. (Me)

…Which is dangerous in comedies, because sometimes that influences the knee-jerk reaction to amp or over-compensate in some way: An Actor version of poking the audience with a stick in order to hopefully arouse the desired response.

…As if that has EVER worked, in the HISTORY of the theatre, in ALL OF TIME.

(It doesn’t.)

But, Actors are stubborn assholes, who (by the time you see them do what they do to entertain you) have already vested a pretty huge fucking amount of time and effort into a thing.  And so, though we KNOW that over-compensation isn’t going to do a goddamn thing to achieve the kind of endgame we were hoping for, a lot of us will try it anyway.  And for a lot of us, it is an automatic switch that flips, running on it’s own little generator.

Actors have different compensation mechanisms, I find.

…Mine is screaming.

Something in me assumes that if the reactions are slow or silent from the seated sections, it is most likely because they prob’ly just can’t hear what is being said.  So my auto-pilot fix is to amp the volume. About 12 decibels.

…I also like to infuse an extra shot of energy.

…Which, when added to the screaming, is like slamming a 5-Hour-Energy shot, with a RedBull chaser.

Now: do it in an English dialect, while wearing a lot of fancy clothes.

That was basically my Preview performance.

Again, on auto pilot.  It would just kick in. No matter how much I had told myself not to let it, while pacing backstage, listening to one-liner after one-liner, fall into a pit of mostly silence.

I was determined to get up there, and be fine. And I was fine…until the first couple “dings” of missed opportunity hit. Then, I would begin to panic, and project my vocals suddenly with enough speed and power to kick a train off it’s tracks.

…Have you ever attempted a love scene while being intimately yelled at?

Earnest has.

…And it was not one of Gwendolen’s more evocative moments.

Somehow, between tonight and tomorrow, I have got to just calm the frick down.

Nobody is going to get everything that we do.

Nobody else spent a month pouring over and interpreting the text, like we did.

This does not equal failure.

…Nor the need to panic.

For some: it will be the physical comedic angle that’ll get ’em. For others it will be accents and costumes. And for probably fewer than I was anticipating: it will be the actual language content.

It’s period.  It’s British.  It’s an acquired taste to a contemporary palette.

I suppose it would behoove me to remember that.

…And maybe also, to watch the auto-indicator when the anxiety levels start to rush.

Center. Focus. Delight.

I charge myself in ink, to enjoy the hell out of my castmates tomorrow night…to work my ass off…to think of delicious, decedent Gwendolisms, and receive any output by the audience, as a garnish perk.

The end.

~ D

Paper Tech

7 Jun

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The best night of Hell Week, is technically the first one.

Paper Tech.

…Where the show’s sound, light and cues are plotted and planned by the design and run crews. 

This mean: Actors- OFF.

…It’s usually the only night we get, ‘tween now and the last performance of Opening Weekend.  A fairly brutal run of everythings added onto everything else and slammed up against tons of new toys and clothes and props to side-track you, and not quite enough sleep to process it all.  Tempers sometimes get short, a zillion tiny details you might not have thought about or planned for are suddenly right in your face with immediate answers needed, everyone is hot from too many lights and no air ventallation…and for reasons I will never understand, this makes everyone like everyone else a lot more.

…It’s that old “Band of Brothers” adage.

So tonight, while our tech crews battle on paper, and our costumers battle with needle n’ thread, we actors battle our lines (some more), before tomorrow morning’s first call.  Costume Parade, followed by cue-to-cue, followed by (one hopes) drinking.

…Personally, I’ve just finished fighting the yoga ball, after spending about two hours listening to Benny Goodman and figuring out some hair styles that’ll work with my super-awesome hats (one of which Mdm. Costumer let me take home for just that occasion.) 

We are going to look so ridiculously delicious, it’s just ridiculous.

…And now: I’m off for a shower, and some read time before the Zzz’s take me.

…Take me HARD.

I hope they leave me no mercy.

Long days ahead.

~D

It’s Like English, Only More So

4 Jun

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There is a certain part of my brain that houses “lines.” 

I’m pretty confident, that is all that is in there. It runs mostly like a dry-erase board in that (almost) the second a show closes, the bulk of the lines are wiped out, so new ones can begin to take their place. This makes sense to me if for no other reason than I’ve done over 60 main-stage runs, and no human being can retain that much text-information…other than Stephen Fry. 

And everyone knows this.

…Only very rarely do pockets of them from shows past, live on in my memory. At that, they are prob’ly part of a monologue, and particularly dramatic.  Which means I spent twice as long working on them as others, and prob’ly have a fairly healthy sentimental tie to them.

For instance, I cannot remember a single word from “Twelfth Night”…which closed all of six months ago.  If I picked up the script, and read through it a couple times, it might excavate a few of the monologues here and there, but that’s about it.  Certainly, not without prompting.  And none of the conversation.

…While I was running that, I began rehearsals on “Children’s Hour.”  Which (if you were with us at that time) was a fucking mental trip of intensity.  For that one, off-hand, I remember my final scene…prob’ly still at approximate performance level. But only because it was such a mind fuck…with just me n’ Marty ripping it wide open and letting it all hang out. It will be a collection of phrases and thoughts that will live with me for…oh…a long, long time, I should think. But only that one scene, very little (if any) of the former.

…”Anne Frank” directly followed that, which bring us to February through April. I’ve always had a special place for the theme and book, so not surprising that the text stuck hard. I think Mrs. Van Daan will always be someone I can easily slip into, and wouldn’t mind in the least re-visiting again. Maybe that’s why I could remount the show right now in my living room, and get damn-near word perfect.

…And now: “Earnest.”

The line-load of the year…not in size, but in content, formation, structure and specificity.  (And that includes a Shakespeare in the season, friends.) 

Yes. In this case, with this role, Oscar kicked Bill’s butt with intricacy, musicality and sheer ridiculousness.

We are now a week out from Preview, tech hasn’t even been tackled yet, costumes are still being built and the theatre looks like a bomb went off in it (as all theatre’s do, directly moving into and out of Hell Week)…with half built styrofoam topiaries, wet-paint-warning-signed benches, half-erected walls, clumps of stand-in props, swishing rehearsal skirts paired with converse sneakers and the occasional fuck up so grand, that everyone just bursts into tears of laughter.

…So you’d think that getting the solid on lines, with no calls for a week, would command some massive sense of achievement right now.

…Which it sort of does.

…But only “sort of.”

…Because making the audience understand the outlandishly overtly-soup’d-up version of the accent we are using…(reminding one very much of Noel Coward: squared)…will be an ever constant push for articulation, and enough breath support to carry one through a tied-in, one-worded-sounding, run on sentence for two pages.  Don’t believe me? 

…Of course you don’t.

…You’ve seen the movie.

…I have too.

…Many times.

…And I adore it.

…But we are emphatically NOT “the movie.”

The movie is: “English.”

We are: “English, only more so.”

What does that mean?

It means that, much like Oscar, we are paying homage while simultaneously making fun of them.  Or rather, while making fun of ourselves. 

We are frequently just ridiculous with “R’s” and chewy, rolling, affectation…spewing barbed darts of insult, intoxicating with breathless sexual innuendo, pouting with precision and exclaiming with the power to bomb a brick house.

…Which totally works.

…But which also, totally means we will never be quite “done” with these lines.  We will be at war to own them until the bitter end.

…Which makes my current conundrum, not a little distressing.

…For, you see, I fully realize my brain’s capacity to “white-board” lines from all existence. 

…I feel I have more than the usual in there, as it is.

…And now that “Earnest” is nearing it’s opening, I’ve got a dandy little script sitting in the corner by my bed, staring at me nightly with not a little insistence to pick it up. 

My next show.

To begin rehearsals almost immediately following the “Earnest” opening.

…In a little over one week.

An entire new book of lines, in three accents, lying there right now. Just. Waiting.

And at some point, (‘tween now and first read), sister here, needs to bone back up on her German, Scottish and 40’s era posh Brit.

…Which (did you know) is absolutely nothing like what we are currently doing?  Or will be doing? Through a vast part of the next show’s rehearsal process while this one is in production.

Anyone who says what we do ain’t hard work, should try living five lives simultaneously sometime.  That’s what I’ll be doing in roughly two week’s time.

…So it’s good that I love it.

…Cuz baby, you couldn’t pay me enough to psych myself out on total purpose, otherwise.

~D

Dear Prop Diary…

3 Jun

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I’ve volunteered to fill my prop diary with “sensational entries”…so tonight will be just a blip of a blog.

…Takes me back to filling a giant spiral notebook and text book with lecture notes, highlights, margin comments and pull-quotes for “Oleanna,” several years ago.  The stage was extremely intimate, so there was no question that the notes had to be there, and a lot of them.  It also sincerely helps as an actor for every piece of legitimacy that you can be given to use to tell the story.  Tiny details, that only maybe the actors can even see, in costume, props and set pieces are a giant help in helping one to further the facade of make believe.

…And when it is such a personal prop, sometimes it helps for you yourself to invest in it.

Of COURSE I want to play and build Gwendolen’s diary. Why the hell WOULDN’T I?

…Even though it is merely her small “travel” variety.  I think of it as her “Greatest Hits” record: a transcription of all the really juicy bits from her larger, more in-depth one at home.  She’s been around a bit, and  per Algy, is frequently flirted with and proposed to, so there is certainly a legit amount of steam in those pages. 

I don’t doubt.

…Not a bit.

…Meanwhile , at rehearsal tonight: Run of nearly all first act, with notes and some set-change choreography. Small bits of delectable “yum” worked out in the lobby with dear Earnest, ‘tween scenes. At least we thought they were.  Given a couple more passes at the timing, we’ll be launching them at the room in general on our first main full run in the theatre on Wednesday.

…See how it goes.

Whether they are “keepers” or not, the ideas and the work and the finessing is excellent exercise for the characters, so totally worth it no matter what.

…But based on our own giggles, I’m betting we found some “keepers.”

Right!

Off now to create new faux worlds of delight.

…Of course, I could just fill the book with random sentences or lines…but what would be the fun it that?

I shall consider it more backstory-delight, and dive in with creativity and a mug of tea and see where it takes me.

~D

Epic Lines

31 May

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A three-hour line-through tonight, with notes on every “and,” “but” and “the” out of sequence.

…Even though only got hit six times, in the entire script, it still makes me make this face:

(makes uncomfortable, displeased face.)

I’m OCD about lines…run them constantly while doing any task from work to home and back again.  I’ll run sections during my shower, on the way to work, while washing dishes, while waiting for reports to print out, on walks, and mid-pose while exercising.  This is not a task that anyone ever has to charge me with, but it is all we have until Monday, going into tech week.

…This is strange to me. 

Second show in a row, and one of only two (of 60-something main-stage), that I’ve done without weekend rehearsals.  It makes me feel that I’m wasting an incredible amount of work-time. 

I’m not quite where I want to be right now. 

…The development is fine, and the intent…I just need time on a stage to work it…to try different modes of attack for each scene, and so far we have been running, noting, and fixing them, instead of the former more “working in progress” kind of feel that I’m so desperately hungry for.

Not always, (but definitely where “comedy” is concerned), I like to have multiple passes of attack on lines and beats and moments.  Whole rehearsals devoted to just one scene and the many ways to encounter it, are without a doubt, my favorite kind.  It is so collaborative and experimental.  It helps you solidify who you are and your objectives.  It defines your physicality, more defines your relationship boundaries, and permits “happy accidents”…where something you might never ordinarily throw out there, is suddenly before you, and how you deal with it in the moment is so key to your character’s instincts that it teaches you more about their particular sense of self than prob’ly almost any previous homework you have ever done on them.

This play is such a showy piece of theatricality.

…It takes a steak and potato dinner and tosses it out, in favor of a five-course French dessert cart, with a host of pastries, candies and delectables, all dressed in complicated sauces, whipped creams, and sprinkles.  There is so “muchness” in fact, that wading through it all is half the battle.  Just to whip up enough air to get out one of these incredibly articulate run-on sentences, is a major feat, let alone doing it whilst moving, in the costume restrictions we will be wearing, and in a field of comedy that makes most Americans look and feel like even bigger elephants on stage than usual.

Comedies of manners are hardly our forte.

…None of which is to say we are in any way dropping the ball over here.  We are (quite frankly) working our asses off.  I just want more of that. With specific
detailing, faster cue pick-ups, and co-built “bits,” manufactured, and worked on, with such ease in presentation that they appear as lovely little bon-bons of pleasure, served up on a silver tray, throughout.

It’s totally doable.

And we have the time.

…I have no idea how in the thick of it, Mdm. Director is planning on getting.

…But I hope it is far. 

We are eager.

I want to be pushed to the edge now.

I’ve got a good team, a safe house, a delicious character, and an excellent director sitting here in front of me right now.  And I just want to use up every last drop of them.

Anxious much?

Yep.

I. Am.

~D

Hello, From Vacation

23 May

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I have traveled to “Vacation” since last we met, and it is very fine here. 

…They serve post-rehearsal margaritas (and laughs) for free.

It’s this whole package deal they have.

I’m on a 4-day hiatus from the day-job, as stipulated by the Boss. He has never (in six years) stipulated that I take time off on purpose.  And this is only because the clouds of impending doom are just there on the horizon…we can all smell the sales storm coming…so he figured he’d force both me and the WHS Pimp to take time off while we can, in view of the fact that we may not survive the summer to the next winter death knoll.

Makes sense, I suppose.

Either way: here I sit. 

…Much like I would on ANY night (come to think on it)…just as late, just as behind on the blogging, brain just as full of lines and blocking as ever.  Only difference is that tomorrow I get to make it my “profession” to be a person of leisure.  And I get to say “profession” as I will be getting paid to do it.  Whatever the “it” might contain. 

…Possibly a Grand movie (for I miss it…not that I even know what the hell is playing.)  Possibly a bookstore visit (because I haven’t got enough things to read as it is, or anything.)  Possibly an out-of-town field trip (location: unknown.)

…As long as my sober body is at the rehearsal by 7PM tomorrow, I am my own mistress of mischief.

…I only wish I was privately funded as well.

In Other News: Back when I was supposed to be sleeping across last night and early morning, but couldn’t (thanks to Mrs. Johnson), I indulged in a little downloaded “Wilde,” the bio film with everyone and their mother in it.  I had forgotten how many of my absolute favs were a part of it.  And often in cameos, at that. I can’t say it was exactly “delightful,” but the frequent one-liner Wildeisms gave many a snickering relief to the drama…and if there is a more perfect person to portray the great Irish wit than Stephen Fry, I call “Bollocks” on it!

…Plus, everyone was so damn young! 

…Jude Law is at his absolute MOST beautiful, no one even knows who Ioan Gruffudd is as yet, Michael Sheen is still baby-faced (even with the moustache), Judy Parfitt is decades from becoming a St. Raymond’s mainstay in “Midwives,” Jennifer Ehle looks about 18 years old (though she is 2 years past her famously delicious Lizzy Bennet phase), and Redgrave, Jones, Wanamaker and Wilkinson round out the parents and intimates, in a casting wet-dream of ridiculous pedigree.

A hard “watch” for content, but a classic in natural flow of the Wildean ways.

…Also started reading “De Profundis” the other night.  Tough stuff.  Very raw.  Very intimate.  Keep taking breaks only because I feel such an overwhelming sense of reading someone’s diary when I shouldn’t be.  Quite a statement, and self-account, and accusatory testament. The harshness of his self critique, and what he felt as a disloyalty to art and work and the finer aspirations in life, for a love affair…(or obsession, however you might choose to see it)…all in retrospect.  Makes some of his most famous of lines, so poignant, behind the scenes of their actual creation.

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

…Indeed.

~D

Killing Off The Lead

19 May

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I’d like to start a petition to kill off Mr. Selfridge from the next season of “Mr. Selfridge,” only they almost never will kill off the lead.  Especially when the whole show is titled for him. And it’s based on history. And he lived into his 90’s.

…I can’t take watching Jeremy Pivin that long.

…I can’t take watching him this long.

I get this horribly overwhelming empathy for every poor bastard he does a scene with, which actually drives me to continually shout at the screen in every scene he is in.  Things like:

“HOW ARE YOU THIS BAD AND STILL EMPLOYED?!”

“WHY DO YOU HAVE TO YELL EVERY SINGLE FUCKING LINE?!”

“HOW DO YOUR BRITISH CHILDREN AND AUSTRALIAN WIFE ALL SPEAK WITH BETTER AMERICAN ACCENTS THAN YOU?! YOU COME FROM ILLINOIS!”

“I’VE WATCHED TAMPON COMMERCIALS WITH PEOPLE WHO EXPRESS MORE CHARACTER MOTIVATION!”

“WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE THE ONE REPRESENTATIVE AMERICAN…YOU MAKE US ALL LOOK LIKE TOTALLY TALENTLESS, INCOMPETENT, ASSHOLES!”

“I HAVEN’T BEEN THIS PISSED OFF FROM TOTAL WASTE OF CO-ACTORS SCENE-GIFTING, SINCE THE TOM CRUISE CASTING FIASCO IN ‘VALKYRIE’!”

“HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE SEXUAL CHEMISTRY WITH THAT?  HAVE YOU SEEN HER?!?”

…and…

“WHHHHHHY?!?”

…I’ve stuck with it because the critics are right: tons of other characters are totally invested and worth it.  ‘Specially the women. Which just makes him stick out worse.  My old favorites are acting perfectly up to speed of my expectations of their excellence, and new ones have been found to join them in the ranks.  It is often delightful, always eye-candy, the wigs make me breathless, (and the Frenchman), I’m appropriately in love with everyone I’m supposed to be, and hate the ones I’ve been taught to…except for the leading character…which is just totally screwing up the whole balance of everything.

…He was bedridden for one episode and it was one of the best parts of my day. Cuz he slept through about 85% of it.

…Then the bastard woke up again.

…And I yelled at the screen some more.

Meantime, I feel I should clarify that this is not merely a matter of a “character” I happen to dislike, (as one frequently does in BBC drama…and usually for well plotted and planned out reasons, as supplied by the writers.)  I am saying that the character would be ideal if played as written…by a seductive, charismatic, likable human, with some shred of sexual chemistry, and the ability to deliver a line without yelling it in a monotone manner at whomever he happens to be facing at the the time. 

…And yes, I have to say “yelling AT” because he has yet (7 episodes in) to have an actual “conversation” with anyone.

…And I have to say “facing” because that is all he does.

…And I have to say “lack of any sexual chemistry” as he (apparently) fucks everything that moves, and yet every times he goes to kiss one of the poor women I actually, physically wince for them.

If one was looking for someone to “SHARE” a scene, or converse appropriately, or conduct some sparks with: Joe American Entourage King, sure as hell ain’t it.

…He ain’t.

…And isn’t.

…And I’ve been festing this now across some days.  

…So I feel like I’ve certainly given him more than a fair share of opportunity to prove me wrong.

…But he didn’t.

…And he won’t.

…And I know there is a second season coming.

…And because I’m a history geek, I know that bastard is gonna live forever.

…And I’m sorta really bummed out about it, frankly.

…(And that Lady Mae didn’t re-sign. Cuz she’s one of my most delicious character favorites.)

Oh, the woe that is my LIFE!

…Good thing I’m back to rehearsals tomorrow.  My artistic frustration needs a good blowout.  Obviously, yelling at the TV isn’t quite cutting it.

~D

The Trifecta

11 May

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Have been spending quality time studying some lovely Aussies of late.

…Mostly their English works, of course.

The theme is by accident, not design. 

…Have been indulging in “An Idea Husband” where Cate Blanchett serves up a steady dose of dignity and propriety, while playing with Wilde’s words like the pro she is.  Followed by a Frances O’Connor kick…because she was such a delicious Gwendolen herself, and though I refuse to watch her working at it (for my own good), I can watch her natural play and ease and bite in other pieces, guilt-free.  So I do. 

…”Mr. Selfridge”, “Iron Jawed Angels,” Mdm. Bovary,” and currently: “Mansfield Park.”

Every actor has their “forte,” no matter how eclectic their works. 

Blanchett was born with the baring of a queen, a woman with insane amounts of strength and power.  Quite smartly, she’s played them frequently.  With command and elegance and unquestioning authority. 

…Very much a Gwendolen trademark, and I will borrow from it liberally, thank you.

Meanwhile, O’Connor nearly explodes with her inward eagerness to explore possibilities.  She manages to achieve a frequent feeling as if she is somehow cooking over a slow flame, bringing an intriguing energy, constantly drawing your eye to even her smallest choices.

…If you’re unfamiliar with her, she might be an amalgamation of a Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle…I’d say.  Though, Kate at her neutral is more explosive and raw, and Jennifer (only the best Lizzy Bennet of all time): more dimply with blatant laughter in her voice.

In the end: I defy anyone to out-English these Aussie ladies.  They absolutely own it…giving me two sides of excellent modeling to work from…though I am still at quest for a final third. 

From Cate: That deeply-cut and cultured dignity…at the very height of “womanity.”  From Frances: That deliciously naughty period-specifc nature of being up to no good and being quite good at it.

…What I need next, is my Farce-queen.

We are pressing the limits of our design, up to the absolute edges of sex and comedy…farce being my least experienced skill, for sheer lack of practice after  doing decades of drama, after drama, after drama.

I have a wealth of teachers at my disposal, but have yet to pick the athletically-comedic poster-girl, that will complete my team of artistic direction for planting Gwendolen firmly where she should be.

…Have found the voice. 

…Have found the still postures and posings.

…Still exploring the confines and explosions of her sexual nature.

…Not even begun on the boundaries of the “ridiculous.”

I need to find my missing teacher.

…So specific. 

None of the screwball comedic ladies of the 30’s will work.  It requires more dignity. Maybe a Myrna Loy/Nora Charles vibe?

…Ultimately, I want an almost theatrical vastness and presentation. Not “farce” so much as “grandness.”  (Which is different.) Rooted in seriousness, that is funny only because she takes it so seriously. As if she’s seen twenty-too-many three-act love stories on stage, and very much fancies herself as playing the heroine in real life.

…Like a silent movie.

Yes!

That’s what I need!!

I’m not going back far enough!

Time to pull out and play with some Gish and Garbo I think.

Garbo.

…Ohh…..Garbo. 

Fuck. Yes.

Totally deliberate.  Completely serious, always with life-and-death consequences. Sexual vibe in spades.  Fantastic body posture usage and expression when words are not enough.

BAM!

Two Aussies, and a Swede walk into a bar, and: My new English trifecta is born.

…Study blogging narration saves us again!

Woop!

~D

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