Tag Archives: book work

Hi, I’m Your Brain On “Creepy”

27 Jun

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I’ve been off book for three days…which is weeks past my usual time in the process. Absurdist Theatre and my memory sectors do not like one another. In fact they have fast become enemies. I think if I hadn’t finally managed to commit that goliath fuck-all Norma-Desmond-monologue-from-hell to my brain by Tuesday, I was gonna shiv that script with a spoon.

…But I did. So I didn’t.

…Which now brings us to deeper book and character work, while constantly murmuring disturbing monologues about singing songs while cutting up people to bits, burying them in the garden, and at night, “watering their toes with a little hose.” Or the one where I almost strangle my own sister, or the one where we plot how many pills it takes to poison someone…or the most grimacing one: about stabing pins into my belly to abort all the foetus’ I throw into the gutter thanks to being continually raped by the milkman.

…These are not happy places to be going, in one’s brain. It’s disturbing enough when you’re just chanting the words on a technical level in order to word associate, picture them on the page, and retain them. Once you step OUT of the book, it becomes this whole other thing to actually “deal” with them…to internalize them…to justify them, to give them emotional power and support…to OWN them.

…This kind of text, when you are burried in it, when you eat, sleep, and dream it…is a kind of poison you voluntarily consume. You have to be careful mentally to build up your immunity to it, as the drinks you take of it get bigger. You can’t expect to come in as a lightweight and kick back a whole bottle, cold, and be able to function in any way at all by end of the night. It takes time to train for this shit…to prep, self- monitored slow accumulation to build up tolerance…and (perhaps most importantly) you’ve got to aquire one hell of a “cleansing/hydration plan,” to help rip you out of that mental space every night before going to bed.

…It doesn’t always prevent the creepy brain hangover, but it surely helps…till the project is finally done and you can check yourself into mental rehab.

…Which (from where I sit at present) is still four weeks away.

Perhaps now isn’t really the best time to become obsessively in love with “Orphan Black” Season 2 (team Helena/Cosima)…but I am. The terrible/wonderful part being that I’ve nearly consumed it all now, which means there will soon be no more left to feed on. I will have to then go to other pastures. Hopefully ones with less eye-gouging and blood. Someplace where my poor little exhausted brains can rest peacefully…without the help of a whiskey, neat.

~D

Manic, Twisted, & Sexy

28 May

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Today, I have three less personalities to concentrate on, still leaving me with a sizable deck yet to be sorted.

…A great new program at the UWT has been attempting to launch a theatre works interest, not only to the student body but local community as well.  Some of it’s leading professors have brought in a handful of actors to work both with the student playwrights and faculty, to do read performances with talk-backs to get the ball rolling, and I’ve been supremely lucky to be amongst those handful. 

I LOVE contributing in my own backyard…my own city…blocks away from my little home.  I love that they are eager to bring more arts to the area, use it’s local artists as resources, engage audiences made of faculty and students and community, in talk-backs about social issues, politics, art, and literature.  I love being part of a grass-roots movement, and that as more and more educational systems are phasing OUT the arts in their schools, we have a very esteemed University staff stating, “No!  In fact, we don’t have ENOUGH!” 

…How awesome is THAT?!

(I know, right?)

…Which is WHY I now have three less contributors to my psyche, in as much as last night we finished another such read, with a wonderfully alert house-full, engaged in the process, the structure, and the event as a whole. A fine study on mental illness and addiction and the affects they leave in their wake. I had a hell of a lot of fun as the bipolar, self-drug-prescribing, alcoholic root of it all, playing with tight text, exercising a little of my own demons, and having an exhausting wale of a time. These are the kind of work outs, (when married with a dream cast of close buds), when you really getta blow it all out there with full conviction, knowing full-well you are supporting, and are supported by, the best.

It only gets better than this, when it’s up on it’s feet and in full performance…

…Which, speaking of, leads us to the next part of the personality deck: A twisted little tale of sisterly sexual obsession and dark deeds.

“The Maids,” a translation from the Genet original, is next up on the calendar…with hopes to butt it snugly up against a mainstay of my bucket list, which will be auditioning next week.

…So, currently, I’ve a Scouser hairdresser a-la Pygmalion (“Educating Rita”) sharing space with a twisted turn-of-the-century homicidal Frenchy who likes to play-act as others. It’s an interesting combo up in my head these days, to say the least…which I obviously love, as only an actor would voluntarily piggy-back that range and number of personalities together at one time. Dropping the manic-bipolar-drugged-up-drunk off my back, makes the rest left over seem almost feasible at this point.

…So now I’ve only to concentrate on the massive “Maids” line load, break down my script as to whom I am “playing” when, and prep a monologue. Pffft!! Piece of fucking cake!

…Except, minus the cake.

…Cuz I’ve seen what we are wearing in this little French horror story, and the deconstructed waste of seedy, stringy undergarments we will be sporting, while slithering all over one another, requires yet another diet regime to flog and whip my body into a submissive state that I feel comfortable slobbering all over a stage in my “altogethers.” Well, as comfortable as one can be, anyway.

…I wonder if going vegetarian is the key? I wonder if I could even fathom a world without meat for any real length of time?

…I wonder if The WHS Pimp would survive the wasteland of this office with an hormonal and pregnant receptionist, and a meat-addicted me on the wagon?

…Fuck that…would the WORLD survive it??

…This is prob’ly TBA.

…But definitely not till after I finish this donut…

~D

Back To The Book

7 Apr

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Neat thing about theatre, #586:

…It’s a living, breathing being of process.

Unlike film, there is never a day where the Director yells, “Cut! Print it!”, and that scene is set in stone for all of time.  Sure, you get the occasional “Post” work, but the concept and action and tone of the piece has already been set.  It’s in the can. 

…The only time that happens in the theatre is at bows on closing night.

…It’s one of the frustrating and delightful wonders that you can go 25 performances before you finally get that damn joke dead on and nail it, or find another link with something someone says about your character in Act One. 

Unless you totally close yourself off from being open and playing and connecting with the other actors and audience, you will find a million subtle differences from Opening night to Closing…in simple deliveries with a breath intake here instead of there, of covert covers for skipped lines, and new stresses on words which changes so many meanings, to silent expressions, differently infused energy, someone’s bad day which hasn’t fully been left off stage…to the average cold.  We take all these influences and run with them, which depending on what is thrown in, is what makes the “stone soup” of that specific performance, which will always be different from tomorrows and yesterdays…because live theatre is like that.

…But aside from this technically obvious difference from our film friends, we also get a full rehearsal process not always granted to the camera kids. 

Different Directors rally the cast and run the process as they desire…there is no “set” way, ‘long as the through-line point is to discover the characters as the playwright intended them to come to life, to be true to the text, and mine it for hints and foresight into themes, plot, intents, reasoning, and supporting the piece as a whole.  The Director’s job, is essentially to point towards the destination of intent, and guide you in your work to get to it by rehearsal’s end.  Not because that means, “it’s over,” but rather, “here’s where we congregate in the piece’s space.”  A Director has to be able to not only enlighten and inspire, but goal-keep and referee…encouraging you to take initiative, explore the possibilities and work at unpeeling the onion-like layers of character to be discovered,  while also kicking the ball back in bounds when things go all to hell, and making sure we play fair.  

…Which is where an “out of town” Opening comes in.

The big boys…like Broadway and some of the seminal Regionals do this.  In film terms, it’s the same as a “sneak preview.”  It’s means a soft, limited opening in a less prestigious town, or venue, across several weeks or months. A limited number of seats are sold, used as a tester audience to see where the laughs are, what scenes are too slow, which need a reworking or edit, and when all else fails, when it’s time to start looking at re-writes and more work-shopping.

…For the smaller houses around the country, we usually get one day to do this, which is the day directly before Opening (good, bad or otherwise.)  As you can imagine, this allows very limited alterations to the piece before it’s out there for the general public (and critics)…unless you want to risk freaking out your actors forcing them back into their heads less than 24 hours before there are paying butts in the seats…or a radical intervention is deemed necessary.

…Sometimes, however, this natural stream of events can change in drastic ways as early as Tech, the week leading into Opening. This is when all designers and Artistic Directors and general Top Brass, will be seeing the piece for the first time as a cohesive unit, and this frequently leads to what we call, “clusterfucks”…or “Hell Week.” It is so termed because everything seems to be thrown at you: last minute changes are swapped here and there without ceremony, props come and go and come again, costumes flip and flop are added to and taken away, last minute light adjustments mean blocking changes, re-spiking because of new set pieces, all while you’re breaking in the wobble in your new heels (last worn by a bow-legged cowboy?), rework hair and makeup, adjust to new props arriving nightly…remember lines, and the newest version of blocking…while being fucking hilarious, or tragically horrifying, as the case may require…while pages of changes to all of it, are passed onto you nightly.

…And sometimes those adjustments, three days before Opening, require such a significant hoist of alteration, that you have to go back to the script, take out a pencil, and relaunch into a slam-study session, like a last second finals exam.

It’s good. It’s tight, but the time is there. This isn’t Preview. The answers you are looking for will be there…and the new direction you’ve been pointed is usually not a panicked random adjustment…but often introducing a linchpin that will lock and load that final element that has been missing. If you’re “game,” this can be a final layer-building key, gaining access to that illusive something you’ve not been able to grasp up to this point.

…It can also, because of it’s drastic change in nature, scare the flipping hell outta you.

…But if you think of it like the roller coaster climbing the last clicks to the top before it just lets go out from under you, it helps. The more clicks, the higher you go, the further the free-fall, but the more awesome the overall ride…

…Provided you don’t piss your pants or barf all over the place…

Fortunately, I’m a whiskey-gut from way back. So, “bring on the work, bitches…am totally good for it.”

~D

Dead Internets Day

9 May

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We had no internet until 2:30 today at work…which makes a person extremely unproductive, lemme tell yuh.

…Everything, short of our schedule, is collected on the servers so we have constant access…which only works (btw) when you have: constant access.

…So there was that.

A lot of filing was done.  And also, a lot of lunch-eating. 

By the time we got back online, I had less than two hours to achieve an entire day’s work…which I very nearly achieved. (Two reports short.)

…So it goes.

And now we hit Friday.  And a payday. 

(Which my bill-sucking-friends will be so very happy about.)

So thankful to be back in the south-end doing shows again, as it’s already saved me about $40 in gas, just this week alone.

Score!

Tomorrow’s rehearsal is all book work and application.

Good stuff.

And am fucking finally off book for Act One (and a smidge of two.)

…Taking forever.

Off to wash m’face now. 

And contemplate sleepage.

~D

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