Tag Archives: dress

14 Costume Changes & Some Acting

29 Aug

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Bit of a clothes horse, me.

…An option of fitting a first dress in before tech was jumped on, so we could focus on one horrifying onslaught before a tidal wave of others come in to cream us this Saturday. And so, a first dress was had. Last night. And it wasn’t particularly brutal on anything except my feet (dear three and four inch heals…you’re assholes. It’s a good thing you’re cute.)

….Anyway…we charged ahead, I broke some things, we managed line-call-free, fit in all my 14 costume changes, and called it a late night for the first time since we began rehearsals…but we DID it, which I think is the important thing to focus on at this point.

…At this point.

The last time I did a two-hander show was “Oleanna”…again: a professor and a student, having at one another for two hours of stage time. Just me: just him. That’s it, folks.

…The amount of focus, LISTENING, line retention, blocking and prop movement is insane. It REQUIRES nothing less than 100% lock-and-load on the other actor…so that no matter what choices/accidents/line-flubs/enlightenments/emotions are flying around through the air between you…you are a one-entity receptor.

…It’s like ballroom dancing, in a two-hour-long competition, where we both take turns taking the lead, changing styles from fox trot to samba to waltzing seamlessly, at any given moment, and attempting to do it all without one single misstep. Your anchor is in the eyes of the other guy…you make the audience phase out into the wallpaper and bookcases of your world, and together you begin on step one…and it never ends or eases up until the curtain goes down.

…And we know this from experience. As even before costumes and props were added, every break has been filled with line running and blocking, since day one. We don’t pop out of focus, we still can laugh, take a slog of water, and a quick slash…but damn if we’re not still running a monologue while in the loo, walking blocking while feeding from a water bottle on set, or futzing with props ad nauseum. Because we have to. And that’s okay. Because we happen to really fucking love it, you know?

…Like really. A lot.

Difficult is good. Frustration can be tempered and recycled into something better next time, thanks to the lessons you’ve learned. And when you click with a character who you know in your guts…who you can access without interruption in mind or manner…it’s a fantastic ride to be on. Even more so when you trust…really TRUST the team behind you, and that guy right there opposite you, on stage, every night.

…Even on the days of frustration and energy-sap…even when I know there’s more we can find in a moment (and we will, next time)…there is nothing lacking in the team work…in the connections we’ve made, in the amount of fight it takes for two people to command the stage alone… lifting words from a page, into something exciting and wistful, amusing and dangerous, hysterical and poignant, witty and humble. It’s an honor, a challenge, a fucking hell of a ride.

…And every night, when it’s over, the realization comes crashing in, on the ride home…as the adrenaline drains from every pore: and complete mental and physical exhaustion smacks us stupid with inevitable result. We are totally…right now…this second…living an actors dream.

Hells. Freakin.’ Yes.

Bring it, tech week.

~D

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…And Then There Were Exploding Biscuits

8 Nov

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Last night was a first.

…I dunno how I’ve gotten this far in costume drama and have never experienced it before…but last night I sneezed in a corset, for the first time.

…And we aren’t talking a wimpy, lacy lingerie version, here…we are talking a steel band, reinforced, Ren-Fair, stiffened leather, armpit to crotch, kind.

It was ‘tween scenes, waiting for a cross-over from the lobby.  Our Feste was standing next to me, and almost completely lost his shit with my reaction.  I dunno what in the world it looked like, but it felt like my ribs exploded into about 20 steel-ribbed reinforcements at roughly the speed of 40 MPH. 

…Maybe because they did.

…And because it was mid a scene on stage, I tried my best to muffle it.

I’ve never had cause to think of it before, but that shit will actually break your ribs. It’s sort of a notorious hazard, in fact…according to Google over here…which in all of my years, no one has seen fit to relay to me before. I guess common sense would inform you of it, but then when you have 11-hundred other things to worry about at the moment, accidentally sneezing doesn’t register that high on the list, strangely enough.

…So let it be known, you S & M/Period Drama/Renaissance Fair/Fashionistas: Kill the inclination. Kill it however you must. You don’t wanna go there- trust me.

…Like a very violent biscuit can tube, exploding when you’ve pulled the tab wrong and it doesn’t open the ceal properly.

(And thank you JM for that little nugget-example.)

…Honestly, I’m just glad that the front stays, along my bladder, didn’t push me into instant release.  Cuz it hurt pretty awesome, and I’m fairly sure if I had to go pee at that moment, it would have been all over for me at that point. A whole new direction to take the Character.

Tonight is Preview.

At. Fucking. Last.

…The energy yesterday on stage, was like negative 3…which some then tried too hard to over compensate for, in the form of milking the hell out of shit just to get a reaction…at all…anything…even a nose sniffle…or a sigh…or even the crinkle of a candy wrapper…just SOMETHING!

…I found early on that I had a crap case of chew-mouth…where every word was eaten, coming out in a miss-mash of anti-diction (despite all my warm-ups.) By the third scene, I realized I was driving precariously close to mime-intensity with my facial reactions, as if it would somehow make up for the fact that you probably couldn’t understand what the hell I was saying. Signing, over-gregariously, might help bridge the language gap in a foreign country, but not on this stage.

I am (sorry to say) one of those actors who tries much too hard to compensate for their failings, in endless spirals of self-consciousness, whenever I don’t happen to be feeling quite up to par. Its a dangerous place to live, difficult to control and navigate, and almost impossible to ignore. Last night, I spent nearly every single moment on that stage, inside my head…every line, every movement…an exhausting enterprise of constant second-guessing…which I blame on both being far too tired to trust it would happen as it needed to naturally, and also the fact that we are still playing to a vacuum of silence that is almost painful, it is so present, with anti-matter.

We’ve been ready for an audience since Monday, and are sapped of joy and urgency, in playing to an empty theatre of seats. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. And when we try to fix it at this point, it all just goes to hell. Not in a devastating way…more in a molasses-pull of slow suckage. Which is almost worse.

…But TONIGHT!

Oh, TONIGHT!

…At LAST, we will have viewing eyeballs, and butts in the seats, and people to interact with, and new infusions of energy, and purpose and design and play!

Tonight, we will finally start to figure out what is really funny, and what are just inside jokes which amused us that other people are never gonna get. Tonight we learn the balance of the comedy…how delicate we can make the somber moments…how conniving we can make the shenanigans. Tonight we get to dip into that little inkwell of nerves that gives performers their extra oompf.

…So thank you, ahead of time, to our Preview patrons! We’ve waited forever to hear you. So don’t be shy! Come whoop yourselves into a tizzy. We saved the first dance, just for you!

~D

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