Tag Archives: hysteria

12 Oct

…I have to think of something else.

My brain has been full of horrible thoughts for far, far too long. It has consumed me entirely. It has stripped me of everything from joy, to my health, to my dignity. And with nothing else to lose, (except, of course there is,  and when you’re me and my brain, we can even itemize them out for you…alphabetically, if you so choose) I sit here in between hour two of what will be a lot more, running lines tubed into my left ear, via my phone headset…during work, with the still dark thoughts absorbing me where they should be concentrating on lines I’ve had to relearn so many times now, that I can’t remember the count.
I’ve failed at a lot of things in life, but this was always the one thing I could count on to be solid. 

Art. 

Theatre.

I’ve always worked my damn ass of to assure that no matter what, I am prepared. I am professional. I am solid. Because I have no other self-identity other then being an actor. It’s what I am. It’s what I do. It’s my purpose. And now it’s failing me too. Or rather, I’m failing it. 

A lot terrifies me. But my “purpose” leaving me, is now officially taking the damn cake. I couldn’t try grasping frantically for some shred of recognition or safety more, if my life depended on it. And it feels very much like it does. Couldn’t pray harder. Couldn’t lose more sleep, push more, plead more, cry more, melt down more. I couldn’t lose more dignity if  every bodily fluid expelled at once, on stage vs the humiliation I put myself through, at last night’s rehearsal.

…Absolutely zero control.

Despite an extremely understanding and totally supportive team, I can’t help but see the inevitable trajectory this shit-fest is taking, and my total inability to stop it…despite all major efforts I am attempting to negate it.

I just closed “Dark” on Sunday, and “Blithe” opens in 8 days. I have never struggled like this for the most basic requirements of doing the job I need to do, on that stage. Never mind the character, I can’t even get grasp on the fucking text. What should be a light and airy word-play of epically brilliant double-entendres, and bitch-bitey exuberance, is a nightmare of impossible-to-recall word specifics that no one uses outside of a Mensa meeting, and broken record of Agatha Christie repetition-hell, of saying the same thing, slightly different and more catty, 13 times, in 15 different monologues, without rest.

Am still very broken from the last show, all but shattered before we’ve even opened this one. And for the first time I am really and truly actually questioning my ability to do this anymore. 

…And if I can’t. What in the flying fuck has it even all been about?

I’m trying to open a show in the middle of my biggest fucking mental breakdown since I’d been diagnosed, in 2009.

… I have to think of something else.

~D

Cracking The Code

23 Oct

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This one fucking monologue…

…I gotta figure it out. 

So far have tried 11 different ways, and so far have found 11 ways how NOT to do it.  It’s killin’ me. It starts my second Act, and is all high hysterics and ridiculousness, but not quite farce…which is really fucking difficult to gauge, not least of which because everyone on stage just looks at me with egg on their face watching it like a freak show, and it is the total opposite to my natural style of humor. 

…I am dry and bitchy, by nature. (hello, have we met?)  If you exaggerate that, you get dryer and bitchier.  “Hysteria,” is this whole other deal.

We do things to challenge us as performers, so I’ve done my fair share of farce and comedy, and though I’m not horrible at it, it ain’t exactly my forte.  So, the information I get outta rehearsals like last night’s, is that: “It didn’t work. Again.” 

…Now, I don’t always know WHY it didn’t work, in fact, most times I don’t at all…but I know when it does, and it has nothing to do with the reaction from the house right now…because this many weeks in, people never laugh at anything anymore, anyway. Cuz shit is only funny the first 20 or 30 times you try it.  After that, you’re kinda “over it.”  You just have to sorta trust it’s still funny, and go with it, until previews and things.

…Only I know it isn’t working.  I can feel it.  But I don’t know “why,” or what the answer is to MAKE it.

Here is how I look at comedy: Comedy is to timing, as Fosse is to a choreography. 

…That dude was fucking intricate.  One half millimeter of a finger arch and you were out of sync.  It’s like “this,” not “This.”  Specificity is the KEY. 

Comedy is like that

…One hair of a beat is the difference between HILARIOUS, and absolute crickets.  I don’t know why, but it is a fact.  Which is why Comedians don’t get NEARLY the credit they should, for an artform where one breath in the wrong place screws the entire joke up…but some chick blubbering in a corner, with snot running all down her face, will win the Oscar.  Every. Single. Time. 

…The snot isn’t “timed.”  I can almost guarantee you that anyone playing a rape victim, or watching a loved one die, would be able to work themselves up to that level of disturbed ugliness, with very little imagination and timing involved.  Drama is all on your own clock, at the viewer’s expense.  Comedy is all on the VIEWER’S time, with phantom rule books of how long to hold, turn, smile, nod, grin, hiccup, slip, fall, smack, pop, bash, wink, slobber, flash, burp, squash, run, jump, or shriek, at any given time with constantly changing table-ratios of balance, depending on which order they fall in, at what point in the scene, which characters are involved, and if the audience is sleepy, bored, restless, horny, infectious, or has indigestion. 

…It’s like the most intricate math formula ever.

It’s ALL of that, (aka: reading the room) PLUS, just knowing what works and what doesn’t…when to “play” it big and when to play it “straight,” (which is also funny, but a different kind.)

…I KNOW funny when I see it.  And I can figure out most the time, when I DO it…both while throwing it away, and doing it on purpose.  But so far, top of my second act, all I know is:  It isn’t working. 

We open in 18 days. 

So that is really starting to bother me.

…And I’m not goaling for a milk-sop fest of feedback, here.  I don’t need hysterics from them.  All I need is to complete the take without feeling like a giant scene-deflating asshole, or freak other-worldly alien, directly ending into a set change. 

So far, I have not once accomplished this. 

…And I’ve totally done it in legit, no-holds-barred, hysterics at least twice…so it isn’t that I ain’t willing to “commit.”

I need another way to look at it.

…But I don’t know what.

…Time to hit the books (aka: the DVD collection) and fish out some instances that someone used, at some point, sometime, to help me figure this out.  There IS a way to make it work.  People have only managed it for several hundred freakin’ years is all.  And if THEY can do it, I can do it!  And I can do it MY way!  I just need some quiet time, in an open space not shared amongst apartment dwellings, where I can beat the shit out of it, at full vocal level, until it knows it’s place. 

And I need to not panic that I WON’T find it in time, cuz that just is NOT fucking helping me right now.

~D

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