Tag Archives: lines

On A Break, From Learning Lines

6 Aug

I feel so incredibly lavishly spoiled to say that phrase, so I’m just gonna say it again… 
“… On a break, from learning lines… ”

…Isn’t that divine? Isn’t it a lusciously brain-gasmically delightful collection of words forming this ultimate pampered-spoiling sense of artistic security,  dipped in a tantalizing chocolate coating of savoring yet-to-comeness?

… It has been so long since I’ve viewed this part of the theatre process as “fun”  or even a part of the artistic process…because it was always about getting the hell out of the book,  so I could “start to really get to work.” Like,  all of these years of working back-to-back-to-back on projects, I  was just totally taking advantage of the fact that there was this one distasteful part to BE “gotten out of the way,”  so I could do the other “real”  stuff. But,  after theatrically being unseasonably  dry since basically February…it’s like your first taste of wine after two weeks of antibiotics for a terrible cold you just can’t fucking kick, (going on round three. Not that I’m bitter.) 

… THIS SHIT IS MAGNIFICENT! Learning lines is suddenly like the best damn aperitif* EVER! 

(*Note: due to my total inability to spell in English,  never mind French,  my phone autocorrect  just suggested that line-learning is like the best damn “apartheid”  ever…which I’m pretty sure it isn’t even remotely, so: I win this round, autocorrect. You’re drunk.  Go home.) 

… Anyway, the point is: I have a job  again,  thus a sense of purpose reinstilled*. (not “reinstalled,” autocorrect. I said: Go. Home.)  I’ve got a character I am responsible for. Which exists in a literary context whom I am charged to bring to life in corporeal form. On a stage. And speak words. Which I am now learning in her specific sentence structure. So I can pretend it is my own. Which is a real grown-up job that people can get paid to do on this planet. And I am one of them, again. So: “hellz,  yeah,  and hallelujah!” 

(Sigh. Cough-cough-cough. Sigh.) 

… I just got worked up on fake theoretical paper while type-yelling, and it still made me cough. 

… I am so damn tired of this fucking cold. 

It’s the third version of it that I’ve had this summer, forcing me to everything from sleeping sitting up for days on end (which my neck-kink-from-hell is totally still yelling about), to not tasting food for weeks at a time (pretty sure I’ve pulled an “Ab-Fab” and have eaten potpourri “chips” a few times while streaming “Reign”  at 2 am while not sleeping,  and never even noticed),  as well as totally admittingly wearing Always pads for at least a week before my actual period, so when I coughed so hard that both ends leaked a little, no horrified small child in the cereal aisle would point at me and loudly tattle, “Mommy, that diseased lady just peed her pants!” requiring a messy human biohazard clean-up, in aisle four. 

… In short: this ongoing cluster-cold has totally humiliated me into a diaper-wearing, bronchial-honking,  codeine-addicted, hunchbacked,  snot-monster. 

.. And yeah,  I just totally wrote about it, to take my own power back. So,  suck it, viral-infection-from-hell! I’ll own all the shit* (*autocorrect :”you mean shot? “) you throw at me, and still get a job where they trust me to inhabit*(*autocorrect:” you mean habitat? “)  a fake person when I can’t even bodily take care of the real one I’ve been entrusted with! So fuck* (*autocorrect:” You mean duck? “) you! 

… And also: autocorrect?  It’s like…you don’t even know me. 

~D 

Line-Dom, Character Actor: For Hire

13 Jul

I’m paid in wine and tacos, am only available post-walk and laundry-washing, and will task-master your ass, tight as a Drill Sergeant. 

… Or (perhaps more appropriately), a Dom. 

… Have taken up a temporary second existence as a line-driller, for all those assholes (whom I love),  who have off-book deadlines, unlike some people we know. It’s a bittersweet existence. Line-learning is the only part of the job I don’t enjoy, so I envy none of that sadistic frustration in cramming two hours or more of text into my brains. 

… But, the rest… 

… Dear God, I do miss the rest of it. 

… Character analysis, relationship discoveries in rehearsal, trying to get to the the bottom of a difficult moment, playing with the comedy to find its every button without breaking it… wresting out a shitty day in a good growl of anger or heaving sob, turning all of it to your supreme benefit and cleansing. 

Being an out-of-work Actor is as shitty as it gets in my world…(and it can get pretty damn shitty, so that’s really saying a thing.)  I miss my “out”  and coping partner like as if a part of my anatomy dropped off back there, and is just laying on the ground, useless,  depressing, and frankly,  not super functional. 

… Am trying to plug along best as I can, but instead of passing time making it easier, it gets more unsettling, my walks more intense and kinda anger-fueled (with nowhere else to filter daily frustrations),  and I’ve gone back to watching so much BBC programming, I have to actually think about not speaking in an accent,  as a natural default. 

This is my only way to cope. 

… And now, I’ve added other people’s scripts to the mix…drilling my poor theatre-family bastards harder than an oil rig in Texas. 

It is rough to be mid-30s, as a woman: period. 

… As an “actor,”   even more-so. 

… Even as a “character actor” … (which frankly has surprised the hell outta me.)  I thought NOT being an ingenue would have guaranteed me “roles for life.”  But, aside from Agatha Christie…no one wants you,  except as the very occasional spinster aunt, or  nosey neighbor. Hollywood states you’re too old to be a mistress anymore at this age…but, I’d even get those if they popped up anywhere on the boards around here…though, they seem to be “out of season,”  just now. 

… And though I am old enough to play early mothers and wives,  “maternal” and “submissive but supportive”  aren’t my specialties…I’ve done ’em, but only rarely with joy. And all the good “fucked up” delineations of these are in that 40s to 50s range. 

… What I’m built to kill at right now are shrinks, or lawyers, or P.Is ….hell, even a person in the throws of a nervous breakdown, or a junkie on  the street…where are those roles in the theatre cannon for women?

(…Outside of Miss Marple, and the cast of “Rent” types.) 

… Anyway… here I sit. Watching the boards and waiting. A perfectly good “that one chick” who can play just about anything needed,  provided someone wrote it down on paper at some point. And then theatres put it into their damn seasons. 

… It’s really about trekking the mountain, waiting for all the 40-something roles you get to at the summit, but meanwhile thinking, “How the fuck am I gonna stay limber on script reads and ‘town gossips’  when I’ve got Martha in Virgina Woolf waiting for me up there?!” 

… I dunno. Any other lady-actors out there feelin’ m’pain?  

Meanwhile: I’m on a severe FB diet, as I have long come to the conclusion that death and politics are stressing me out almost as much as my day job. Which means that almost any existence I have on it,  is me posting something I read from the Guardian on a theatre thing, an occasional blog about general nothingness, and/or how excited I am about this one show I’ve seen on Netflix. 

… In fact,  if I had money to put into stock or properties…(like for instance, had I won that last Lotto Mega Million) , I’d have invested heavily in Fitbit and Netflix, as they are my consistent saving graces. (Together with the revolving Repertory Theatre that is “English Actors In General”  c/o iTv and the BBC. ) 

… I just want to BE them. How is that wrong…? 

… Is it October yet? God, this” wait for vacation” thing is fucking arduous.

~D

14 Costume Changes & Some Acting

29 Aug

image

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

Hi, I’m Your Brain On “Creepy”

27 Jun

image

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

The Infinity Waiting Game

12 Jun

image

Powerlessness blows bum.

…Next to the work-up about an audition for a specific role that you really really want…the next worst feeling, is when the audition is over, and for whatever specified number of days, you are told that you have to await the decision for final casting.

…Wait for hours that seem like months, days that feel like years…with zero control or information.

This is like living in your own little fate and anxiety-filled episode of Burn Notice…where any good or bad decisions you made in the past, have equal power to haunt or help you, but you don’t get to know which it’ll be…until after the longest FUCKING commercial break, known to man.

…Least, that’s how I see it.

…That’s how it looks from here.

…On day four.

…Since first walking in the theatre door with my audition piece.

…The day after the final callback.

…With possibly two more to follow, before final announcement.

Being an actor ain’t for sissies.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

…Now: Back to more line-learning…

~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:

image

Behind fake walls, with legs up.

image

View from a ledge.

image

Before hang and focus.

image

Building trade-goods.

image

image

Stand-ins.

image

image

image

image

Hard-working professionals.

image

Boss of The Book.

image

An empty house.

…So now you know.

~D

S’posed To Be…

26 Feb

image

Man, we are slow at the office.  Epic slow. Painful slow. 

The storm systems are killing our sales and everyone here is done with their day by like 9:30.  Going on week two.

…This is a good chance to do things like get paid to learn lines.  Which is what I should be taking advantage of right now, and not beating computer keys with my fingers, on a blog that has about as much plot purpose as a Seinfeld episode.

I have a purpose, but am choosing to ignore it.  Some more.  As I’ve already been ignoring it a lot to begin with.  But now I’m putting in writing that as soon as I get done with this SUPER informative episode of literary genius, I will immediately bust out my script and continue on with learning Act Two.

You are my witness.

…Course, I could choose to ignore all that last paragraph and stream more Netflix instead…how the hell would you know…but I won’t.  I will be the responsible actor that I should be.  I will fill up my coffee cup.  I will pull out my cue sheets.  I will open my script to page whatever-I’m-on, and roll it up in my fist, while pacing my office, stabbing the air occasionally with my word-sword as I chant sentences in repeat sessions like a fixated schizophrenic. 

…In this case: an overbearing Canadian Mother schizophrenic.

…I still have NO IDEA what the hell that even means…but I’ll figure that out later.

First come  the words.

…And the words from the page.

…And the page is in that bag over there.

…And if I just suck it up, and get to it…I bet I can be off book by 2pm.

…None of which will happen if I stay here.

…Doing this.

…Which has now just become a sad final attempt at procrastination.

…Involving ellipses as a bastard version of a postscript in which there was nothing to be said even in the main letter.

…The end.

P.S. No, but really.

~D

Ode To A Line Run

17 Aug

image

Lines. 

Running them ad-nauseum, just to make sure that they stick.  Mini pockets that don’t. For any number of reasons. 

…In this case: quick-succession repetition.

Pamela Edwards (the Brit), has a habit of repeating what she and other people say, forty or fifty times, but in slightly different orders.  Remembering which one we are on, gets tricky.  Also: the “one-worders.”

…This is an actual thing.  It’s not the proper name (prob’ly), but it’s what I call them.  They happen in Mamet, and comedy, frequently…and in farce, they run rampant. Mostly to show awkward social skills and sexual tension.

When you put someone who repeats things constantly (only in slightly different order each time) in a one-worder situation, you get something that looks a little like this:

(…Actually, you get something that looks a LOT like this…in that this is directly from the script.)

Hannay: That’s alright. Well —

Pamela: Well–

Hannay: –we ought to be–

Pamela: Yes —

Hannay: –going I suppose.

Pamela: Mmm.

Hannay: Right. Um —

Pamela: Yes?

Hannay: Which —

Pamela: What?

Hannay: — room are they staying in?

Pamela: Who?

Hannay: What?

Pamela: Who?

Pamela: Those two men?

Pamela: Sorry?

Hannay: The two men you overheard?

Pamela: Staying in?

Hannay: Mmm.

Pamela: Well, they’re not.

Hannay: Sorry?

***

…Believe it or not, these kind of lines aren’t the easiest to get.  Not only because you are telling a story about nothing, and have the panic situation of cutting the other guy off in time…(often having less than one word in order to remember what yours is again), but also the fact that if you fuck up at any point in the sequence, it all goes to absolute hell in a handbasket.  The beat-structure HAS to be the way it is written, or it’s like throwing a stick through the spoke of a bicycle, going at full speed down a heel.  Crash and burn, baby.

…And I guess the lesson I learned today, (while picking metaphorical gravel out of my bloodied hands, knees, and face), is that I have some more work here to do.

By the third section of this repeated dialogue style, I had completely lost any sense of rhythm, in utter despair of constantly fucked with word repetitions, and the final clip in my one-wording cue-a-thon turned into this: (Actual lines in quotes.)

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: No, “well.”

Me: “Well.” Yes?

Prompter: No.

Me: What?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: And I said, yes.

Prompter: No, ‘yes.’  Just “well…”

Me: What?

Prompter: It’s just, “Well.”

Me: Mine?

Prompter: Yes.

Me: So this time it’s just, “Well…” and “Well.”

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Okay, so take it back to the beginning.

Prompter: That was the beginning.  “Well…”

Me: “Well…you’re a free man…”

(Long pause.)

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: What? Line?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: No, not ‘cue,’ my line.

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: I know that’s next, but what is my actual line?

Prompter: “…ANYWAY.”

Me: What?  Read the whole thing to me.

Prompter: “Well…you’re a free man anyway.”

Me: Oh, it’s the end of the line this time.  Cuz it began it before, the last time…

Prompter: Right.

Me: …Followed by…?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: No, I know, I get it.  What’s the next cue.

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Right” is the cue.

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Can we go back?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: “Well.  You’re a free many anyway.”

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Saved the country too.”

Prompter: “We both did that.”

Me: “Not really.”

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: What?

Prompter: No, it’s “Right.”

Me: Which one?

Prompter: The first…one.

Me: So it’s Yes, Right, What…?

Prompter: It’s, “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Me: “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Promper: Then, “Yes.”

Me: THEN, “Yes!”

Prompter: — Right.

Me: THERE’S where it was…I knew a ‘yes’ was somewhere in there.  So, cue at the top of the one-worders again?

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: “Right.”

Prompter: “D’you want to–”

Me: “What?” 

Prompter: “Nothing.”

Me: “Quite.”

Prompter: “Better be going.”

Me: “Yes.”

Prompter: “Got the decorators in and — you know…”

Me: “Certainly do.”

Prompter: “Well — bye.”

Me: ” Bye.”

Prompter: …And scene.

Me: FUCK YOU, PAMELA EDWARDS, AND YOUR DIALOGUE WRITING TEAM!

Prompter: Want to run it again?

Me: Not even with a bottle of Jameson in my hand.

Prompter: So…a break?

***

…So this was my break.

I guess.

…Obviously have some more work to do.

…So, I guess I’ll go back to doing it. Then.

Think kind thoughts for me…

~D

Nod Off

21 Jul

image

I can’t keep the eyes open long enough to finish the blog of intent, so here is what you get:

Place-filler.

Am about to begin a new week and a new script (in earnest), committing lines to m’brains until they stick, and running accents until my tongue muscle gives out.

…Not as sexy as from overuse of rampant kissing escapades, but we take what we can get, folks.

And right now, it could so be a lot, lot worse.

So, yay for that.

~D

Mushy Stuff

16 Jul

image

I hate mushy stuff.  Hallmark cards are the worst things ever…like little Lifetime Movies waiting in an envelope. 

I…like to laugh.  I like to laugh, even when I cry.  Even when it emotionally hurts.  Even when something has really affected me.

…I’d say, “especially” in those cases.

…Which is why I think the invention of the Victorian-themed meme is the best thing since they added milk-fat to chocolate.

…And why closing notes to a Director I particularly love, after as show I’ve been particularly fond of,  will look a little something like this:

***

Dearest Prof~

It’s already been a too-crazy work week with nothing going right, filled with evenings that I can’t seem to fill no matter how hard I try.

…Yesterday evening, I was on my 11th “project” of the night (ie: stuffing my face with rice krispy treats while reading Empire Magazine) after already taking a long walk, doing dishes, helping Ma start moving, and spending an interminable ten minutes just staring at the ceiling…when my door buzzer went off.

“Thank god! Maybe it’s a Mormon who wants to convert me!” I thought, “I can *easily* milk that into three or four hours of free conversation…!”  

…But then, when I picked up the receiver to  buzz them in, I heard a little voice I know all too well at the other end.

Little Voice: “Hi, Gwen.  It’s me again…”

…So entered Cecily.  Where she stayed.  Until about 1 am.  In keeping to our now habit.

Cecil: “It’s been 24 hours.  And I missed you.  Am I disturbing anything?”

Gwen: “Only death by boredom.  Your hair!”

Cecil: “I know, I straighted and cut it. I also started my second job today, and bought a new wardrobe I can’t afford…and these earrings. ”

Gwen: “I contemplated taking a shower before work.  Then: didn’t. We do depression very different.”

…And so on…until both girls were laughing, and then crying from laughing, while having a picnic of tater tots at midnight on the futon…that everyone’s sister’s aunt’s brother’s cousin has slept on at some point across these past several weeks…which I’ve been too lazy to fold back up into a couch after the last run.  (A Gwen and Cecil sleep over going into our final Sunday show.)

It was good.

…The visit.

…And it also kinda saved your reputation.  

…Because frankly, you made us have too much fun learning and growing as people and actors and things…knowing full well all the time that at some point it would end, and we’d all be just sitting here like this with egg on our faces, like someone pooped in our morning Cheerios.

(That simile is mixed, I know, but I’m upset so just go with me on this journey and stop fighting it, okay?!)

…And anyway, in the end, instead of just “pretend” liking these people because I basically HAD to, in order to get the job done, I ended up liking them for realsies AFTER all…which means that Cecily and Earnest et al will never really leave me…they just go on extended vacations and get married and cut all their hair off, is all.

…In the end, I made a new young friend, who keeps me honest about working hard and trying to a set a good example, while simultaneously accidentally making me feel old as fuck… and got chummy with an old friend, who wasn’t even really a “real” friend, until I start pretending to be obsessed with him every night, across two months of time.

…And the other family members and buds have been great-making too.

…Plus I learned a whole lot…about a new kind of “funny,” and new ways to use my tool kit as a performer, and to allow myself to “play” more…also adding my first  legit acrobatic stunts to the resume! (I’m calling it a “backward lounge triple sow cow jump” or  the “Fairfax Flip” — pending trademark. )  

Really, you’re to blame for *all* of it, when you think about it.

…So I *hope*…as we all mope about in abject and total lack of motivation to join humanity, for sheer show withdraw depression…that you are fucking *happy* with yourself!

…I really hope so!

And as I sip on my orange spice market tea, and crunch on my English toffee, mentally sobbing for brilliant lines I’ll *never* get to say again, (and only got the joy to for all those weeks and weeks because of you to begin with)…I’ll try and pretend like that script over there  on my table, waiting for memorization, will be just as fun as this all was.  

…But I secretly won’t really believe it.  

Instead, I let it sit there, dormant for a few more days.  Because it’s too soon to wipe Gwendolen’s lines off the chalkboard of my mind, to replace with the words of another person’s.

…And I blame you for that too.

So: thanks a freakin’ lot!

Your,

Forever-Gwen xo

***

…Which about says it all, I think.

~D

Things That Go “BANG!,” And Mournful Bunting

4 Jul

image

Home early from The Fella’s, and In-Laws. Stone. Cold. Sober.

…I’m sure this in not how the Founding Fathers intended America’s biggest party day of the year to end, for me.

But here I sit. 

…Because work is tomorrow, (after a Holiday sales blitz), with the beginning of a weekend full of shows riding it’s ass, like white-on-rice.

I feel I planned well, in-all, as plenty of drinking happened earlier in the day to offset the not-having-any-later, deal. Plus, having eaten half a cow and a lot of pig (with incidental greenery on the side), I think absorbed all the residual alcohol, and/or coerced it into helping break down all the stuff in m’guts, soon after.

…Which is basically a “workout,” if you look at it in some ways. (Like the world where ice cream doubles as your dairy qualification for the day.)

The amount of food I’ve had across these past two days, does worry me a bit.  Not so much in the fact that I won’t fit into my costumes…(that’s what a corset is for)…but that it will be exponentially more uncomfortable to be squeezed into them.

…But I haven’t totally ignored my responsibilities in that realm. I did manage to run lines today with The BFF, (as in days of old), to  keep verbally fit and ready for tomorrow. And as part of my coming-home-early-to prep-for-tomorrow bit, finally fished out my tights from the show-bag, where they have lazily resided all crumpled and stinky, since last Sunday. 

…And now, as I listen to endless pop-rockets, snap-dragons, and gunpowder bangs outside my window, clean black tights hang in their place along the shower rod…drooping like mournful, wet, bunting.

There is something strangely satisfying in my bathroom being taken over by show laundry, hanging to dry. 

Tradition. 

…Harking back to centuries of other show people, from Vaudeville to the legit stage, who have done it before me, and will long, long after I am gone. 

Some things never change:

…The late-night excessive banging of illegal fireworks outside your bedroom window on the fourth of July…and prep, the evening before your next performance, being two of them.

Happy Independence Day, friends!

~D

It’s Like English, Only More So

4 Jun

wpid-The_Importance_of_Being_Earnest_26236_Medium.jpg
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

Epic Lines

31 May

image

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

If The Boat Sinks, Just Use Your Hat

20 May

image

Tentatively off book, and blocked the second to the final scene tonight.

Tomorrow brings on the “big reveal.”

…Time to start thinking speed, clean-cuts, pointed asides, and play with the full register of vocal and body movements so we can find what we like and add it to the tool kit.

Head out of the book: it’s play time.

…Also getting the itch to start working with my hair design, after watching all those extraordinary wigs from “Mr. Selfridge” all weekend. 

Doing Gibson Girls of that range are incredibly difficult on yourself…not to mention exhausting on the arms, for all the reaching and pinning and curling and spraying and teasing and ratting required in order to build it.  Astonishing esthetic and silhouettes. Totally worth it.  Though, I should be mindful NOW, that I’ll be moving about ten pounds of hats and hair around while onstage with me at all times, which will make fast turns, and certain postures, pretty impossible.

…Dearest Jack is about 6’2″…(which might as well be 7’9″ for all that height will mean in our love scenes.) I shall be getting quite familiar with his belly button, in future, I suppose…as looking up that high, without a hair-and-hat land-slide, will be damn near impossible.

Lucky for our ever-so-great grandmothers, they grew the men shorter in those days.

…But even still, they must have had necks of steel by age 30.

…Presumably to match their rib cages.

In Other News: Began second trailer today.

…Which reminded me that I hadn’t shown you the first one yet.

…So, here:

In the meantime, I think I’m off for some hot tea and a bit of a read.

~D

Plowed

14 May

image

Rehearsal kicked my ass tonight…or rather, I kicked my own ass AT rehearsal tonight.  Every moment not consumed in my first fitting or on stage was spent pacing at furious speeds outside, while running my lines, hoping it would somehow help them stick with the sheer force of energy.

…This went on for 3 hours.

…And for all of that, I kept screwing them up when I really actually needed them, anyway.

I don’t know what the fucking mental block on this is, but I’ve easily dedicated twice the amount of time to these lines than my last two shows put together, and the cocking things just won’t fucking stick.

…All my usual bag of tricks have been applied. The retention is massively slow, and occasionally word-spotty.  I might get three of the four direct adjectives in a row, but always forget that one middle one…the one that begins with an “R”…and ALWAYS screws up the flow of my recitation by going AWOL whenever possibly able.

I really just can’t do any more tonight. 

…Off book for Act 1 and half of Act 2, which would be great at one-week in…if that didn’t take me about 18 hours to accomplish, and still in a lot of cases, only “tentatively.”

…Things at work weren’t really the greatest, either, actually.

It all adds up.

I’m tired.

I’m gonna go to bed now and think of “not-lines” and forget about Corporate Reports on PURPOSE.

…Possibly contemplate how I’m going to clean my entire house in like 15 minutes tomorrow, after work, before some road tripping California Cousins arrive.

…And also: pay bills.

Gawd. I could really go for a glass of wine right about now…

And a thing of chocolate, with a side of grease.

And potatoes.

Instead, I’ll gargle mouthwash and go to bed.

Not a cool trade-off, friends.

~D

Dead Internets Day

9 May

image

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

The Bit With The Pickle

8 May

image

Cramming lines with the same unusability in daily verbiage as Shakespeare, without the help of a meter.

…And run-ons from hell that even make this pot, call the kettle “black.”

Add in the extremely cultured dialect of the upper crust and it just gets ridiculously chewy.  Delicious sentences to read, and speak, but not to commit to memory.  The exceptions and strange specific placing of certain words after others, (which do not necessarily go together and/or trip you up), is a constant.

…And I don’t even have the worst ones.  Those jewels of unfathomability belong (for the most part) to my dear “Mamma.”

However, I do have my fair share. Things like:

“…That is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.”

…Which means careful attention to delivery, or it all rolls into a ball of total nonsense to the listener, and might as well be in Hindi for all the relatability it have to the American audience ear.

…So then finding the rhythm is necessary, (though it is constantly changing speed and texture.)

…Which means hashing the script to bits, breaking down the text into bite-sized pieces to properly chew, digest and (ultimately) memorize (please God.)

Then, of course, you also have the bit-pieces…and rim-shots as well. Like:

“I never change, except in my affections.”

And…

“The suspense is terrible.  I hope it will last.”

They are peppered amongst the extremely formal sentence structure, at (what appears) total random.

…Which somehow makes both funnier, for their direct contrast.

(There is, of course, nothing “random” about it.  Every sentence is measured and set specifically. By a master.)

It’s like that bastard actually knew what he was doing when he wrote it!

I love that well-over 100 years later, it is still laugh-out-loud funny.  And clever.  And sexual.  And enticing.  But can still hop a-pace lithely on it’s toes, peopled in a world which somehow accommodates foppish men-children, mistaken identities, sexual farce, and ball-busting dowagers, in a society of manners, with men-servants, multiple secret engagements, feather-brained tutors and a baby in a handbag…all at the same time.

…Which reminds me:

Built the trailer today. 

A new favorite. 

…Have to wait-out the weekend before I can post it.  The theatre gets dibs on it’s premiere. 

…M’favorite bit is with the pickle.

…Which I’ll just leave hangin’ out there for you to try and figure out. (Though, you won’t.)

Cuz I’m mean that way.

~D

Balls & Pillars, Proposals & Sex

6 May

image

Tongue and cheek, (and totally appropriate), our set pieces for “Earnest” will be made up primarily of ball-shaped topiary and pillars.

…Throw in a tea cart, a chaise lounge, and wicker-seated throne; a small table sprinkled here and there, Moroccan-themed bit of drapery, and a set of French doors: you have the set in it’s basic entirety.  In the round, sparsely populated with purpose, the design is made to allow plenty of space, as well as just enough obstacles to aide in the cat-and-mouse games.

We blocked the first part of Gwen’s proposal and Jack’s interrogation tonight.

A little Q & A, a little “dish,” a little read-thru, a little exercise: a delicious game-play of physical enticements without use of script or words…only noises, touch, breath…on command from Mdm. Director…in a constant change-up of who is chasing whom, and repelling at an instant, stealing a touch here, retreating there, moving back and forth across the entire space, at various speeds, weaving through the furniture and back again, using every silent seduction element at our disposal, so that even apart, the electric current continues, stretching…pulling, at torturous levels, to snap us back again, time after time, in the closest, closest of “almostness.”

How titillating and aroused can you get up to the point of breaking?  Tickle the delicate little well-trained animal of character to stand upon the absolute brink of losing all control.

…Then: don’t let it.

…Just play with it.

…Like a tease.

…And giggle. 

A lot.

In between.

Add back in the text…

…Then forget where we are with the lines.

…Or what happens next.

So goes the courting of Gwen and Jack.

The exercise was invaluable.  The resulting blocking: a heated tango.

It was delicious.

…Will take some time to get the exact beats of one another’s moves. Of course still being on book does nothing to help.  But the knowledge that our rhythm will only strengthen, our snap-tos, and side-glances, finger-skims, nose-touches, lip-bitings, breath-catchings, nape-necking, scent-breathing, hair-twirling will at one point become so smoothly related to one another, that the tango without the music will be inherent.  Which completely explores the whirlwind courtship, rife with sexual desire, attempted by two people who never get an actual moment alone together, until now.

…And will set up the very distinct difference between their more grown-up romance, versus the childishly innocent fairy-tale Algy n’ Cecily one,

God, how I love a good Director, who knows what they want, and knows how to get it out of you.

…Even on the first, damn, day.

HUZZAH!!!

…Off to study lines now. 

As ever, it has been made clear to me: One must acknowledge the vital importance of getting the hell off book as soon a possible. So off I go to it. In earnest.

~D

Pick-Ups

18 Apr

image

Oie. I need a freakin’ break.

…No lunch, no time away from the computer screen, and tiny-tiny numbered reports.

So this is me: breathing for a bit. 

Back in the saddle for shows in our second weekend, starting tonight.  No pick-ups, and early Thursday performances, so we’re on our own to run lines…prob’ly while driving, or setting our hair…to make sure we remember what the hell we’re doing. 

Early Thursday shows make “sense,” but I still hate early call. 

…Because of it, I’m floored for time, and have not only none in excess, but less than average for eating, travel and prep to begin with…thus zero time at all to run scenes with people to iron out all the brain burps that being dark for three days can do.  And this ain’t exactly an easy show to just jump into, cold.

Living on stage the whole time means there isn’t a single moment to run and check your script to remind you of things that one sometimes needs their scripts to remind them of…like the exact word right there that you can’t seem to remember, only know begins with an “M”…or what follows the first night scene…or which props need to disappear at which time, in which blue-out, as we quick-change.

…Significant details.

Think I’ll just have cereal for dinner tonight so I won’t take up all that time cooking things. Like an egg. Which gives me an extra 90 seconds to actually review the script, live.  Or maybe I’ll skip the shaving my legs part (yay for dancer tights, and Europeans!) and just do the necessities…that’ll buy an easy 3 minutes right there…

…It’s all about time management, you see.  The infinitesimal kind.   

Where you have to multitask eating and burping simultaneously…just so you won’t waste all that optional line reciting time on breathing.

~D

Ongoing Jewish MILFism

3 Mar

image

Great day! 

…Finished my book in PJ’s, made a breakfast salad, jumped in shower by 10:30, and went for 5 mile walk on Owen’s Beach at Pt. Defiance.  The weather is ridiculously amazing today, and it felt so good to get out of a building and breathe fresh sea air!!

…Then back for a lunch of a veggie burrito, and some rest time with the BBC on stream. 

…And then: Lines.

Lines, lines, lines.

Am off book for Act I now, but still need the script for blocking purposes. 

Never having run the scenes after blocking, (but before moving onto the next one, as is the fashion)…in order to get it finished within the crammed scheduled time…I have zero sense memory to go off of. The movements are frequently not based around our own lines but other people’s…so, recalling every shift and counter (even though they are all written down) is going to take a bit longer. 

…Sorta like a less manic version of the time I did “Noises Off”, and had to get 300% off book for lines, so I could spend all my time reading my intricate blocking, and prop usage like a book, at speed.

Tonight, we begin actual scene work, with two of them slotted…which still seems a large bite to take for 2.5 hours in review, with first crack at the blocking. But then I never thought we’d seriously block over 30 pages per day, either.  So who the hell knows what will happen.

…We have 8 more rehearsals before our first Act run…which is 20 hours of rehearsal.  2.5 hours after that, we run Act 2…and our first full run is 12.5 hours after that.  This is totally doable. I just tend to panic with large chunks being eaten, right off the back.  You tend to choke  a bit when that happens.  But, this is a new process, a new Director, a new house.  As a campaigner in a new theatre of War, I just gotta relax, keep my kit in order and up to date, and trust in the Captain. 

So I will.

…Meanwhile, am embracing my inner Jew, and lines, while sashaying around the house like a harlot.  It’s been a while since I’ve been called on for this kinda part. The one where you are overwhelmingly self-secure in the fact that matron 42 is the new sexually ripe 20. 

…The gams and flirt gets rusty, when you’ve let the body default into frowsy old maid for as long as I have. Time to bust out the “high maintenance,” pop on those heels, and dust off some man-eating MILF.

…Albeit, a slightly ridiculously over-shooting one.

Oh, I can do that.  

…I can do that hard.

I have a fur coat, bitches.

(snap.)

…Mmmm hmmm…

(enter cat purr, sly grin, and overtly obvious wink: here.)

~D

%d bloggers like this: