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 

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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

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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

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

The Infinity Waiting Game

12 Jun

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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:

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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

S’posed To Be…

26 Feb

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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

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