Tag Archives: monologues

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

Liberal Seasoning

23 Jul

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Walk n’ monologue work with Cecily tonight. 

…She: prepping for next audition, brought the script to review, plucking out the key focus monologue…both of us character Q & A-ing before beginning the attack.

I love monologues.

…I love that inner sanctum of information they dispel, the challenge of beats and variety of layers that can be added…like seasoning a good piece of meat. To break down the thought process, negotiate the change of emotions, the gestures indicating words you have to look to find, the maybe stammer or lingering on a juicy adjective…the seduction and savoring…the confusion and frustration…the arriving at metaphors as if such a suggestion has just this moment occurred to you, opening an entirely new perspective…in this instant: now. Immediate. With no filters. 

A good monologue is a showpiece of thought process, motivation,  desire, fear, eagerness, earnestness, hope, despair, and every other form of emotion coinciding with humanity.  When breaths are taken, pauses are earned, and words are searched for: there the homework begins.

…To deliver a “speech” as NOT a rehearsed word-for-word recitation, but as a word-to-word invented inspiration, takes time…takes hours scouring the script for alternate clues…takes breaking down the text into main ideas and beats…word stresses, setting of seamless shifts in emotion and intent, playing with the energy and tempo, manipulating the affections and emotions…

A good monologue is a story unto itself…an intimately shared experience of what it is to be in the mind and/or circumstance of a character. 

A good monologue is a living, breathing entity, ripe for the picking, ready to explore, and infuse with interpretation. 

…It’s the first step on the road to our final destination as an audition piece…our calling card we leave at the door and in the mind, slating who we are as performers and artists. 

…It’s the well-rehearsed solo in the orchestral piece of a show’s actual culminated performance.

…And with all that, it has the power-potential to make or break you…in two minutes or less.

Whoever says theatre isn’t a brutal sport, has clearly never played. It’s like our own little Hunger Games, out here…amidst a giant casting cornucopia.

…May the odds be ever in your favor.

~D

 

Two Minutes, & A Title Card

30 Jan

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So I’ve an audition next Monday, the day after closing…and its the first time I’ve had to do the full process with a monologue et al, in about forever.

(Working with the same people over and over again, does have more than just one perk, you know.)

…Anyway, I’m having to start from absolute scratch on this, as my go-to dramatic piece has now been disqualified for use, by the happy circumstance that I am currently performing it on a stage at the moment.  And once you’ve done a role, it is faux pas to ever air it in an audition setting again.

Back when I started working at my first Union House and home theatre, I began primarily in Tech. The thing was: I loved theatre…LOVED it…and though I always knew I wanted to be an Actor…I didn’t want to be one of those hopeless ones who couldn’t so much as change a light bulb. I had this crazy idea that to train in all aspects of it, was to pay honor to it…to gain respect and understanding of all the jobs and respect and understanding from my peers. But what I DIDN’T know (at the time) was how much about my end-game craft, I would be learning along the way.

…I have very distinct memories, like a reel of home movies, with moments all strung together on one loooooong piece of celluloid, that I still play in my brain, to this day, which are the lessons I learned while being granted a behind-the-scenes peek at the world of what it is to be an actor.

For instance…when else would a 14 year-old be granted access to watch professional actors from all over the country (and sometimes world), undertake their process from first table read to final performance? How many hours of rehearsal, to be on book with just you, the SM, the Director and Actors as they work out bit-by-bit what this moment and meaning is really all about…and the fact that it is important to justify and work your actions and reactions and talk about “feelings” and fearlessly throw your emotions out there for just everyone to see?

…By 16, I was joining them on stage…only in bit parts and cross-overs, as I was still very much Teching my way through the jungle…but with notice in my level of dedication…and so was given even more responsibilities…with smaller casts…and more dramatic shows.

It was then, I was contracted to work with the biggest theatrical idol I’d ever had…a woman I’d seen work there years before, who as a child, I’d remembered as the person I wanted most to be when I grew up.

She was (and is) a devastating performer, whose work was so palpable it would make your hair stand on-end. A woman whose command of her vocal instrument could manipulate any characterization, her body movements meeting it with precise measure. A woman who would end a monologue to a pin drop, and a play in such silence…you’d forget to breathe, or clap. She was the kind of performer who would disappear five seconds after touching the stage, and not return back again until curtain call…so real was she in this other being that she was now living in front of you. And all I wanted my whole life (up to that point and for the rest of it beyond now) was to be like her. To hold THAT kind of power on a stage, to practice the art of Acting at THAT level.

…And I was going to be her crew now. It was almost too much goodness to be true.

It was a one-woman show, written expressly for her, and I was to work all of backstage…from cues, calls, light patches and any other incidentals. And with that, I was also given leave to sit in on evening and weekend rehearsals…(being in classes during her day-calls.) This, though not the norm for my crew station — until further into the rehearsal process — was granted me, I suppose, as by now the powers-that-be knew me, and how serious about all this I was…and what a hugely educational thing it would be.

…So of course I did…

…In the back. In the shadows. So as not to disturb, or accidentally fall in her sight line during expressly difficult moments.

And like with other rehearsals I sat in on, I would listen to the invaluable give and take between the Director and his Actor…their conversations and debates…the working and isolation of each specific moment…the dialing in on the emotions…the endless, endless futzing at this one line interpretation, or that movement there, or the emotional stakes at hand. She would beat herself up mercilessly…aggravated at what she considered a sub-par interpretation or presentation that only looked like perfection to my eyes (and I’d swear, anyone elses.) And she was often difficult because of it…because she WANTED to find it…and NEEDED to realize the moment, and other people’s assurances were not enough…not to fight the precise gauge of truth that she held herself up against to the point of sometime absolute, roaring, frustration.

…I learned a lot about “process” from that show, and even more about how much of an athlete a good Actor must be. You must stretch, and prep, and lift, and lift, and lift, and lift, and run, and jump, and dive, and lift and lift again. Emotions. Body. Mind. That woman did no less work than an Olympian, a Therapist, and a Theorist all rolled into one, in order to give an Opening Night performance, that shut everyone down and up…just before nearly tearing the entire fucking theatre to the ground with ovation-appreciation.

…And I had been given the opportunity to watch it all happen.

…Which (fast forward), graduated and grew with my roles on the stage, as I moved from Tech to one of the Chorus, to Supporting Characters.

By the time I left my home state (and my home theatre as well), I was 20 years old, and aside from Talent Shows and School Productions, had never done anything but Professional Theatre for seven years. I’d Stage Managed, been offered (and turned down) a Union Card, and won the respect of the the people I respected most…in prob’ly the whole damn world.

…And in that time I learned prob’ly a zillion-million little tricks of the trade. Sitting in on auditions from SF, LA and NY…the “trends” that Actors adopt that makes for mind-melting sameness in audition, after audition, after audition…the “shock value” every woman assumes will make them memorable by dropping the F-bomb as frequently as possible, or sobbing endlessly about being raped or having an abortion. The men that will come in and just scream at you, thinking that this somehow shows a visceral-animal rage. Ill chosen pieces based on age, or body type, or sex (believe it or not)…and a whole collection of other incidentals that one never really might think of as important but in the end, turns out to be all but essential.

I may have never attended University for this Acting thing…but I didn’t emerge into the world totally without training. It wasn’t until later…moving here, seeing how big the world was, how lucky a steady paycheck is, how snobby (on accident) I’d become to the other types of theatre, that I was slapped with a few stings and had to learn this whole other lesson about what REALLY makes you a professional and serious artist…then try to marry all these worlds together to figure out how to use what I’d been given and worked for, to work for me.

…And the fun (or not-so…depending on how you see it) thing is that Acting is an evolution-art. It never stays still, you can never “win” it or “conquer” it…even the greatest people who do it…ESPECIALLY the greatest people who do it…are forever learning how to evolve and push themselves into new directions with it…through the only way you can: good, hard, work. And no matter how many years you’ve been at it, this doesn’t change. Not if you want to move forward.

…And I do.

…So here I am: flipping through plays like a maniac…trying to remember all the little unspoken “dos” and “don’ts” I learned about a million years ago…to choose a new companion…a new friend…to join me in study and on a stage for a two-minute audition, while my old one joins me on stage in that one part in Act three for three more performances…before I say goodbye to her forever.

…’Cept in my heart…where she’ll always have a special place.

…Which is the longest way to go about saying: “I need a new monologue…and I’m having a hell of a time finding it. Cuz I know it’s not good enough to be ‘good’ for what I’m going for…it needs to be ‘The One.’ And that ain’t as easy to find as you’d think.”

That’s all.

~D

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