Tag Archives: notes

Back To The Book

7 Apr


Neat thing about theatre, #586:

…It’s a living, breathing being of process.

Unlike film, there is never a day where the Director yells, “Cut! Print it!”, and that scene is set in stone for all of time.  Sure, you get the occasional “Post” work, but the concept and action and tone of the piece has already been set.  It’s in the can. 

…The only time that happens in the theatre is at bows on closing night.

…It’s one of the frustrating and delightful wonders that you can go 25 performances before you finally get that damn joke dead on and nail it, or find another link with something someone says about your character in Act One. 

Unless you totally close yourself off from being open and playing and connecting with the other actors and audience, you will find a million subtle differences from Opening night to Closing…in simple deliveries with a breath intake here instead of there, of covert covers for skipped lines, and new stresses on words which changes so many meanings, to silent expressions, differently infused energy, someone’s bad day which hasn’t fully been left off stage…to the average cold.  We take all these influences and run with them, which depending on what is thrown in, is what makes the “stone soup” of that specific performance, which will always be different from tomorrows and yesterdays…because live theatre is like that.

…But aside from this technically obvious difference from our film friends, we also get a full rehearsal process not always granted to the camera kids. 

Different Directors rally the cast and run the process as they desire…there is no “set” way, ‘long as the through-line point is to discover the characters as the playwright intended them to come to life, to be true to the text, and mine it for hints and foresight into themes, plot, intents, reasoning, and supporting the piece as a whole.  The Director’s job, is essentially to point towards the destination of intent, and guide you in your work to get to it by rehearsal’s end.  Not because that means, “it’s over,” but rather, “here’s where we congregate in the piece’s space.”  A Director has to be able to not only enlighten and inspire, but goal-keep and referee…encouraging you to take initiative, explore the possibilities and work at unpeeling the onion-like layers of character to be discovered,  while also kicking the ball back in bounds when things go all to hell, and making sure we play fair.  

…Which is where an “out of town” Opening comes in.

The big boys…like Broadway and some of the seminal Regionals do this.  In film terms, it’s the same as a “sneak preview.”  It’s means a soft, limited opening in a less prestigious town, or venue, across several weeks or months. A limited number of seats are sold, used as a tester audience to see where the laughs are, what scenes are too slow, which need a reworking or edit, and when all else fails, when it’s time to start looking at re-writes and more work-shopping.

…For the smaller houses around the country, we usually get one day to do this, which is the day directly before Opening (good, bad or otherwise.)  As you can imagine, this allows very limited alterations to the piece before it’s out there for the general public (and critics)…unless you want to risk freaking out your actors forcing them back into their heads less than 24 hours before there are paying butts in the seats…or a radical intervention is deemed necessary.

…Sometimes, however, this natural stream of events can change in drastic ways as early as Tech, the week leading into Opening. This is when all designers and Artistic Directors and general Top Brass, will be seeing the piece for the first time as a cohesive unit, and this frequently leads to what we call, “clusterfucks”…or “Hell Week.” It is so termed because everything seems to be thrown at you: last minute changes are swapped here and there without ceremony, props come and go and come again, costumes flip and flop are added to and taken away, last minute light adjustments mean blocking changes, re-spiking because of new set pieces, all while you’re breaking in the wobble in your new heels (last worn by a bow-legged cowboy?), rework hair and makeup, adjust to new props arriving nightly…remember lines, and the newest version of blocking…while being fucking hilarious, or tragically horrifying, as the case may require…while pages of changes to all of it, are passed onto you nightly.

…And sometimes those adjustments, three days before Opening, require such a significant hoist of alteration, that you have to go back to the script, take out a pencil, and relaunch into a slam-study session, like a last second finals exam.

It’s good. It’s tight, but the time is there. This isn’t Preview. The answers you are looking for will be there…and the new direction you’ve been pointed is usually not a panicked random adjustment…but often introducing a linchpin that will lock and load that final element that has been missing. If you’re “game,” this can be a final layer-building key, gaining access to that illusive something you’ve not been able to grasp up to this point.

…It can also, because of it’s drastic change in nature, scare the flipping hell outta you.

…But if you think of it like the roller coaster climbing the last clicks to the top before it just lets go out from under you, it helps. The more clicks, the higher you go, the further the free-fall, but the more awesome the overall ride…

…Provided you don’t piss your pants or barf all over the place…

Fortunately, I’m a whiskey-gut from way back. So, “bring on the work, bitches…am totally good for it.”


Super Sneak Previews

5 Jun


Tonight: a super secret, undercover, special preview audience.

…Like our version of an out-of-town-Preview…a week before costumes, tech and set.

Mdm. Director decided it would behoove us all to have premature laughter in order to gage how to deal with the absolutely every-other-line zinger we will be faced with in respect to the audience, and the timing it alters in the comedy.

…So each of us, one week out (to the day) of our actual Preview, were given leave to ask ONE person to tonight’s first off-book run.  The rules were that they would not judge it as the final product, and would promise to come back and see it when we had one.

So tonight we had new butts in the seats.

…For most, they were people who knew what was coming from running lines with us anyway, but the laughter and sense of urgency certainly helped, and we collectively grew two-fold tonight.

Detailed notes, are email-pending.

I invited Ma to come.  She has always been a particular fan of Oscar, and it’s been eeons since she’s sat in on rehearsals.  Thought it might be fun, and her face hurt from too much laughing and smiling, after…so that is a very good sign.

…She’s very particular about Oscar.

We chatted on “funnies” over a couple Long Islands, post-rehearsal, and I am now home in time to commit my last conscious thoughts to blog, before wafting away to dreamland.

A good night.

Learned alot from the responses that were fed mid-run.

…And a lot from working the thru-line from one act to the next.

I think I’ve found my Gwendolen. 

Now: to polish.


Epic Lines

31 May


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?


I. Am.


The Episode The BFF Wrote

25 Aug


The BFF decided to commandeer m’blog yesterday while visiting me at work. Because she brought me coffee, I let her. Then, because it sounded glamourous, I contracted her to be my Foreign Correspondent Guest Blogger when she to moves to L.A. next month. Because L.A. is foreign to everywhere that isn’t L.A. And because I can. Following is her first installment. I took the liberty of including Editor notes for her. She took the liberty of completely ignoring them. I claim Executive privileges by including them anyway:

Listen up bitches, It is I. The BFF, and I will be your author this morning for a very special installment of MY BFF’s* blog. (*Editor’s note: The double BFFing might get confusing. Maybe you should just call me The Diva. The BFF note: Maybe you should shut up and let me write this blog.)

We sit, bathed in dirty white fluorescent light.* (*Editor’s note: Nice detail. Very Noir. The BFF note: Yes. I know. That was the point.)

She, pouring over insanely large paychecks she will later be forced to hand over to assholes who will later return to complain that they were not quite insanely large enough. Or they will send their bitch wives to do it.* (*Editor’s note: I love you. The BFF: It’s mutual. Now stop interrupting me.)

Welcome to Friday morning! $17,557.00 today and counting.

I, having taken improper advantage of a car accident I was in yesterday to beg out of work today, sit across from her, hijacking her blog and making faces at her when she’s not looking.* (*Editor’s note: Bitch. The BFF note: I’m making another face at you right now. And a gesture to go with it. Guess which finger I’m using.)

Side note: The Diva’s* first urination of the day occurred at 11:01. (*Editor’s note: See, I told you it would work better. The BFF note: I will leave right now and take the coffee with me.) She has asked me to keep track of this. We have a special bond.

Also, she has asked that when I quote her directly, I do it so that she will seem about 20 pounds lighter and about 2 inches taller.* (*Editor’s note: Thank you. The BFF: Alright then.) Use your imaginations people.

To continue, It should be known that she and I know how to have fun.* (*Editor’s note: This is scientific fact. We did about forty studies to make sure. The BFF note: At least.) I mean, we do it right. Case in point-

She: “I’m gonna have one of those bread pizza things, and it’s gonna be awesome.”* (*Editor’s note: Most people won’t understand how this is relevant to the above statement about “having fun.” Explain in more detail maybe? The BFF note: If I have to explain how food is “awesome” to these people, they are reading the wrong fucking blog.)

We go on adventures, we play hooky, and we travel. We picnic, we movie watch, we antique.* (Editor’s note: Thank you. The BFF note: Yeah. Whatever.) We are young, and poor, and tied to jobs that require sitting at a desk all day, and we absolutely refuse to let any of those things get us down. Hence days like today. Should I be at work? Yes. Is lying wrong? Yes.

Me: (When reviewing my life choices) “I am a liar.”

She: “But only a little bit, and it’s not like you’re going all Bernie Maddoff.”

Me: “Yeah, but you can’t embezzle from a non-profit that helps the homeless…”

She: “Well you can….”

Us: “That’s the line!” –We say together in unison.* (*Editor’s note: It’s good to have one. The BFF: Yes. Editor’s note: Also, you really were in a car accident, and I’m not sure taking time off is the same as embezzling. The BFF: We’ll go with your logic. This time.)

She and I, we understand each other. I respect that all the bean cans in her cabinet must be organized with labels facing out,* (*Editor’s note: I appreciate that. The BFF: I’m here for you.) and she puts up with my loud voice, relentless quests for change, and incessant Louis Armstrong impressions.* (*Editor’s note: Do the Louis Armstrong turkey one! Do it! Do it! Ha! The BFF note: You’re welcome.) So it works.

“I’m gonna be super extravagant and go pee again,” she says. We live such privileged lives.* (* Editor’s note: Rock Stars only wish they were us right now. The BFF: Yep.)

And on a day like today, when work is too pointless,* (*Editor’s note: Right?! The BFF note: Pffftttt) and the sun is too bright and sunshiny,* (*Editor’s note: Still can’t find my fucking sunglasses. The BFF: I keep telling you – buy new ones!!) and the clock is ticking towards a time when the two of us will be much farther apart than a text message and a drunken stumble home, it is important to share meaningful friend time.* (*Editor’s note: I miss you already, like I would my big toe. The BFF: Thanks? Editor’s note: You know, like — not having you around throws me all outta balance and stuff. The BFF note: Oh. Can I maybe be a different anatomy piece? Cuz you hate your toes, and — Editor’s note: — It was a metaphor! The BFF note: Actually it was a “simile” but, anyway…)

“Don’t you wish your last name was Tamara Frisbee?” she says between sips of coffee.

“Yes, yes I do.” *


(*Editor’s note: You forgot to note that this was the part where I was working on the Open Order report, calling out funny customer names. People are gonna read that and be all, “where the hell did that come from?” The BFF note: Really? Cuz that would be so different from all the rest of your blogs, how? Editor’s note: Wow. When are you moving again? Can I buy you a one way ticket “now,” or do we have to wait…? The BFF note: You’ll miss me when I’m not around to fight with anymore. Editor’s note: I know. So shut up about it.)

(* Editor’s note: Wait. Was that the end? The end of the whole blog? The BFF note: I like to leave things in suspense. So my answer to that would be —)


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