Tag Archives: props

All The Things

26 Feb

image

This just in: Kids like food fights. 

…The Student matinee this week (our 10th show in 11 days so far), was full of Elementary fidgeters,  College ASL reps, and Teachers…which showed obvious divide in content appreciation until it came to the giant breakfast battle, wherein everyone became immediately 5 years old and hypnotized by the fact that two people were slopping around with this much goop on total purpose. 

…How much we consume and throw around on stage is pretty staggering, frankly, (as provided by our tireless prop-mistress, and cleaned up by our beautiful tech team), and contains as follows:

50 biscuits, 5 dozen scrambled eggs, 5 packs of mashed potatoes, several pans of fried potatoes, 75 pieces of bacon, one bone-in ham, 30 corn muffins, 2 cakes – one coffee crumb,  one white chocolate ganache-drizzled, 5 bags of green beans, 4  glasses of milk, many pitchers of water, and several  fistfuls of candy.  PER WEEK.

…I dunno where the hell that skinny  kid puts it all, or what keeps her from puking all over everything when I continually haul her up by her guts and fling her around…but I know I’m certainly taking in the bare minimum as necessitated per the scenes. Just keeping water down with that much action in a corset is pushing it at times, but the point I suppose is that the bulk of it never makes it in a mouth at all… rather becoming graffiti about the stage, smashed into costumes, crumbed on blankets, plastered on floors and table tops, sludged on chairs, my sunglasses, our hair, and (with amazingly few instances) audience members.

As to the amount of damage we do, relocating intermission became a necessity…cutting the show in such a way as to show a fairly set divide between the more humorous and youth-filled first half and the exhausted, dogged-and-determined second.  As our run stands, the nightmares which have haunted Annie in spurts begin to slam at her directly at the top of act two, launching her further into self-doubt and a sense of impending failure if not for solving a total lack of discipline from her pupil (and most importantly her constantly-placating family.)  A cut I originally disliked, (but obviously understood the reasoning for), I have now with performance, begun to embrace. 

…What this means is a shift from prominent physical battle in act one, to mental battle in act two…though both are present throughout the show in fits and starts. Act two has become where the bulk of the “acting” comes in…where the weariness and battle of inner demons comes to the front over fists of food and face slaps, and it is also the only instance in the entire show where we are able to tackle the words of the piece without being slammed with the constant technical work going on all around us.  One scene… with just myself and the Kellers in a room with no walls, no furniture, not a single prop to be seen.  Just three people: working organically off one another, passing the ball back and forth as we fight each in our own way, for the soul of this small person. 

…It has become my favorite part of the performance.  Not for the gravitas and tears shed…but for the lock-and-load workmanship with two fine actors who know their shit, and don’t ever let go of their particular rein and purpose and intent no matter which way they get pulled  by the other two in the scene. 

…None of which should show disservice to my Helen.  You couldn’t if you tried.  She’s a regular ball-buster of performing determination. 

…But after chasing her about non-stop for over an hour, it is nice to selfishly stand on my own two feet – upright off of the floor—face two seasoned pros, and play a game of emotional poker to see who will win THIS night.

The emotional and physical demands are great, and the stakes are high for all of us in this show, but there is something to be said for the simple joy of speaking well-written words on a stage with nothing else but the story and your scene partners to guide you and make you become better at what you do, than when you first started the night.  No other “special effects” are required.

Thanks, guys.

~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

It Worked! Now What Did I Do?

11 Jun

image

Pin pointed some good moments tonight. 

We all did.

…Working our asses off, never looked so esthetically pleasing.

…Nor as funny on apparent total accident.

(It is no accident, these people are funny.  And so is the show.)

Tonight, trying some new wardrobe changes in act two had me doing my hair no less than three times for the evening.  My scalp was a bobby pin nightmare by the end, but it was totally worth it, and I’ve now been locked-and-loaded in all my visual incarnations.

Gwendolen is a very specific creature of very specific style and accessory.

…Which makes owning and flitting about in it, (as if one did so all the time), a total necessity.  And I’m riding that wave tighter every night.

As is usually the case, the rest of the “her” I was looking for, showed up with the costumes, hair, and intimate props.  These are always my final touchtones to the characters I play, which means I am fussy about them, and endlessly futz with them, because they must ultimately become so virtually a part of me, that there is absolutely no question as to the form and function of each and why they are a part of the tool kit the character uses.

…Meanwhile finding “the final look” is often a work in progress.  Fine tuning, rearranging, and adding small details are what seperate the men from the boys in this field…each step of which, influences the actor and their work.  And because this is the late Victorian era, there is a hell of a lot of “detail” to be tuned into.

Much like Oscar’s verbiage, it is not a matter-of-less is more, or more-is-more, but rather: ostintatious-is-the-ordinary.

More of everything, including fringe, lace, jewelry, prints, pillows, tea, and accessories, Art Directed in such a way as to appear completely normal in form.

…And once that is added, the actors adjust, work, and incorporate accordingly.

Due to the total difference in hats and new alterations in costume tonight (for instance), this means I’ll be doing two completely different coifs each performance. 

Because Oscar is a wise man…and no doubt realized what it takes for a woman of the period to change and prep and do such things…I have around 30 minutes (including an intermission) in order to achieve it all.

Plenty of time.

…If still a monster task.

…And the result is (even if I do say so myself) supremely smart, therefor totally worth it.

It is all totally worth it.

…When you hit those moments, the sweet spots, where everything just seems to fall into place, and everything becomes just a little more supremely delicious in texture, and line, and look, and delivery; when you are truly playing with another person on stage, with all the rules assembled, but the open possiblity of surprise sizzling in the air between you: that is what it’s all about.

Finding that with people you didn’t even know three months ago, still blows my mind with wonder.

And the friendships that come with that requirement of total unflinching trust, is what builds the real joy in what we do.

At least it does for me.

Applause ain’t even half of it.

~D

Dear Prop Diary…

3 Jun

image

I’ve volunteered to fill my prop diary with “sensational entries”…so tonight will be just a blip of a blog.

…Takes me back to filling a giant spiral notebook and text book with lecture notes, highlights, margin comments and pull-quotes for “Oleanna,” several years ago.  The stage was extremely intimate, so there was no question that the notes had to be there, and a lot of them.  It also sincerely helps as an actor for every piece of legitimacy that you can be given to use to tell the story.  Tiny details, that only maybe the actors can even see, in costume, props and set pieces are a giant help in helping one to further the facade of make believe.

…And when it is such a personal prop, sometimes it helps for you yourself to invest in it.

Of COURSE I want to play and build Gwendolen’s diary. Why the hell WOULDN’T I?

…Even though it is merely her small “travel” variety.  I think of it as her “Greatest Hits” record: a transcription of all the really juicy bits from her larger, more in-depth one at home.  She’s been around a bit, and  per Algy, is frequently flirted with and proposed to, so there is certainly a legit amount of steam in those pages. 

I don’t doubt.

…Not a bit.

…Meanwhile , at rehearsal tonight: Run of nearly all first act, with notes and some set-change choreography. Small bits of delectable “yum” worked out in the lobby with dear Earnest, ‘tween scenes. At least we thought they were.  Given a couple more passes at the timing, we’ll be launching them at the room in general on our first main full run in the theatre on Wednesday.

…See how it goes.

Whether they are “keepers” or not, the ideas and the work and the finessing is excellent exercise for the characters, so totally worth it no matter what.

…But based on our own giggles, I’m betting we found some “keepers.”

Right!

Off now to create new faux worlds of delight.

…Of course, I could just fill the book with random sentences or lines…but what would be the fun it that?

I shall consider it more backstory-delight, and dive in with creativity and a mug of tea and see where it takes me.

~D

Twits & Set Pieces

21 Mar

image

I’ve done it now.  Have joined Twitter. 

…But never under any circumstances in order to post or update it. 

I just want to stalk famous people. 

So in answer to your question: no, I won’t be giving out my handle.  It doesn’t matter anyway. Because, as of right now, I can’t understand a cocking word that is written on the damn thing.

…I’d be totally useless to you at this point.

It’s like html coding for fucks sake.

…At first I just thought it was Stephen Fry being Stephen Fry with this 3000% more intelligence than me, posting witticisms that were just too far over my head.

…But then, I can’t understand but about half of Jennifer Saunders’ tweets either.  And not that she is exactly of the average brainage herself, but I figured at least her humor stylings were of the norm-masses and I’d be in on it.

…Which I am.  But only the parts not involving 30 numbers and random punctuation marks.

…And then there are re-tweets.  And random links.  And this whole abbreviation language I don’t understand.

Clearly, I’ll be googling a lot this afternoon, just to figure all this shit out.

…See!  This is why I didn’t want to join up in the first place!  I have enough jobs to do as it is!!

…Meanwhile:  There have been crazy wind and hail storms slamming the shit out of my office by day, and Harriet on the freeway by night.  It’s frickin’ freezing everywhere I go…so all heaters in the all the environments that I have control over have been blaring non-stop for a little over 48 hours.  I don’t even want to think about my electric bill next month. 

…So I won’t.

Done with work-and-runs at the theatre until Sunday, as the theatre has a music gig taking over.  Which should be interesting on our current stage set.  What do you suppose the theme for that concert would be? I dunno.

…But speaking of the set: It’s coming along quickly.  New pieces in every day, first two layers of paint up, primed and ready for final coat and distressing.  They keep adding more and more furniture pieces, filling in absolutely every crack and cranny. By next rehearsal, they will be finished with the paint and start adding in the dressings for details…loading up the cupboards, bringing in the bed linens, all the little tchotchkes, framed photos, sewing stuffs, cooking utensils, books, bathroom items,work papers and files, and our personal props. We’ll be shoved in like sardines by the end…exactly as it should be.

Last night was a focus on stage combat for all falls, fights, and quick moves…taking up a surprising amount of time, as you don’t exactly think of this show as running heavy in those details, but it actually is. Especially when you consider how every square inch is filled with people or furniture, to knock into, stairs and platforms to fall off of, doors to slam your hands in, and a perpetual graveyard of screws and nails hiding just out of sight to knick your fingers, or barefoot feet, no matter how careful they are in sweeping before call.

…For now, we wait until Sunday. Press photos, costume fittings…meaning I’ve gotta figure out m’hair and face soonish. Need to dye it tonight prob’ly…bust out the hot curlers and some German period photos and have at it. Really liked Corinna Harfouch’s very German “doo” as Magda Goebbels in “Downfall,” (which I was streaming the other day.) Very elegant, and European versus the more youthful Americanized victory-curled look we had over here.
image
image
…Also, because it requires a “rat,” it will help to hold the style in place through sleeping scenes and quick costumes changes without falling all limp to hell. Then, by act two, it’ll be let more loose and less “kept.” Mrs. VD is very specific about her style, until the support products for achieving it are no longer made available to her. This will also visually soften her up a bit, as she emotionally begins to legitimately break down.

…It’s like: I have a cunning plan or something.

😉

~D

%d bloggers like this: