Tag Archives: sets

First Day On Set

27 Aug

Today we meet our set. Always an exciting time, but I’ve been freaking out about it for days.

…Because not only is it angles and staircases and platforms and sofas and multiple tables…kitchen and laundry appliances…with things like live flame and giant death fights, and practical light sources, which eventually will go down to 2% blues and black…

…I’m doing it all blind. Because my character is.

…So, take you out of the rehearsal room, where touch as marker, how many steps, at what angle, and what texture and size has been accruing in your mind across nearly two months, on a single surface…and put in totally different measure in depth and width, with added levels and stairs, ever revolving new props as they are subbed in from rehearsal to show versions…and keep in mind, you cannot visually mark a damn thing to help you, and know you have nine days on this set to pull it all off by Preview.

Soft-focus is the landed perspective I’m working in. (Like if you spaced out and tried to focus closer while doing it…a kind of duplicate out-of-focusing.) It removes all sharpness to your visuals, and heavily handicaps your peripheral. On top of which you don’t look toward the action or person…your ears are the primary focus, so they can pick up echoes, bounce-back off surfaces that can relate information like a bat uses sonar…explaining room layout, depth, where people are standing, how close another object is, the configuration of a hallways width, a doorway versus as wall, and general movement…etc. 

…Doing all this means that the usual safety standards for actors on set, in blackout, or partial light, aren’t going to help me. Glowtape on the lip of the stairs means fuck-all. Spike tape is meaningless, unless it is in an area I can physically feel with my fingertips. If I place a prop in the scene and it falls, I have to take the time to search it out on hands and knees and restore it, even if mid-fight, mid task of something else, and not depend on someone nearest to cover, or there is no way the character would know where it is for later. It means bruises I’ve already accrued will magnify greatly, as I have to relearn every new angle and movement pattern, forwards and backwards, all over again. The configuration of her movement, in subtly using the furniture in her home to get her from “A” to “B” to “C,” now changes in angle and needs to be relearned and adjusted. It used to take five steps in the rehearsal room to get from here to there, and eight to that place, but now will it take seven, eight, and ten? How do I redistribute my line delivery time to cover that, or do we need to start two lines earlier because now I have an entire staircase to climb?

…How can I be safe? And when they add stage lights to my already halo-like, duplicate-vision, what the hell is that gonna do to impare me even further?

The role has always been on the bucket list…and it’s great work because of how many challenges it throws at you. But this is the moment I have always been most scared of. There is very little anyone can do to help me, and I have a very short learning curve to get a whole hell of a lot dialed in. And it all completely affects the pacing, tension, and presentation of the entire show if I can’t figure it out. 

…So: no pressure or anything.

It’s 10am. I already need a drink.

~D

All The Things

26 Feb

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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

Twits & Set Pieces

21 Mar

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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.
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…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

The Crying Game

26 Sep

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So…there’s gonna be an issue with keeping a straight face in this show. 

…I’m pretty hard to break when I’m “in” it, but holy hell am I being set up to fail in this one. 

…Scenes where I either walk in all reprimanding because of loud party-going of frat-like proportons…or try to play jokes on an idiot who just DOES NOT understand what in the hell I’m doing….or have to stand straight-faced, while the audience (I promise you) will be peeing their pants and braying like donkeys over the TOTAL loss of dignity of the most love-to-be-hated character…are killing me at the moment.

I am so screwed.

…Also, we are all of two scenes into my own personal blocking and I’ve already been poked, pinched, sniffed, picked up, ass-grabbed, and motor-boated.

Comedy. Its a good thing.

…Except when you can’t react to it.

Then its “evil.”

Like now, for instance.

…Well, actually, “now” is the time that it doesn’t count. I can laugh NOW as much as I like. In hopes to get it all out before its time for other people to laugh at it. Which it good. Cuz last night I was ripping it so hard, I was ugly-faced-crying in the corner, up stage left, waiting for an entrance I seriously could NOT FUCKING MAKE, because I was afraid if I stood up from the crouched laughing position, I would just pee all over myself.

…Which, I think, (though validating to the other actors on stage), would not really be appropriate. ‘Specially as it isn’t “technically” our stage yet…it’s still borrowed until the current show closes. Explaining those kinda stains on the Sherlock set, might add a whole other layer of “mystery” than they are really intending.

…But so goes “theatre.”

Sometimes…its just hilarity. And unexplainable pee stains.

~D

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