Tag Archives: Waiting for Guffman

I Totally Know That Guy

24 Oct

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A year before Christopher Guest’s, Waiting for Guffman, Kenneth Branagh got a bunch of his peeps together and created, A Midwinter’s Tale.  It is a black and white mockumentary of a group of theatre offcasts, mounting an entire production of “Hamlet,” location: the buttcrack of nowhere…in two week’s time.

…It may sound slightly familiar, yes?

…And It is also fucking ridiculous

Freakishly true in it’s characterizations of theatre people in general, you really can’t watch it without laughing your ass off and saying, “I totally know that guy!  I worked with someone just like that in (fill in the blank.)!!”

…The melt downs are beautiful, and totally realistic in both their timing, inappropriateness and largess.  Everyone becomes a shameless flirt, surrounded by sexual enticements at every corner, merely because someone with a pulse is standing right there. Bitchy comments are flung about at will, name-dropping is a favorite past-time, people become so tunnel visioned in their own characters and selves that nobody listens to what anyone else is saying until people start blowing up at one another.  Stakes are insanely high, specific, important and necessary as if life and death were constantly on the line.  Weird habits and traditions are catered to, fits and passions are excused on account of “artistic temperament,” and it is so full of buried and thrown away one-liners and Improv moments that you could watch it twelve times in a row and still not get all the jokes on account of laughing at the other new ones you just, for the first time, finally heard.

In short: it is perfect.

…And it was my “homework” last night, in study aides.

What I was reminded of, while watching it again, is that this entire process of “theatre” is almost nothing but a “constant” of manic urgencies and self-doubts, hysterics, excitements, depressions, anticipations, exclamations, fashions, foibles, habits, traditions and high-maintenance filled melodrama. Even the “mellow” shows are that way, at some point. What we do is a frustrating business of self-challenge, which is a major contributing part of why we do it to BEGIN with. So my little “shit-fuck-damn!” of yesterday, is mere water under the bridge compared to things like “First Dress,” “Tech Week” and “Opening Night.” In truth, I am actually a perfect example of every fucking character in that movie, and it’s only a matter of time before I hit every one of those points of biographic archetyping (if I haven’t already), and the same goes for every other person in the show.

The truth is: we are ALL “that guy.”

At SOME point.

…Even if only in the privacy of a bathroom freak-out, or tears in the shower, or arguments with ourselves in the car, or frustrations over that one fucking line that just won’t stick. Some will be more obvious with their “process”…with anger diva implosions on stage, or bitchy head-bites, or line blanks, or costume emergencies or any of the other zillion-million things that can and do go all to hell at some point during a run.

…Yesterday I was just mid-archetype, is all. In the: “for fuck sake, figure it out you damn idiot, it ain’t like it’s rocket science!” phase. And because I was forced to look at it square in the face, (via the mirror of a very lucky homework idea), today I’m much more calm and realistic about things.

Currently I’m residing in: “New idea, in a different direction entirely” phase…wherein I decide to stop forcing what doesn’t feel right and isn’t working, and just go with the gut instinct instead. Thanks to varied discussions with cast mates at the pub, after rehearsal.

…It’s a decidedly calmer world to live in, during this phase. I appreciate that. And I realize it will only last so long before some new “hell” begins to dog me in some other way. But that is part of the the FUN of it, for shit’s sake. SO HAVE FUN WITH IT. And get over your damn self!

So, thanks “KB.”

And the cast and crew of cuties I’m currently working with, who totally have my back 🙂

It’s like the OTHER part of the film that holds just as true as the rest, and keeps the “theatre family” (in all its myriads of dysfunction) afloat. We genuinely do respect and enjoy one another’s work and friendship. S’pecially when the going gets tough. There’s no one better to “go to the mattresses” with, in the world, than the people who stand beside you, on a stage.

For reals.

~D

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