Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
My girlfriend Andrea was in a musical based on the works of Mark Twain, and it was written by the same composer. When he again hired her to work on this Melville piece, she suggested to him that he talk to me about directing. Once I read the story and she sung me some the music, I was very interested in the gig. It's not an easy, straight-forward story, and it's going to require something other than a neat, traditional way of staging the story to convey it onstage. I started the process with only a few ideas, but as I've read the story more and more, and I attended two rehearsals last weekend, more ideas are starting to collect.
I will be living in NYC for two weeks in January to work on this project; Pella windows gave me the time off I requested. So I'll get a two-week artistic vacation, and I'll have nothing to do but experience the joys of New York, work on the show, audition, and play Xbox. But I also plan to blog either during or after every rehearsal we have, to provide as close to an "in-the-room" feeling as I can on this project. I say that a lot, but I'm going to try to mean it this time. I'll just make it part of my day.
Rehearsals begin again on Jan 3rd, but there is a lot to do before then. We'll have to get a final version of the script, we have to plan out our rehearsals, and we need to think about any technical aspects of the show that we'll need before we start. Also, I still have four days at the window mill, thinking about the show every chance I get.
So stick around and check back often, it should be a good ride. And feel free to post suggestions if you have any....
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We met on a windy and stingingly cold afternoon at the top of a hill, and spent about an hour taking photos of me around a church on the hill. It was really low key, and a lot of fun to work with him. He freely admitted that he hadn't done anything like it before, so we were collaborating on things like locations and backgrounds, posing and lighting. We'd plan some things out, and then adjust our plans as we got different ideas. It was a good time, a good creative and collaborative afternoon.
I've since been able to look at some of the shots, and they look great. Once I really narrow it down to my personal favorites, I will post some of them up on this website for everyone to check out. And comment upon. And such things.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Yesterday's script was an abstract one, reminding me a lot of the Charles Mee play I did a year ago. When I was reading it on my own, it was almost too abstract to really get into. I wasn't sure how fun it was going to be. But that all changed when I walked into the room and saw Bryan, a buddy of mine, sitting at the table. He and I used to do Tony n Tina's Wedding together, and we had been emailing each other earlier this week. So it was the craziest thing. But the hits didn't stop there, because one of the girls they had selected was my other friend Lesley, someone that I don't see as much of as I would like to. The jokes surfaced that Philly is such a small theatre community, that everyone pretty much knows everyone.
When it became clear to them that the other two girls they had recruited were not going to show up, the three of us took it upon ourselves to read all the characters on the script. I was tapped to play the other leading female role, which made for some very unintentionally funny scenes between me and Lesley. But Bryan and I also had our share as I played a photographer from Adventurous Male Magazine who was taking pictures of his character dressed up as an Eskimo.
When we started reading the script out loud, most of us agreed that it was much funnier than we thought it was going to be. And I was having a blast working with my friends. They are the sort of friends who make me excited to work with them. They inspire and motivate me to have fun, to push myself, and to do the best work that I can. Those are the kind of people that I always want to work with, because it means that I do my best work around them. I'm trying to recruit them both into my next film, if they are free.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Now, in any other business, that would translate into the job. But in this business, I am not one of the three men called back. (They are all older, in their late thirties.) It was a very nice ego boost to hear those compliments from the director, even if it doesn't translate into the actual job they were offering tonight. He's a well-known director and playwright who does a lot of work in regional theaters all over, so he's certainly a good person to know.
More often than not, this career has a way of propping you up and pulling the rug from under your feet at the same time. Just as I had a few bad auditions and meetings that didn't go anywhere, I went to this audition literally on a lark, and I walk out feeling good about my career. Now, I didn't get the callback and I didn't get the part, but I got just enough support and encouragement to push me forward.
Monday, December 8, 2008
That last sentence was seriously what was in the email I opened this evening. That's how we theatre people talk when we're on that side of the table.
I'm really bummed out not to be in this show. I was looking forward to a light and easy opportunity to get back into the world of performance, and this is one that I really had a connection with when I first saw the posting. The program will be broadcast live on the internet, so I'll be sure to listen to see what they do with it.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
For those of you who may not know the term, this beat chart is what I will use to write the script. Essentially, it's an outline. But it's an outline that is created with index cards thumbtacked to a cork board, which makes it very easy to change things around. The writer and producers can see how the sequence works in miniature before it moves to the actual page. Sometimes when writing a feature film, each scene would have its own index card. Due to the constraints of both budget and space, however, I had to condense some of the longer sequences onto one card. But as the outline gets more and more precise, the cards will become more and more specific.
Here is another, somewhat closer, view of some of the cards.
I've never done this sort of major outline for a writing project before, but it seemed like this script was going to be a big enough endeavor that it would be a huge help to have this sort of roadmap for the story. It will be especially helpful because I want to play around with the order of events in the script timeline. For my first pass through the outline, the cards are set up to replicate the sequence of events as they occur in the novel. The next task is to look at the cards and put them in order for the radio script, which might be a different dramatic order. I've already started adjusting things, so those are the next steps in this process of adaptation.
The actual audition went very well. Not as well as I wanted, but very well. I had imagined myself doing such a better job, but I wasn't really given the change to read for a whole lot of roles like I had imagined. They had us read the opening narration from the book, encouraging us to use a variety of different character voices so that the director could hear how we could use our voice. I went into the room with some planned characters, and then I allowed my voice to be flexible as I was reading the text, so much so that I was shifting performance with every sentence as I got near the end. But always switches that made sense in the context of the piece, I made sure of that. I tried to balance a natural sense of speaking with a heightened use of the text, and I think I did pretty well. I also made an effort to not merely affect "character voices" or "impressions" as I was reading; I tried to actually give different voices to different characters. I tried to CHANGE my voice for every character instead of merely putting a mask over my voice.
After that first reading, they handed out sides, and they had me read the scene between Young Scrooge and his lady friend Belle during the ghost of Christmas Past sequence. In their adaptation, however, Young Scrooge had all of three lines, three short lines, and I had to do my best to generate a life and a character behind very simple sentences. I also got to do it twice with two different actresses, so I had a chance to try a different interpretation on the second time through. And, I won't lie, I kinda rocked. It's all the BBC Radio Adventures of Sherlock Holmes that I listen to on every long car trip.
I'll know about the audition by this weekend, either way. It was a fun time. I saw a whole bunch of people that I knew, I had a few free cookies, and I got some useful ideas for my own projects. After reading the sides, however, I wasn't as excited about their project as I was going into the audition. I had thought at first that they were doing an original script based on the novel, but since they had us read for a character named "Narrator," I'm guessing that's not the case. The script was more like a recitation of the book using actors as the character voices; that idea is cool, but not as cool to me as a fully dramatized radio play.
Either way, there aren't many modern companies that are doing anything like live radio drama, and I'd love to be a part of this show. You might say that I want to be on the actor side of the microphone before I have to be on the producer side of it. Which is, to say, the other side. The back side. The non-recording side. You get the idea.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
One striking thing about the book is that RLS carefully crafts a story that resists simple interpretations. It is clearly written as an allegory, but RLS was always very cagey to never say what exactly it was an allegory for. Interpretations have varied over the last hundred years as the times have changed, and it was always been co-opted for whatever purpose the writer wanted. The story has reflected the dangers of society, hypocrisy, science, and vanity. But I want my version to have all the complexity that the orginal text has; RLS didn't make the story as simple as a struggle between "good" and "evil," so I don't want my version to be that simple.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I thought of something as I was working on the story beats for this adaptation. As I was talking about the opening scene, trying to decide how the story should start, I realized that I'm good at this. This writing thing that I do. This directing thing that I do. This producing thing that I do. This whole theatre thing that I do. I'm good at it, and I need to find a way to start/keep doing this for my job.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
On Thursday night, I saw the preview performance of the show, just to see how the show responds to an audience. I was saying the lines in my head as I was watching the show, and I'm proud to claim myself off-book for a few scenes. Not to mention, I have a few ideas about how to hide the script in some of the other scenes where I'd have a lot of dialogue and a few long speeches. I'm not sure that I'll be called upon to perform in the play, but I want to be as well-prepared as I can be for my first understudy gig.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I headed over to Rob's for the final hours of work on our short film contest entry. I got there and he was working on some visual effects while Adam was putting all the waivers and permission forms in order. Rob was exhibiting his traditional "stressed-out" posture of hunching over the computer screen while Adam and I went outside to film those last couple of pickup shots for the film, shots that ultimately went unused in the cut for the contest. They had worked on cutting down the film to the proper length during the day, so it was just the matter of finishing the effects and then fixing the sound and dropping in some sound effects. They were working on that, and I was sitting in the corner trying not to hurry them. They both have technical experience on the editing program, and there's only one computer. So it was a little frustrating not to be able to help very much.
Until photocopies were needed! Rob's printer ran out of ink while printing out some of the waivers, so I grabbed the originals and ran out to Office Depot to do some literally last-minute printing. Rushing back with the papers, I found them more or less done with the edit, just fighting with the computer to drop in the last few sound effects. Rob cut the sound and visual effects into our WWII battle sequence in about 10-15 minutes, which even impressed him later when he thought about it. We rushed over to the college where we needed to drop it (I drove like a maniac but broke very few traffic laws.) When we got to the school, Adam dove out of the car and sprinted across campus in order to get in under the wire. We later heard that he did make it in time, and the person at the desk advised him to relax now that he was in time.
After we could all relax, we went out for a few beers and dinner to celebrate the completion of the project. We talked a bit about some other projects coming up, talked about expanding our current idea into a longer project or even into a webseries. Lots of exciting ideas came out on the table, and I certainly hope that the three of us work on something else in the future. Of course, the most exciting thing on my table right now is the new script for "Reggie Donovan's Best Day Ever." It's due Friday, so I better get started. Better quit this job at the window place....
Monday, November 3, 2008
We had a little bit of trouble finding our location which led to a little time crunch while we were there, but overall it was a smooth day. The WWII re-enactors were really good about their part, setting up the machine gun and moving the Jeep whenever we needed them to. They had the enthusiasm and the energy to keep running up and down a little hill take after take. We were using a mosquito fogger to give the place a smoky appearance, the clouds of war blowing across the land.
One setup had us running behind the three American GIs, up a little path between two bushes, emerging into the main section of the backyard. The first time we did the shot, the GIs ran forward, Adam and I ran along behind them. As we got up around the corner and Rob called the "cut," the GI's all turned around to face me. I was looking at them through a heavy mist of smoke, all of them in full gear, breathing heavy, the Army Jeep behind them, the machine gun emplacement off to the right.... It was a pretty amazing sight, and it actually felt like we had travelled in time a bit (as per the idea of our movie.) On just this small scale, it was wild. On a bigger scale, it has to be exceptional.
The contest gave us guidelines for the film we had to make, including a genre, theme, prop, and line of dialogue. Rob was very interested in making something with an action-movie style for this project, so he and his buddy Adam came up with the idea of a chase scene through different time periods. Adam and I play time-travelers, and we are trying to prevent the bad guys from getting the capital-D Device. The project was ambitious from the start, and it was significantly hampered by our large group of characters but small group of actors. Some necessary rewriting and some creative filmmaking later, the project got a little simpler, but we did film the scenes we needed to film more-or-less on schedule. Another day or two of principal photography, and then a whole day spent editing, and then I’m sure Rob is going to sleep for at least a day when it’s done. Maybe until the official premiere…
Saturday, October 11, 2008
After the audition, I checked around in some local bookstores, and then found a sports bar where I could watch the Phillies in Game 2 of the NLCS. And watch them I did, having two back-to-back 4-run innings. The bar was cheering, I was cheering, the entire city of Philadelphia was cheering. I didn't get to see the end of the game, but I saw enough to have hope in my heart as I drove over to West Philly to see a production of "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. I know all the founders of CTC, having worked with them before, and it was really great to see them all agan. I was also there as a reviewer, and I'll be posting my review here on my blog as soon as I submit it to the paper.
I liked the show. I really did. The show was very heavily stylized in terms of everything: performance, lighting, set. I'm usually not one who enjoys that type of theatre; I like my plays a little more traditional. But I'm also a theatrical professional, so I can see what the production was trying to do, and I can see that they accomplished in successfully. So the play is a good one. It gets a good review, because I think it's fundamentally a strong production. It's not the kind of production that really connects with me, but it's still a good production.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Plus, I've never been an understudy before. When I was at the 'Row doing my internship, I had roles that I had to know in case I needed to go on. I also had roles in which I only had minimal time to prepare for a performance. Many of them were children shows or school tours, but very few of them were evening mainstage shows. This is much more of a professional setup for an understudy position, a much smaller time commitment, but much higher expectations. It'll be an interesting way to spend November.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I've been feeling restless lately, partly because I haven't been going on many auditions, and partly because this is the first fall in two years that I'm not about to leave on a national tour. So it's a strange sensation that I'm not really used to, and I'm looking at other "real" non-acting jobs, and I'm thinking about going back to full-time at the desk job, making as much relatively easy money as I can for the rest of the year, maybe sneak in some dentist and doctor visits under the company's heathcare plan, and then head out to seek my fortune in the new calendar year. I've always been told that I'd have a good career if I stuck with the profession into my thirties, and that's an assessment that I've agreed with in the past. I'm not really one to play the conflicted young men, but I'll do really well when I'm finally old enough to play their fathers. It's just a matter of sticking around in the profession long enough to get those roles.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
But with all that technical craziness behind the camera, this project has turned out very well. Even better than I may have hoped, if I can actually write that out loud on my own blog. This film is very different in subject and tone from “Changing Lane,” and I was never fully convinced while filming that we were really finding that tone. But watching the rough cut of the film, it’s clear that we did in fact hit the tone beautifully. Some of the lighting setups are very effective, and the performances are simple, sweet, and actually rather touching. It’s going to be a good project.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
- working with Tim again, one of the best directors I’ve had in recent years
- doing a relatively “new” play
- a dual-role, getting to play two elements of the same character
- an ensemble based cast,
- working with younger actors, teaching and leading by example
- making an energetic and larger than life character both funny and frightening
- doing the above without playing him like the Joker from Batman
- taking the risks to push my performance away from the familiar and comfortable
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Earlier this week I started rehearsals for Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” with
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
We didn’t have the same equipment this time around as we did for “Changing Lane,” which meant that the shoot had to be handled somewhat differently. We were using halogen work lamps to light the scenes, which meant that we had to improvise different ways to get them to the right height, and different ways to point them to get the right effect. There was also at least once that Rob had to block the light with his own body because we didn’t have shutters on the lights. We were also without the correct microphone this weekend, so we would record all the dialogue separately after the takes. We were using the mic in the camera as we filmed, hoping that it will of good enough quality to use. But I imagine that I’ll also be doing a lot of ADR on the lines I have to loop in this film. And as strange as it sounds, neither Rob nor I own a good quality tripod of our own. I borrowed one from Jeff Paris, a friend at Pella and a frequent commenter on this blog. It worked perfectly with Rob’s camera, except we found that we couldn’t really do any camera moves with it, so we split our shots between the tripod and hand-held shots.
And that’s where both Rob and I were excited that we brought the dolly. This film has a lot of dolly shots, including one where the dolly is coming down the stairs, and they all look incredible. The tripod was a godsend when it came to the dolly, because it made all of those shots possible. So without all the professional rented equipment, we had to come up with creative ways to get the shots that we wanted for the film. We actually had the chance on both shooting days to watch the dailies, which is an opportunity that I’ve never had before. The movie looks great, and some of the lighting effects are fantastic. We haven’t yet gotten together to go over the footage or a rough cut, but Rob has another project he needs to finish first. So I’m tentatively expecting this film to be finished in about 6-8 weeks, so a late-October premiere is probably in the works.
Then it’s time for the next one….
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
The audition went very well. I did a monologue from another Shaw play, which got a few laughs from the director and reader in all the right places. He then had me read a scene that I’d prepared, although not for the character that I wanted. He thanked me for coming in, said that it was very good to meet me, and that was that. I knew that I did a good job on my readings, too. I may have shown off some my actor “bad habits,” but I also know that I did a great job with being in the moment, finding the words, and using the language of the speeches. Not a 100%, but at least a 95%.
I saw the artistic director again, when I went back to hang out with her and the other ladies who were auditioning people for “Sherlock Holmes.” (Sadly, I can’t do that show, since I’m such a HUGE Sherlock Holmes fan.) She said that she would make sure I was called back for the role that I wanted, the role in which she said she could see me. She even started comparing me to past people who had played the role in the area, and while I know that I shouldn’t read into anything that she says at this point in the game, it was still great to hear. She told me the date for callbacks; I made sure to clear my schedule. It also gives me another couple of weeks to read the script a few more times and get a better understanding of the characters before I have my second chance to read for them.
I’m going to nail this one. I want this part, so I will get it.
But the fanboy moment of my night was yet to come. When a woman came in to read for a role in “Sherlock Holmes,” they asked me to hang around for a bit and read opposite her, both as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I was thrilled, giggled like a schoolgirl, and even jumped around for a moment before I put down my bag to grab the script. The ladies all started laughing, and I had to explain that being asked to play Holmes is like other actors being asked to play Hamlet. So I read two scenes with the woman reading for Irene Adler, and I had a blast! I know that role will be in my future somewhere, even if I have to produce the opportunity myself. It worked for Changing Lane, after all.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Since I’ve never read the play, I swung by the library after work on Monday to pick up the play, and I read it as soon as I got home. By the time I was finished reading the first act, I knew that I had to be in this show. The writing and the ideas were up there with “Getting Married,” and the opening scene is one that promises to be both touching and funny. The last time that I felt that excited about a show was the first time I listened to the soundtrack for "The Spitfire Grill," or reading the script for "Eurydice."
I've got my sides and my monologue prepared for tomorrow night, and I've been going over them every chance I get. I'm also trying not to over-prepare for this audition, and going to try to let myself live in the moment while I'm reading for it. Having worked at this theatre before, I know that the Artistic Director was always trying to get me out of my head when I perform. From other work that I've done, I know that I've learned how to get out of my head, so I'm working on channeling that in my audition tomorrow. Make it look easy, but make it look good.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
With Bianca, laying the smoulder on thick.
In the finale, all is now right with the world. Check out the Clark Kent specs.
It was a really good show, with some really great people. Sad to see it go, but I like having those nights to myself again.
Part of the fun (read: adjustment) to working on a film as opposed to a play was learning when the camera was on me, and when it wasn't. It sounds like such a conceited actor-thing to say, but the performances matter the most when they are on camera. If you do all your best acting on the other guy's closeup, literally no one is looking at you. It's also funny to me to think that each scene will be a combination of all the takes, and that the conversations as they happen in the movie never actually happened that way at all. Yes, all the pieces happened at some point, but never all in sequence. And I'm sure I'll be surprised by what exactly is in all those shots, since I hardly got a chance to look at anything through the camera lens. I'll remember the sequence that was shot in the mostly-empty room, and on screen it will be a busy and hopping place.
And yes, this is all stuff that I know from working on "Changing Lane," "Preservation," and other films with my own company and with Rob's company. But it is quite an eye-opener to be experiencing it purely from a performer's point of view. It is really something to be working on a project this big as an actor. Makes me know that I have the stamina, the energy, and the talent to do this as a career.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I've always suspected that I'd be a great TV actor, since I'd always get to play the same character and play in the same world, but I'd constantly be doing new scenes and new stories. Theatre bores me because I'm always working on the same lines and the same story, but it's not like that at all in film. And the schedule is certainly more demanding, but that's another personal struggle that I matched and proved to myself that I could handle. Onward to bigger projects!
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The show, overall, was a challenging one for me to be involved in. It was a long rehearsal process, in which we seemed to work on individual scenes over and over again. It wasn't until only a few days before our first performance that we did our first complete run of the show, which made it hard to get a sense of the through-line of the play until the very last second. As Lucentio, I also spent a lot of time standing on stage and watching what was happening around me. Playing inactive scenes like that are always a challenge. It was a good time, though, because I really enjoyed the actors that I was working with. As m Bianca, Krista shared a lot of scenes with me, and she was a joy to work with. We could always come to rehearsal together to play around and see what would work for our characters, making new discoveries all the way up to closing night. And as Tranio and Biondello, Dave and Andrew gave me some classic comedy moments and it was great to work through the comedy with them.
I also enjoyed the compliments that were heaped on me during the rehearsal process. My show with them two years ago had been a struggle, as the director was constantly making me push against and try to defeat my "bad habits" as an actor. This summer, he was very impressed with my work on this show, and that I had grown as an actor. That was great to hear, as he is an artist that I really respect and someone that I want to work with in the future. It was a very exciting way to spend the summer. I worked with a lot of friends, and I met a lot of people that I want to work with again. I'm about halfway through the filming of GC, the movie I've been cast in, so I'll be updating about that soon.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
It was a nice day. It took a lot of focus and work to focus on the scenework the way I needed to, since there weren't really opportunities for either rehearsals or warmups into the work. I had to act at a second's notice, and then be expected to do it again over and over. Making specific choices but letting them read in very small ways. It was a lot of fun to be just an actor on the film set, too, not worrying about the schedule, the next shot, or how long it was taking. I was there just to do my job and that was it. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this process.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Apparently, there was also a controversy earlier in the set-up process about the security arrangements, parking arrangements, audience arrangements, power arrangements, flower arrangements, and table arrangements. It was a very challenging space to do the show, and the company isn’t even sure if they will be back there next summer. I also heard rumors that the theatre company wants to perform somewhere in the “Fairmount Park System,” but not specifically Love Park. The actors would all prefer the steps of the art museum, or even Fairmount Park itself.
We made our way to a bar/restaurant in University City, drinking and eating the pain away for half price. Can’t beat that! The whole evening was quite a way to cap off our performances in the city; we are all looking forward to hitting the suburbs again. It’s green out there!
When we squinted out into the crowd, we saw a lot of familiar and friendly faces out there. Since it was the first (and nicest) of our center city Philly performances, it was a popular one for our friends and loved ones. I saw people from the summer Shakespeare show two years ago, I saw people from Flashpoint Theatre, and I even saw a buddy of mine that I worked with almost six years ago when I was at Villanova. My parents saw the show last week, but since they came down for the champagne fundraiser, they were wandering around the edge of the audience for most of the second act. The group at the tall ship, I think, sponsored the whole event, and we lucked out because it was a really nice evening to be on the river. It was a nice night to be back on set with everyone, too. I’ve dreaded returning to some shows after a few days off, but with this one I was looking forward to seeing everyone again and playing around.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I’ve got some pictures from the premiere, which I will post in a few days. It was a really good time. I had been looking forward to it for a while, and it was a lot of fun to spend the night celebrating the work we had already done. On the drive out to Mt. Airy, Rob and I decided that we needed to have more of these premiere parties, since we liked going to them so much. We were also double checking that we had the DVD every few miles, knowing it would be a bad idea to get to our own premiere without the movie.
Everyone enjoyed the film, including my family, Andrea’s sister, and the employee of the video store that we invited to join us. He said that they rarely get people showing original material, and he was very complimentary about the project. Everyone there seemed very excited that their library was being used as the site of a premiere for an original film. A big comic book fan that I know described it as “one of the best fan films he’s ever seen,” and that is saying a lot. It’s certainly a quote that is going to go on the back of the DVD release box! Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten on the film is for it’s writing, which has been described as “excellent” and “natural.” Maybe I should go in for a career in screenwriting, or in script editing. I wonder how one goes about finding a career like that…
The audience was very responsive, laughing at all the jokes and in all the right places. I could hear the laughter of some of my friends very clearly, and it really made me proud to hear them laughing so hard at the jokes on which they had given me advice. Like it just made the whole performance pay off for those moments. My buddy also complimented me again when we went out to the bar, saying that he was impressed with the work I did in this show. He also expressed surprise at the power and strength of my voice, saying that he didn’t know I had “such a set of pipes.” I’m the first one to talk in the show, and he was impressed at first by the acoustics in the space. But when he had to work a little harder to hear some other actors, he realized that my voice was just that powerful.
We have a show tonight in a larger and nicer space out in West Chester, and then another on Saturday night in what is promised to be our “most challenging” space of all. Apparently, our performance space is going to be much smaller than the one in which we were rehearsing, so we might need to go out there early on Saturday before the show to re-block a few moments and walk through certain sequences. That’s always one of the fun parts about touring theatre.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
One of the things I like about this director and this process is that he understand what my instincts are and allows me to try all sorts of things as they come to mind. And while not all of them work, he is always able to explain why there is a stronger choice for any particular moment. His direction also focuses the moment for me, so that I can play the scene better. It's not just about taking out the bits and playing with ideas for business, but also about giving the notes that allow the real purpose and intent of the scene to come out and show itself among all the physical beats.
We go back to scene work for a few days, and then we have a run-through for all our designers before we go into tech rehearsals next weekend. It's hard to believe that our first show is coming up, and is only a little more than a week away. Feels like we have plenty of time, and yet we really don't have all that much time left. We're in good shape, though, and now it's just about making what we have even better.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I was also approached by one of their education coordinators about another project the theatre runs. Apparently, they have a new play festival, and they are looking to bring together an ensemble of actors for whom the writers can write the new plays. Apparently, two of their playwrights saw my work in this Playmaking festival, and they were both interested in writing characters for me in the set of upcoming plays. I told them immediately that I was interested in being a part of their ensemble. So again, working on a simple little project has set the stage for my involvement with the company on another level. Hope was explaining the project to me, and it's the kind of project that reminds me why I'd want to be an actor - working one-on-one with writers, working with a close ensemble group, and working on new plays. The kind of thing every actor hopes for.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
With the role of Lucentio, I am again playing the “clean-cut, earnest young man” who ends up with the girl at the end. I’m making a career out of the Shakespearean straight men, since everyone else around me gets all the laughs. But this show is very subversive; I think there is the chance to make Lucentio a little something more. He is not really the most intelligent character in the show, and others consistently lead him around. So I think there is an opportunity to play up those qualities, as opposed to making him just a standard leading man. Part of his humor also comes from the fact that in his first speech, he speaks lofty ideas about studying virtue, and then three pages later he is trying to figure out how to get laid.
The show is set in the 1950s, and Damon, our director, said that he wanted to dig and find those moments in which this show connects to the 1950s. We will strive to make the setting feel like an integral part of the show, not just a concept that we have imposed upon the script. And I’m excited about that idea, because Damon and I share senses of humor. Lucentio spends a lot of time on stage without saying anything, so maybe we can fill some of that silence with little bits of humor. I’m excited for this project, and even excited to sit down with the script and do the homework on the text that I need to. It’s going to be a fun summer.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Tomorrow night I have my first rehearsal for TOS, our first readthrough down in the city. I wanted to have a chance to work over the script on my own before meeting the rest of the cast, but I have been too busy to do my proper homework. The rehearsals don't start in full force until next Monday, so I should have that chance I'm looking for. This week I'll finish my project in Trenton, and then move onto the next project of TOS. All the while working that part-time schedule at Pella windows, this is, truthfully, the life of an actor. And I fervently wish that I could be happy doing something else.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
In short, this week has emerged as a series of small setbacks, which can often be harder to manage than bona fide disasters. When something major happens in your life, there is a feeling that you can get a handle on it, deal with the problems, and then move on from there. But when life gives you a small series of challenges, it can often be harder to deal with them. I've honestly been a little depressed of late, so I'm sure that I'm a little over-sensitive when it comes to these little... encounters.
I also know that I should always buy the shirt when I first see it!
Monday, June 2, 2008
While they were serving dinner under the big tent, there was a torrential downpour. Lightening and thunder seemed to signal the end of the world, and all the actors were rushed away from their tents into the main building where a DJ and a dance floor would finish out the rest of the evening. From that point on, it was pretty much like "Tony and Tina" with a 50s flair. I got paid (in cash) at the end of the night, and I got paid really well for my amount of work. So much so, in fact, that I need to start doing some more promotional stuff with this Philly-based company.
I also met a lot of fun people while working on this, including a talented costume designer, the executives behind the company, as well as a couple of actors that I hope I get the chance to work with again. A few phone numbers and emails added to the list of actors available for Radio Hound Productions, as well as more people in Philly to have coffee and/or a beer with and see their shows. A few days ago I was wishing that I had all this time to myself. Now I'm really glad I went out to play.
Friday, May 30, 2008
We got out of rehearsal just in time for a costar and I to race downtown in time for the opening curtains of the shows we were seeing. I went to see the XXX's production of E. It is a show that I might possible be doing in the fall, so I was interested to see another director's take on the show. Especially from a well-funded theatre that has a reputation for excellent theatre. But the experience last night was very disappointing. The design of the show was amazing, and the most effective moments were the ones that were born out of the set and lighting. There was a moment in which the blue-washed stage was lit brilliantly by a wash of yellow. The effect was striking, and people in the audience actually gasped. There are also two sequences that are thrillingly theatrical, in which E's father builds her a room in the underworld made out of string. Such time and care is given to the moments, it is refreshing to see the director have the faith that the moments would play if given the proper space.
With all these striking elements, however, the production felt very hollow. Several of the leading actors weren't at all convincing in their roles, as if they were trying for something in high style and they never quite pulled it off. The scenes between father and daughter, as well as husband and wife, should have been touching and sweet, but they all felt forced. And with no emotional connection between any of the principle characters, I felt very little emotional connection as an audience member. Some characters broke out of the realistic mode, however, including the three-part "chorus of stones." Attired and interpreted as a trio of clowns, they were complete with baggy pants, oversized shoes, funny hats, and black and white make-up. They performed well as a trio, but I couldn't see how they connected into the rest of the world. And in the double role of "nasty interesting man" and lord of the underworld, XXXXX earns some of the shows more hearty and inappropriate laughs. It felt as though he were presenting characters from a standup routine as opposed to fully created performances.
The director of the upcoming show I might be doing was curious as to my thoughts. And as a result of the show last night, I think I can give him a very good guide as to the potential traps of this show. Our artistic sensibilities lie in the same directions, so I think that most of my thoughts would also be his. I'm glad I caught the show, even if it wasn't all that I thought it would be.