Thursday, October 28, 2010
But until my blog post is uploaded, please enjoy this teaser trailer for the upcoming short film.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
A few posts ago, I mentioned a fun project that I hadn't written about yet. Well, this is an entry on that project. A few weeks ago, I headed down to a photographer’s studio to be a character in a comic book. I’ve been reading comic books since I was six years old, and I am now an avid collector. I love those old newsprint pages from my youth, and they fire something deep in my imagination. So when a friend of mine sent me an email from an artist who was looking for actors to pose as character models for a comic book, I made sure to answer that email right away.
David, the artist, responded very quickly and explained the overall plot of the graphic novel he was illustrating. Based on actual events, the comic book would chronicle the series of nights when Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and two other guests gathered around a fireplace to entertain each other with ghost stories. Each issue would be a different character’s story in which the storyteller would take on the role of “hero,” the final issue being the most famous story to come out of that party – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” David cast me as Lord Byron, discussed some costume things, sent me the script for the comic, and then we scheduled the photo shoot.
I arrived at his studio not knowing what to expect, but thrilled to learn. When everyone had arrived and gotten into wardrobe, we moved into the studio, which David had decorated as small sets. I had read the script and so I knew the story behind each scene. But since David was shooting still images for the comic, it was an interesting acting challenge to convey the intent behind dialogue without getting the opportunity to actually say any of it. We worked out a system, though, where we read the dialogue for each panel, and then struck a pose to convey the intention. Without the use of my voice, I relied on body language and facial expression. David explained that he will use the photos as a reference when illustrating the comic, so I really tried to create the character in my eyes.
The entire group wrapped shooting at about noon, but David and I stayed for another few hours to finish up the first issue, which had a lot of solo shots of my character as he was telling his scary story. In this ghost story, I got the chance to play a Jekyll/Hyde character. And since Jekyll and Hyde is one of my favorite books, I was thrilled to play the part. At the end of the day, David let me keep one of the wardrobe shirts (which I have already used in another project), and he promised to send me the artwork when he finishes some pages. And you can sure believe that I’ll be posting some of that here if he allows me.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
So, we blocked Hamlet in four days. And that includes the fights. I’m going to give you a chance to think about that again. Hamlet is one of the longest and most complicated of Shakespeare’s plays, and we blocked it all in four days. Granted, we’re only doing a 4-actor, 75-minute version of the play. And if that sounds almost impossible, it’s because it is. The first set of challenges is learning how to run around backstage in order to make all your costume changes as well as play musical cues, and then still remember which side of the stage you enter on. Then acting happens on top of all that.
Because of how quickly we have to work to get ready for the show, the pace in the first few days was hurried and somewhat hectic. As we struggled to remember the lines we had learned on our own, the work on each scene was necessarily brief and perfunctory, consisting mostly of ideas of the “you stand there, then move over here, then exit” variety. While I understand that is the best way for us to start because of our schedule, it is a style of rehearsing that really doesn’t work well for me. When the process starts with detail work so early, I sometimes feel like a puppet. It robs me of some of my creative impulses because I feel that they aren’t really wanted yet.
Luckily, the fourth day of work did involve some work on quieter character moments, and we changed the blocking accordingly when we found something didn’t work. So our uber-specific beginning isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, but it certainly took some of the wind out of my sails right from the beginning.
Every artist (actor, director, designer, writer) invariably has their own rhythms and their own preferences when it comes to how they work on a show. One of the biggest and least understood challenges in theatre, however, is that those artists need to learn how to work together and allow those rhythms to complement each other, instead of letting conflicting patterns shake the entire production apart. It’s a challenge that each artists needs to address in their own way, and it’s one that I’m not completely confident with yet. I haven’t yet figured out a good way to deal with that sort of conflict, but I’m trying to figure it out.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
That's me, second from left, dressed in one of the nicest shirts that I've ever worn. I'm playing the young waiter at the restaurant. While the other three in the picture may have gotten more lines and more stage time--in fact, the two guys in suits were onstage for 45-minutes straight--I did get to end the show by drinking some wine onstage. According the script, my character lifts a decanter of wine to his mouth and drinks hungrily, greedily, until the wine pours out of the decanter and runs down his chin and down his body. Something like this:
I went home after every show smelling like grape juice. It was an amazing moment of theatre to have the wine running all the way down my shirt, and the director Aaron and I had a few discussions about what this moment should be. It presented a unique challenge, however, because we couldn't "rehearse" the moment due to the amount of liquid and the mess involved. So we would talk about the moment, I would do the big pour at the end of the run of the show, I would get cleaned up, and then we would talk about it again. A pretty strange way to rehearse a moment of a show, but a fun one.