Thursday, August 30, 2007

Theatrical Homework

We had rehearsal on Wednesday night, during which we finished our two-night work-through of the show. We broke it down by scenes, and then we spent time looking at those scenes slowly and deliberately. Tim is also very interested in gesture work, creating physical movements that can express and capture the essence of any scene. A good gesture, he implies, can convey story far more effectively than the text alone. And then when we lay text across those gestures, the scenes spring to life. They are now layered and evocative, far more than they would have been if we were merely speaking the words.

So for our next rehearsal on Saturday, Tim gave us all the “homework” of coming up with five gestures that we can use for our character. He further qualified that by saying that this did not apply to all the gestures that we had already come up with. So as I strive to maintain my self-imposed goal of being off-book on Saturday, I also need to come up with five gestures. I know that the physical sequence from the previous entry is calling for some very strong gestures, so I’ll just have to spend some time on Friday or Saturday morning playing around. I’d love to come up with gestures inspired by pop culture, like poses from Superman, Star Wars, or even Zorro.

Lovin' Big Love

[Tuesday morning, 8/28]

Monday night, it was just the three guys at rehearsal for Big Love, and we worked on the physical movement in a scene where the script calls for us to be throwing ourselves to the ground. Now, we all agreed that we weren’t looking forward to throwing ourselves to the ground, so with our choreographer, Robin, we worked on creating a physical sequence that would help express a series of rather long and intricate monologues. The three men have speeches that culminate in my two-page monologue about the “proper” relationship between men and women. It was a really fun thing to work on, as the three of us boys worked really well together. Ideas that we had would fuel each other, and there was a healthy degree of one-up-manship that made us want to stretch ourselves to improve the scene. Robin really enjoyed the night, saying that she had a lot of fun watching us work.

This show is turning out to be a lot of fun. That first night, driving into the distance to perform, I had a momentary flicker of anxiety. I wasn’t sure that I’d made the right decision to work on such a crazy script right before I left on tour. But from that first day, I haven’t looked back. I’m really digging the chance the script gives me to stretch myself and my performance, and it’s something that I wouldn’t have the chance to do in Philly. I also like working with our director Tim, as well as the college students. They all bring a wonderful amount of enthusiasm to the project, and while they are very serious, no one takes it too seriously. It is a great working atmosphere, and a nice escape from some actors who treat everything with such weight and severity. It’s nice to remember that this is supposed to be fun.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brief Update

Sorry that I've been MIA, but this week we started rehearsing Big Love. I'm also working at Pella windows all week, and they do not let me access this blog from work. But I promise that I will get more out soon, and everything is going well. I'm not doing "Java Drama," and I did two shows of Tony n Tina's Wedding this weekend. I will try to write more soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fringe audition

Last night, I auditioned for a play called Java Drama, a site-specific show set in a coffee house for the Philly Fringe. Wandering around the city in sweltering temperatures, I wasn't at all excited about coming out there every night to rehearse. But when I found a rehearsal schedule set during the day, a great group of people, and a show that sounded very interesting and very appropriate for me, I'm totally on board. They said they wanted to cast the role as soon as possible, so I'm expecting to hear some time before lunch. This is the worst part of any actor's life, I think. Waiting those few tense days between the time of the audition and the time of the casting phone call.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A different perspective

Over the weekend, I attended a country music concert at the Tweeter Center. Brad Paisley and his entourage were fantastic, giving a great show full of excellent music. The Tweeter presented them well and the huge crowd was very enthusiastic, but halfway through the concert I found myself considering that I have very recently been in a similar position. The country tour travels in vehicles together, taking everything they need, going across the country from venue to venue, performing a show every day in a space they have never seen before. This is just what we did for the winter last year with Cinderella, although granted usually on a much smaller scale. We performed in smaller venues, for smaller crowds, generally for smaller people, but we were basically doing the same thing.

So that got me thinking about that particular style of living. As much fun as Brad and Jack were having onstage, backstage I knew they were trying to find their dressing rooms, eating whatever brand of food was provided, worrying about the laundry they had to do before the next venue, thinking about spending the next day on the road, and wondering where they would sleep for the next week. Now, granted, they have tour buses, gobs of money, and personal assistants who do all that for them, but the basic life itself is the same. I'm not saying that we share the same experience; I'm pretty sure that country stars don't really have to work in shifts to navigate their own touring vehicle through the night. It was a fun moment where I realized that our jobs might not be all that different.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Filling in the cracks

I just accepted a role in the play "Big Love" I mentioned in a previous post, and the show runs in late September. It fits into my schedule between two other projects, it seems like an interesting show, and I always like doing as much as I can. So for all of you who live near Allentown, I'll be performing up there in a few months. I'm playing a character named Constantine, who comes off as the constantly-angry friend. Reading his monologue for the audition, I was struck by the need for shading in his attitudes and anger, or else it is the constant repetition of the same note. It should be a fun thing to play with.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Big Love (no affiliation with the HBO series)

I auditioned last night for a play called "Big Love," by Charles Mee.
It's a re-telling of a Greek play being produced by a college theatre
department in the area. As much as I don't want to do free theatre for a
college, it would fit nicely into my schedule, it would be another show
for the year, more connections, and a good reason to work fewer hours
at Pella Windows. When I first read the script, which was available
online, I wasn't so interested in the project. I went mostly because I had
an audition time, and I knew the show would fit into my schedule
before I left for Romeo and Juliet. But after talking to the director for a
while, I completely changed my mind about the project. He seemed like a
fun guy who had some interesting ideas about the script. He did
confirm the "free" of the free theatre, but he managed to sell me on the idea
of the project. The script is written in a high-style, classical
language, blank verse in places, and there are long monologues that are more
like poetry than speech. It would be an interested project.

Tony N Tina's Wedding, Jersey Style!

As a special guest artist, I spent the weekend at the Showboat Casino
in Atlantic City performing in their company of "Tony N Tina's Wedding."
While basically the same as the show in Philly, the AC version is both
shorter and wilder. The dynamic of the cast is very different, as it
has a lot of the long-time performers from the show in South Philly.
Although it was over much faster, I really do prefer the longer show in
Philly. Because there is more in the show, it's paced a little better,
where you can get momentum, then slow down, then race forward again. In
the shorter show, the entire performance is a race from beginning to
end. The calmer moments in the shorter show allow you to catch your breath
and learn a little about the characters; this way, you only get to see
them doing crazy things without really the same opportunity to learn
about them.

The experience was totally different as well. I stayed in a room in the
hotel, we could eat for free in the cafeteria for hotel employees, and
I had no commitments other than the shows at night. It was delightful!
I spent afternoons on the beach or the pool, reading and swimming, and
then I could get a free dinner after the show. I didn't gamble at all,
but it's only because I was honestly a little intimidated by the idea.
I also didn't want to throw money away in slot machines. Next time I
go down there, I'll bring some money to play with.

I also got to have a friend come to the show on Sunday, and although
she had to leave a little early, she said she had a great time. She took
some pictures of the show as well, of which I don't have very many. It
was a good vacation, and I was glad I finally got the chance to do the
show down there. I wouldn't go down every week, I imagine it might get
boring very quickly, but it was a nice change of pace. Good to see some
old friends too, who only perform down there.