Monday, September 14, 2009

Opening weekend

Last Thursday, we opened D&S and then had two more performances on Saturday. The opening went very well, and we finally got a sense of what people think of our show. It was something of a relief to know that it was funny and moving and effective in all the ways that we think it is. One of my scenes was funny at the reading, and then funny in rehearsals, and then the jokes started feeling a little flat. It was because the director/staff had heard them and seen them so much, but the audience that had never seen the scene before laughed long and hard. I got off stage and smiled at the woman in the scene with me.

The Saturday matinee was a little off, maybe either because of a lack of focus, an abundance of drinking, or the sunlight streaming through the windows backstage. We had a little meeting before the evening show to talk about focus and intention and actor-things like that, and then we nailed the second show. We have a line-through scheduled before our next show on Thursday, and then another double show on Saturday that we should be better prepared for. And that's the run. Ah, Fringe.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Once more....

Tonight is our final dress rehearsal for D&S. We had a very good run last night in the theatre, and we have another one tonight. Our director said that last night we put up a very strong skeleton framework for the show, and so tonight at rehearsal we need to work on pulling more of the heart and spirit into everything. We are also having line problems. It's an interesting problem to have this late in the game, but there is it. We are working on such a language-heavy play, we have spent months now focusing on the language and making sure that we are getting word-perfect on all our lines. As the shows get closer, though, we are still focused on getting all of our words correct, the director noticed that we are sometimes leaving the immediate world of the play to "fix" a mistake that we've made. Or else she can see us concentrating on the words that come next.

When I do talkbacks with student audiences, one of the questions that always comes up is "how do you learn all those lines?" Every actor has a different answer as to how they memorize. But the more interesting problem to me is - how do you make those lines feel like realistic speech and not just the words that you're saying? Personally, that is always a step that comes very late in the process for me. I will usually always focus on the blocking first and then the text second. Once the lines and the moves are firmly in my body, it is a lot easier for me to engage my imagination and let the words live as natural reactions in my body. It's usually then, once I've mastered all those technical details, that I can really let myself live in the moment. Lucky for me, that usually happens in the week before we open, and I'm able to play in those moments for the run of the show.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So it's a holiday Monday night, and I just got home from the cue to cue working run of our show. After we loaded everything into the space yesterday, tonight was the night where we went slowly through the show working each moment and writing in each lighting and sound cue. It's something of a long process with any production, but trying to do a complicated show like this in only a matter of hours is going to be a challenge. As it was, it took about an hour and half to set everything up before we were ready to start, and then half an hour spent around the top of the show ate into our time even more. It was very quickly apparent that we would not be out of there early.

After we got started, though, it went pretty smoothly. The hardest parts were toward the top of the show, and once we passed them it all handled much more easily. It took until just before 11, but we're in good shape to go into our last two rehearsals before people actually come to see this show on Thursday for the first time. We got that little reality check this evening, too, but I do feel really good about the work I'm doing in this show. I will need to find the best way to focus myself before the performances, but I'm excited to play the role.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Philly Fringing

This weekend marks the beginning of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. My current show, D&S, is a part of the Fringe, as well as about 100 different pieces of theatre. And that doesn't even include all the music, dance, improv, comedy, or Live Arts pieces out there. Some of my fellow castmates broke in the Fringe last Thursday night with a late night performance of a live-reading of a comic book. The book was from the 1940s, and so it was pretty trippy to hear all of that old-time dialogue again. There are three different comic books that are a part of the reading, and after seeing the Wonder Woman installment, I am going to check out the Batman reading. They aren't doing a Superman one, or I would have felt very left out!

Most of my Fringe festival this year is occupied with either performances/rehearsals for D&S, or with rehearsals for my upcoming J&H. I do have a few nights in there off, and I am going to be able to see the shows that some friends are putting up. One of the most amazing parts of the Philly theatre scene is the overall support and feeling of community, so I'm going to go out and encourage that spirit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Month, New Plan

I’m sitting in the back of rehearsal at the moment for D&S. I’m sorry I haven’t posted more on this blog, but as always happens, whenever I am really busy with work, when the postings would be the most interesting, that’s always when I can’t find the time to write on here. So far, tonight has been our first full runthrough of our show which opens next Thursday. I have a mini-arc of scenes within the show, and I think that I brought a whole lot of really interesting stuff to my first three appearances. I found new stuff, and some lines finally clicked into place to make sense.

But the next two scenes felt a little out of place and a little wonky. I came out with a slightly different focus and tried a whole bunch of different stuff, and some of it didn’t work so well. It’s always a crucial thing to know that, though, since it is only through finding those choices that don’t work that you know the right ones. Sometimes I make the best choice right off the bat in the process, and so rehearsals are a chance to explore around and find different colors for that choice. I like that my instincts can be right on sometimes when it comes to those such choices, but it often makes the process a little anti-climactic for me.

Catching up will be done piece by piece, as I have to fill readers in on the details of this rehearsal, as well as the production of CDD which I just directed in New York City. We are also two weeks away from starting rehearsals for J&H for Fringe Wilmington, which is a journey that I will chronicle very closely. For the memoirs, you know…