Saturday, August 28, 2010

DdS - Altar boy flashbacks

This afternoon was the second rehearsal for DdS, and the first one where we really got the chance to play around and look at any of the scenes in detail. The show opens with a choreographed routine in which the head waiter and I set the table in meticulous detail before the two leading men crash into the restaurant with a loud and rambunctious energy. So for the first hour and half, Aaron (director, but a different Aaron than Henry V), Jerry (the head waiter), and I played around in order to find the vocabulary of that first little beat of the play.

Jerry had been a waiter/head waiter in his time, so he knew how everything would be done at high-end restaurants, and he was bringing that knowledge to the table in rehearsal. While I've never been a waiter and don't have any of that experience to work with, I was an altar boy when I was younger (no jokes, please), and so I know a lot about ritual, procession, and following the lead of an authority figure. (again, no jokes.) So as we worked out stage business where Jerry sets the table and then I keep handing him plates, I knew exactly the sort of tone and spirit to throw into the scene. It was fun, it really worked, and it provided for some strange flashbacks and I thought about all those Sunday mornings spent holding the Bible for Father Joe.

After that, we worked on the first fifteen pages or so which involved a lot of standing around for me. Not waiting to work, but literally standing around as the waiter and... well, waiting to take their order and fetch the water pitcher to refill their glasses. I have to make sure that I have comfy shoes for this show... Then, for the last hour of rehearsal, we all got dressed up in our costumes (or pieces of our costumes) and then had a photo call for press photos to use to promote the show. I'm sure they will appear online shortly and I will link to them, but it's always fun getting clothes, playing dress-up, and getting my picture taken. After all, I am an actor.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DdS - Read-through and first rehearsal

For the last week or so, I've had no rehearsals, only a few shows, and lots of free time on my hands. And let's not get crazy, I filled as much of that time as I could with drinking, hanging with friends, and working on upcoming scripts for some radio shows. But with the Phily fringe coming up, and my involvement in two different shows, that time off was only destined to last for so long.

I plunged back in tonight with my first rehearsal for DdS, a one-act play in which I play a young and somewhat impressionable waiter. And to top the list of all ironies out there, I am literally the only person involved in the production that has never spent any time in the food service industry. We talked about the show for a bit, read through it once, talked about it some more, and then we had just enough to read through the show for a second time. I am a supporting character in this show, but I realized today at rehearsal that I love playing supporting roles. As much as any actor wants to be the leading man, I have the most fun when I'm embracing my status as a character actor. And this role has a little bit of the character part blended into it, which I enjoy. The cast and crew are a fun group, and it should be an exciting rehearsal process.

My other Fringe show, SWAS, starts with a publicity event on Monday night before rehearsals start on Wednesday, and you can be sure that you'll be hearing about playing Clark Kent a lot.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Closing up shop

From three shows to one show.... In the last few days, I closed my run of Henry V as well as performed my last children's show in the AM for the kiddies. So from having a schedule where I was running around like crazy, I'm now in the temporary position of only having shows late at night on Friday and Saturday. And this has left me with a whole lot of free time for about a week or so.

And while I am trying to use this time to make myself buckle down and work on my upcoming projects, I'm also trying to find/make time to hang out with friends that I haven't seen in quite a while. Balancing personal time with professional time is one of the hardest things to do in my chosen career, but the schedule has given me some free time, and I plan to take advantage of that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Episode Online! - "CC'ed"

The 14th episode of the Stray Dogs Project is online, and you can listen to it at the usual site here: No pictures to go with the posting this week, as all of the recording was done backstage of my recent production of Henry V. In fact, the episode stars the entire cast of Henry V (myself included), and it was all recorded when I asked actors to show up early before the last three performances. In fact, I specifically wrote the script for these actors.
Because of all the craziness going on this week, I knew that I wouldn't be able to schedule a full-on legitimate recording session with all the actors. So I wrote a script in which everyone is alone when they speak, and then their individual speeches were edited into a longer conversation. It's another episode that experiments with the form of audio story-telling, and I think that this structure works really well and tells a good story.

And if some friends and frequent comment-writers on this blog (JParis, for one), notice some things that he thinks are based on my previous experience in an office setting.... Just let me tell him that "all similarities to persons living or dead are purely intentional."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Once more, dear friends

After a week's worth of performances that have sold out in less than an hour, I only have one more performance of Henry V. But it's going to be a great show; the whole nature of our play is the final exam of a high school class, and tomorrow it will literally be the FINAL exam of our class. And not only that, but a high school teacher of mine is planning on coming. He'll see me play a high school English teacher, and I am excited beyond words for this to come to pass.

Dr. Fles taught me Honors English in both the 9th and 11th grade. I remember his classes vividly. One time, he made us learn speeches from Julius Caesar. (I actually did a second one for extra-credit.) I read Huck Finn with him for the first time, and a lot of other classics that I still re-read. And Dr Fles was legendary for his quizzes and tests that had the most complicated instructions of any teacher I've ever had. Sometimes, each question would have a point value attached to it, and we would have to answer exactly 100-points worth of questions or risk losing other points. He also gave us the best/worst extra-credit questions, where you would gain points if you got it right, but you would also lose points if you answered incorrectly. (It completely eliminated guessing; you could do more harm than good.)

In any case, Dr Fles is one of those teachers from my past that I look back on as being supremely important in my overall life. He read plays I wrote, encouraged my love of The Shadow, and was always in his office if I just wanted to chat during a free period. And now he's coming to my show, where I am essentially playing a character that I have loosely based on him. I think this is one of my most personally-anticipated audiences ever.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catch up - looking forward

So, I know the title of this post might be a little strange. Even contradictory. But whatever. It's my blog, and I'll write whatever I want. So there. Anyway, now that mirror universe Nick has shaved off his goatee, I wanted to take the chance to write about some projects that I have coming up in the next few months. Since I just caught you up on my last few months, I guess it's only fair.

My late night show, "B," runs for three weeks, so that journey is just starting. (In fact, I'm sitting backstage right now as I write this entry.) But as soon as Henry V closes, I start rehearsals for DDS with CCTC, and you can find dates/times/information for the show at this link. The production is being presented as a part of the Philly Fringe, and will run for a week in mid-September. But in addition to DDS, I might be a part of the Superhero project done at P&P in Philadelphia. Details have yet to be finalized, but I'm hoping that it will all work out and I'll get the chance to play one of my absolute favorite superheroes. And if you even need three guesses to figure out who it is, you must not know me very well.

But in addition to all of these (and, truth be told, after a lot of them), I am also producing two new live radio shows for different companies. Radio Hound Productions will be back at Fringe Wilmington 2010 with a new live show, a mystery/comedy adventure of our series character Boson Higgs, Science Detective. But wait, there's more! I am in negotiations with the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia to produce another new Boson Higgs mystery as an event for one of their First Friday celebrations. This marks RHP's first official commissioned new work, which is a great step for a company that is less than a year old.

Directing Focus

At tonight's sold-out performance of Henry V, I actually experienced something that our director had previously commented would be perfect if it happened. During a lot of the play, I am hanging around the edges of the stage watching the action taking place. I leap in, narrate a little bit and inspire the actors/students, and then I fade over to the side again to watch the action as it develops. During one of our first rehearsals, Director Aaron said that whenever he looked over to me and saw me watching, I served to direct his attention back over to the scene that was playing out onstage.

So at the performance tonight, a man wearing a very obvious blue shirt was sitting in the front row. During the opening scene, he kept glancing from the action onstage over to me in the corner. But I just remained engaged with the scene, and I always felt his head swivel away from me and toward the action. Even though it kept happening through most of the scene, he would always look away form me and toward the action that I wanted him to watch. It was a very clear and very immediate example of how powerfully an actor can direct the focus of the audience. Pretty cool.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Catch up

I hate playing catch up and letting this blog go by without updates for long stretches, but I also know it happens often enough that I always feel like I'm apologizing for it. In any case, since my last post, I have opened my summer production of Henry V. The whole process was a great learning curve, working with a director I admire and a cast of very talented actors. We have gotten a lot of good buzz, as well as some great reviews that you can read here and here. And also here and here. I told you we've been getting a lot. We have another week of the show to go, and there is even talk of a possible extension week of added shows.

I've also been working on a late-night show, "B," that will run for three weekends at 10:15 in the evening. I have a small walk-on cameo role, so the rehearsals haven't been all that busy or frequent for me so we can work around the Henry V schedule. We had our technical rehearsal last night, and now I have four straight nights where I will be running straight from Henry V to B, getting ready for 10:15 performances after my 7pm one. It's going to be a fun week.

And, on top of all that, I've almost finished the morning performances of a children's show I'm involved with. We have two more shows next Tuesday morning, and a possible added show later in the summer. It's been a good run in terms of finances and meeting people, but the show can be a little exhausting at times. It's a lot of early mornings, and sometimes we get groups of children that are much too young to really appreciate the script and the show; they just like looking at goofy people in funny hats.

Next update will chart ahead and look at the projects I have coming up.