Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Twenty-Eight Days'

Today was a day off from the theatre except for an hour or so memory work that I have to do tonight.  Kurt was able to get Lakers tickets from his brother, so we went to The Staples Center and watched the Spurs get rocked by the Lakers. I have never been in the Laker's house, so it was fun to feel the live energy there. 

After we arrived home, I went to a place called 'Crane's', where they were having 'Aussie Day', that's all the Australians together in a bar getting really drunk and playing music really loud. I listened to my friend, Carla Werner play, and then left. Australians are fun loving and friendly people, with a great soul. The live musicians played lots of Australian music, so everyone was singing and having a great time. It was great just to listen to all of those Australian accents for awhile. Its also really interesting that they have such a vibrant underground, I guess its like any of the cultures here, they know and support each other. 

The play is coming right along. I'm finding it to be really hard work though, we've been rehearsing four to five hours a day, (not including the memory work I'm doing before and after). The logic would be that since you wrote the material, it will be easier to memorize. That is not the case, its like any memorization, long hours and lots of repetition. We're also still making cuts and switching things around, which is really fatiguing sometimes, but it has to be done. It is really amazing though, what begins to happen with the script. As you re-work and re-work, the script begins to get distilled down to its essence. Getting it to where it all belongs in the story you have to tell is the motive.  As I said before, there are pages of writing that was really  very good that gets cut. I have a 'Bohemian Cowboy Remnants File' which is where 'cuts' go. Its nineteen pages of cuts right now, and there will be more. Some of that material may get used for other plays or other kinds of writing, but if you imagine nineteen pages out of the forty-five pages the play originally was, its quite a chunk. Because I want the show to run ninety minutes, I have to work in new material with the cuts, but with material that keeps the narrative where I want it. It is grueling right now, so every day has to count in some way--ironically, twenty-eight days until opening--the same about of time one would spend in a month's rehab. I will go through a total transformation in these next twenty-eight days. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I think I told you I'm back on my walking and working out schedule, only now its four to six miles a day, and an hour of weight work. By the way, it takes me an hour and forty-five minutes to do six miles. I hope to be ten or so pounds lighter by opening. 

On the production front, Scott found a projector on line for two hundred and fifty dollars, which we will need for one of the sections of the play. The set design is also changing each day, last night Kurt sent the script and design ideas to his cousin Lance at The University of Delaware, (he's an artist and designer) to get his input. There's talk of him painting us a design, or at least creating a model. We have the acting spaces pretty well set, however, which facilitates the blocking or the 'composition of movement' of the play.  If walls do end up moving, it won't be that hard for me to make a few changes. Although there is lots to be done, after lots of years of doing this, I'm really trusting in the process of the production. The trick is to not lay in bed and 'freak out' by everything that is not done. Rather, you must be emboldened by the progress you are making, and trust in the energy that will come 'down the wire'. When doing a play, the last couple of weeks tend to get what I call 'wall to wall', but there is a special energy that manifests when you are almost there. There is a point in any production when you begin to feel what you have--Saturday, after we warmed up, and I went through the first twelve page run, I felt like we really have something special. Of course, the hopeful plight of believing in what you have must be present to do this kind of work, but this show does feel special. It feels transitional, not only of my life, but of my work. A new kind of work is emerging. 

As the bank account dwindles down, I feel a lot the excitement that a gambler must feel, right before he bets on a race that looks like long odds, but he has some inside information that know one else knows about. It's not a sure thing, (nothing is) but the odds on the board, and the odds in his heart are very much in opposition. The odds will increase as you buy your tickets...


TJ in Boulder said...

Raymond - following along with interest and support from a distance. It's great to be privy to your working process. Thanks. An note on losing the 10 pounds. When people increase their exercise they tend to subtly increase their intake and do not lose weight. Recommendation: cut down on white foods: bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, and watch out for fried foods or those high in fats. When working long hours and becoming tired there is a tendency to substitute sugar for sleep.Even if it's just 20 minute "cat naps" be sure to get sleep. One last note: Things are best maintained in memory if they are the last thing studied before sleep. So, if you have a difficult section, work on it before sleeping and make it the last new thing of that day. Stay well my friend.

Gerry said...

I do feel that you are almost like an athlete training for the Olympics, when the performance must be top drawer. But it is very exciting to me to go through an inside door to look at the process as I think then I will be all the more caught up in the end result. I will be even more emotionally involved, so taking us on this journey with you is just another way for the show to have impact. Mom

Pamela said...

In nursing school they taught us to learn things in increments of 20 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. The brain can't retain more than 20-30 mins of info. Then, take a break...just a short one. See if that helps.
Can I come up and see a rehearsal?

LaaRena said...

Oh Raymond, it is exciting to share with you the very hard work you are doing. All the things you talk about are really the things one must do to make a life as well as a play. Doing it with gusto. Keep up the good work and stay well.