Friday, February 13, 2009

'Acting For The Frosting'

Today we ran through the whole show without any stops. It was exhilarating. The show runs an hour and a half, which is a long time to be on stage without stopping. There are 40 pages of dialogue, broken  into seven movements with fifty four beats. It feels like being in the middle of a whirlpool, that finally spits you out at the other end. I'm always amazed at the response when you tell people you are doing a one person show. It is that 'look' that people give you, that look of, "you must be crazy".  The show is memorized. The structure of the set is up, with some painting left to do. The sound design is roughly sketched in, with more sound to ad this weekend. We are ahead of schedule, which feels good. I feel like we really have something. My collaborators, Kurt and Scott, feel it too. 

Each run through of the show is another opportunity to discover the material as an actor now. Today, was a very different run through than yesterday, because today I worked on the 'technique'  of 'planting and breathing' that I've taught and worked on for years. The great Lawrence Olivier said that acting is two things, "planting the feet firmly on the stage, and breathing", he is SO right. The most difficult technique to master on the stage is reaching a place of completely relaxing in front of an audience. To have complete technical control of the movement and text, so that the emotion can rise from within. Along with the planting and breathing, was the movement from one position to another, without interrupting the flow of gestures. It is magical. Although today was less 'organic' than yesterday, it felt very good to attack the show from a character's point of view. Today, there was much less of 'me' and more of some character that came through from the 'point of attack'. Now, I'll have to bring the authenticity back into the character of myself, since the story is one that came 'out of me'. Lots of interesting psychological obstacles. The entire show today was 'an act of emotion', which is what happens when emotions are 'mimicked' in a performance. Each run through becomes an exercise of separating the parts. In other words, 'this run through is about rhythm, this run through is about technique, this run through is about movement, this run through is about physical and audio projection, and so on...' These are the actors tools. Heady but really fun stuff. 

Tonight, I feel exhausted, a little anxious, and lots to be grateful for. Tomorrow, we will finish putting the outer coat of paint on the set, and get ready for the 'sponging'. The sponging is what gives the set texture, so that there is a dimensional look. After that, we will do another run through with props. Sunday, we will finish sponging, and hang the lights. There are six lighting areas to focus, two surprise specials, and three 'down specials', which will be one of the final elements of 'getting ready'. After the lighting and sponging are finished, we will do another run through. Monday will be our 'cue to cue', which is where we go through the show point by point, placing our lighting and sound changes. This is the longest rehearsal of the lot. It will probably take us four hours to do the 'cue to cue'. (A cue is a sound, line, movement, etc., that lets the light and sound board operator know when a change occurs). And then, Tuesday and Wednesday will be our full tech and dress rehearsals, to prepare for a preview on Thursday. In this situation, a preview is a performance with an invited audience, so that I can have some idea what the audience might react to. For example, if there is a line that creates a laugh from the audience, there may be an interruption of the rhythm, so I can be somewhat prepared to 'hold' for that particular laugh. In a new play, you don't really know what may be funny or not. It does not, however, just pertain to laughter. Sometimes, a 'dramatic moment' might hold the rhythm up as well. So, the show becomes a technical exercise as well as a repetitive exercise. It is almost ready. I hope some of you can come. I will have a great time telling you this story in this amazing form of theatre! Goodnight... 

5 comments:

Gerry said...

Wow, things start sounding so technical now, which only happens after you have acted enough and been involved someway or another in doing a play, new or otherwise. Exciting stuff, unreal, too, since it is so out of most of our experience in doing. So many things you juggle in your mind, keeping track. Yes, that's it, you have to be a juggler. I hope you take a moment this weekend to look at the juggler site I put on my blog list. Cause that's what you are doing here! I remember you practicing your juggling. I got up thinking I might find something exciting on line and here it is, another entry from you. Sharing the experience. I am not able to be so specific, so precise at this time in my life, so I like looking into someone else's reality who can be. M.

Pamela said...

Hi Raymond! It was good to hear your voice yesterday. Thanks for the invitation to a rehearsal. Based on my schedule for next week I am going to try to make it on Tuesday. I'm so interested in everything that you write about your preparations. There's so much to do that I was not aware of. What a project you have before you!
Have a good weekend.
Pam

Ann said...

Putting together a one-man show...an hour and half is something beyond my ken. I'm in front of people 2 minutes and it feels way to long. I can't even imagine an hour and half! May you find the perfect flow. Love what you are doing. Love hearing about it. Love you.

LaRena said...

Sounds like a total marathon of hard work. Not many people would have the stamina to be on stage for an hour and a half. Much less the know how to get it all ready for go time. You are definitely to be commended amd I wish you the success you have dreamed of much more. You have surely earned it. Do you think you will ever bring the show to Phoenix? You would have a guaranteed audience. Mich love,Aunt LaRena

Cheryl said...

Rick said he wants to come with us. I'm not sure you can plan properly for that sequence of laughter accompanied by my tears since they usually go together. It has been a great ride. Thanks for taking us all on this trip.