Friday, January 11, 2008

Theater news

Oh, boy, I haven't blogged in a while and now that I've started I can't seem to stop. Lots of pent-up blogging demand in me, I guess!

[Warning: loooonnggggg post]

I'm happy to report that my theater life has been busy. I just can't seem to get enough, at least not so far, although I'm beginning to be able to imagine that a time could come when I won't feel such a driving desire to keep doing show after show. Anyhoo, a while ago I mentioned that I had gotten a part in a show with a local director whose work I admired. It went live in November for three weeks, and overall the experience was a good one, albeit a bit stressful for a variety of reasons. I learned a lot about how to act in a farce:
  1. Don't try to get a laugh. These people are deadly serious about their lives. Let the material get the laugh for you.
  2. Talk faster than you normally would, especially if you're playing an intense person or it's a tense situation.
  3. Keep the pace up. With very few exceptions, the dialogue has to be rapid-fire. If there's dead air, the humor will be lost. Serious plays have quiet spots. Farces have lots of noise and action.
My part was a relatively small one, and she was not a pleasant person. Some adjectives you might use would be "cold, bitchy, demanding, self-absorbed, vain." It was definitely casting me against type since up till now people have wanted to use me for the pleasant girlfriend/wife parts. So I very much appreciated the opportunity as a somewhat green actress, although it did contribute to the stress because I'd yet to discover whether I was up to it or not! I think I carried it off OK, although I wasn't sure at first. When you have a small part, people don't necessarily direct a lot of compliments your way because naturally they're focused on how well the leads did. It wasn't until the last weekend that someone I knew took me aside and more or less raved about how I'd done. That was a huge relief to me. The last thing you want to do is be an dead weight in a good production, and until she'd done that, I couldn't be sure I wasn't. Of course the Huz told me I was good, but he would, wouldn't he? :o) And others had made some general comments about "You guys were wonderful!," which frankly means nothing to an actor.

So, if you ever have a friend in theater and go to see their show, if you really think they did well, say something specific so they know you're not just blowing sunshine at them, OK? We really don't know if we're doing well. We rely on you to help us know. If all we get is general comments, we're liable to conclude that we're not doing all that well. Of course, if you think they stink, just try to slink out the back door without saying anything so you don't have to compromise your ethics!

The director took some black & white still pictures & promised to share them with us. If he does I'll try to post some later.

So, what's coming up next? Next week I start rehearsals for another murder mystery weekend, or what the Huz calls "a life-sized game of Clue", to be produced the weekend of February 29. Our cast of 13 (ooo! unlucky! for the murdered one(s), that is, heh, heh) will be in character all weekend long, as murder(s) occur(s) and the guests at the resort attempt to discover who dunnit. You may recall I did one of these last year.

Here's the blurb from the resort's website

Join Hector MacLean and his wife Gillian (that's me!), along with a clan of MacKenzies who have come to the resort for a family reunion. Little do they know that the Cameron family has the same idea. These two families have a long history of feuding. It's a situation ripe for murder. It falls to Detective-Sergeant Malcolm Hardasche of the Vermont State Police to unravel the tangled tartan of grudge, deceit, betrayal and Scottish passion that play out like an unmentionable drama in "MacDeath."

2-Night Package
Main House $206
Terrace Wing / Suite $249
Avery Suite $407

2-Night Minimum Stay required. Package includes 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 nights lodging and amenities.

Isn't that amazingly inexpensive? This is a pretty nice resort. $206 per person includes all meals except one lunch, Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast. And this is no diner food, folks. The food is excellent.

Anyway ... this time I believe the director wants to do more improvisation and fewer scripted scenes, which is making me a little nervous! When you do improv, you're basically writing the scenes as you go along. It's not that you just show up the day of the show and spontaneously pull something together. It's that you rehearse and rehearse, try this, try that, and when you finally get it the way everyone thinks works well, then you have to keep trying to reproduce that or something close to it at subsequent rehearsals and on the day of the show. I'm much more comfortable with scripts!

And with a full-immersion show like this, you have to also get your back story figured out, because you never know what the guests are going to ask you, and if they ask you a question and you give one answer, and then they ask someone else the same question and get another, they might think that's a clue and not just that you've bungled the answer, and that's not fair to them. So we have to be fairly thorough about inventing our back story, too. Add to that the need to learn to speak with a Scottish accent, and that I'll be a character very different from myself (this one stern, dismissive, bossy ... OK, OK, I have a hint of bossiness in me :o) .. it's going to be a challenge. But that's why they call it acting! And one definite blessing is that I don't have to weep my way through the entire weekend this time. That got to be a bit of a downer last year!

(I also have to learn a Scottish accent for this MMW. The last 3 shows I've done have required foreign accents --Russian, British, and now Scottish. I have vowed that the next thing I do is going to be plain old American.)

Sunday I'm planning to audition for a 10-minute play festival, with another new director/producer in town who's done work in Hollywood and New York, and is sure to be a mover & shaker in the theater world hereabouts. He grew up in the area, graduated high school here, and then went on to be a professional. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing maybe he's moved back here to raise his family in a healthier environment.

Anyway, he recently produced & starred in a wonderful production of a little-known Arthur Miller play, "A View From The Bridge", and now he's producing these 10-minute plays, each of which has a different director. The festival is happening for two weekends in February, so if I'm offered a role I'll have to consider carefully whether I can do both this and the MMW. If I weren't working, too, I'm sure I could handle both, but I am, so we'll see. Wish me luck! Better to be offered a part and turn it down than to not be offered anything at all!

My sis says to me when she hears all this, "You're so funny." "Funny, or crazy?" I IM back. "Whichever suits you." she says. Yep. Whichever suits me.

P.S. Any new passions in your life?

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