Back Ward


You may have noticed my absence from the Aviary for the last week. I continued writing, but wanted to leave my entry addressing Staff Sgt. Keith "Matt" Maupin (see 3/31/08) up and prominent for a week. The remainder of last week's entries have now been published, in which you can find plenty of evidence that I'm back to my usual inanity.

The last week was actually a pretty busy one with theatrical activities, each of them under the guise of a "staged reading" (and y'all know where I stand on those [see 2/27/08 {but also 3/11/08, for a semi-retraction}]). These were paying readings, however, and at least one of them was a play I might actually stand a chance of playing the character for in a full-scale production. Allow me to procede in reverse chronological order. Or, if you won't allow it, read backwards.

.yllautnevE .ti fo gnah eht teg uoy ,em tsurT.

Last night I participated in a reading for an aspiring playwright, one who simply wanted to hear her words aloud in order to move on to the next stage of revision. Kate Chadwick is an actress, primarily, but I've never seen her work. I met her whilst working at the law office that used to employ me full-time. She is also a dancer, and the subject of her one-act that we were set to read, Swan Song, was the inner world of a classically trained dancer coming to realize she needs to break free of some of that world. I played the central character's brother (rather the comic relief, along with their sister) and we read in the living room of an apartment in Queens. I've usually enjoyed this kind of pizza-and-soda reading, but this one was particularly fun. Kate has a particularly lively sense of humor that, it seemed, everyone there shared. Interesting, too, how she incorporated that sense of humor into her writing of a largely serious play; I reaped a lot of the benefit of that, playing a kind of clown type. Kate's piece was also interesting to me for being a kind of dance/theatre hybrid, akin in some ways to the circus/theatre work I do. One can never adequetely describe those movement aspects in writing, so the play can not exist solely as literature. Frustrating in development, but ultimately a worthwhile effort, I find.

Saturday was occupied with the rehearsal for and performance of a staged reading of one of the NYU BFA program's playwright's plays. (That sentence? Totally why I haven't applied to said program.) Juliana Avery wrote The Biographer, and last Saturday I and a group of about six worked to represent it on stage. It was something of a gruelling day, actually. We rehearsed from 2:00 to 6:15, then took the stage at 6:30, and with a five-minute intermission the play ran until 9:00ish. Juliana, to her great credit, is entirely aware that cuts are necessary to make the play function. We received some of those cuts at 5:00, and they were certainly good ones, so I trust she'll procede along those lines. Juliana developed this play under the auspices of NYU's Steinberg lab, a subsection of their BFA program that I have been lucky enough to be involved with, in-class (I often wish I could make a sustaining day job solely out of the work I do for that class, actually). The Biographer reminds me of the novel Starting Out in the Evening, in that the inciting action has to do with a somewhat successful writer in his twilight years allowing a young female writer to interview him for a biography, but thereafter it takes a very different series of turns. I played the writer in flashbacks to his thirties (it really is an extremely castable decade of my life I'm in), when he met his (lasting) wife. By and large, a supporting character. The scenes were brief by comparison, and the character emotionally young, for all his life experience to that point. Yet he was delightfully fleshed out. Juliana has a real talent for throwing no opportunity for character development away and, as an actor, I value that extremely.

Finally, straddling Thursday and Friday was The Things We Did and Did Not Do, by Theresa Parsell Giacopasi. I read scenes from this play twice in class with Theresa, and she was kind enough to cast me in the reading. I do mean kind, because the character I played afforded me the opportunity to play to the hilt one of my favorite types, and one I rarely have an opportunity to play, at that. Jackson is a would-be private eye, and I modeled him largely after Bogart's Marlowe, naturally. I realized in working on TTWDaDND (for those too-brief hours) a big aspect of that type that makes it particularly appealing to me, especially in the context of Theresa's play. I am a straight man (read: stage type, not sexual orientation [though, read that too, if it suits you]) and there's no getting away from it. That's not to say I don't have a sense of humor; it's just that my type is the straight guy. Playing a PI trapped in 21st century upstate New York allowed me to play it straight, and still be the one to deliver punchlines. Best of all, the key to the character is that he's a guy who's frustrated at how unaccomidating his world is to the kind of man he's most fulfilled being -- something of a familiar position for a struggling actor (not to mention a geek who wishes Batman were real and he were him). The play is a comedy with a healthy dose of melancholy conflict. Theresa even gave Jackson a saucy moll to bounce off of at the climax (Gentlemen: Kindly remove from the brains from the gutters.), perfectly portrayed by fellow First Look actor, Michele Vazquez. In short: Too much fun.

These drams of theatre can often serve only to whet one's appetite for more, if the material is interesting enough, and such is the case here. Assuming I am still headed for Italy some time this summer (which, at this point, is its usual dubious sort of assumption) I've got a limited amount of time in which to be cast in something that won't conflict with that trip. Which means I need to jump on the audition train. Poste haste. Which I hate.

So somebody hire me based on my unique writing style. Hire me as an actor, mind you. Ready . . . GO!
 
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