A Little Inside


Last night was the first on-our-feet rehearsal for the debut comedy I'm performing in: Love Me. It's written by Jason Grossman, directed by Daryl Boling, and features two actors with whom I've worked before as well: Laura Boling (nee Schwenninger) and Ridley Parson. So in many ways, the show is a fairly epic reunion. And in others, I'm not acting with these people at all.

It's a unique role.

The play concerns itself with a struggling young actor-turned-playwright living in the city, looking for love, and the various misadventures this engenders amongst his friends and love interests. This fellow, Charlie, has an inner monologue that's realized aloud on stage. I play Charlie's inner monologue. Now, the play as it was originally written simply used a voice-over for the inner monologue (henceforth, "I.M."), but Daryl thought it would be interesting to have a physical personification, and presto: me. Jason's done some rewrites to accommodate this notion, but by-and-large we're in a process of discovery about how the concept might play out.

Last night was a very interesting, probably evenly-matched mix of exciting revelation and humbling reality check. On the one hand, this role allows for some tremendous and unconstrained acting choices; on the other, it practically demands such choices. My expressions can be delightfully hyperbolic when it works, since they're the instinctive responses of someone's private thoughts, but it's also a bit like acting in a vacuum. More than a bit. I was surprised to find, last night, just how tough that would be. We had a moment here or there at which someone would accidentally acknowledge me on stage, and it was always funny, but by the end of the evening I found myself wishing it happened more. It is tough to act alone.

It's also good practice, and particularly good practice for some of my clown training. Since much of what I.M. does is judge his analogue self, I'm also reminded of The Action Collective's recent workshop (see 4/29/10) with Raïna von Waldenburg. In other words, this role is an interesting convergence of my past experiences and my current perspectives on acting. It's also an uncompromising position for one who has been avoiding the bare-faced vulnerability of clown work for some time to be in, but sometimes that's exactly the sort of situation one needs to see past something. I hope that's the case here but, either way, there's nothing to do now but commit like crazy.

Perhaps the most interesting part of it all is learning what works and what doesn't in terms of working with my alter ego, played by Aaron Rossini. Last night we worked on the first two scenes, and the final one, so I was introduced and had a good scene of just me and ... uh ... me, then found out how it would be to play with others in the room, then how it all wraps up. Pretty good overview for a first rehearsal. I'm positively more at ease in the scene Aaron and I share alone, at this point, and even in that there were of course spectacular failures last night. I had imagined before we started that I would mostly be playing off of what Aaron chose for the character, but quickly discovered that it was going to be more of a tennis game than that.

Generally speaking, it was working great when I was like an amplified echo of his current moment, or a representation of his creeping, intrusive self-judgment as he moved in one direction or the other. Facing him is tremendous, and we have a really nice moment over a phone on a podium that I understand and helps me contextualize what we're aiming for in the rest of our scenes together.

There is a lot that challenges, too. For example, I am assumed to have an inherent connection to myself (of course) yet when Aaron and I are looking in the same direction . . . I can't look at him for cues as to how he's feeling. Also, in addition to being a bit energetically isolated from the cast, there's a strange Icarusian (is SO a word) polar danger of either hyperbolically stealing the scenes, or being painfully extraneous to them. All this, and I should be funny, too. YAY, CHALLENGES!!!1!

But seriously: Yay, challenges! These are good challenges, and I'm happy to have them, as well as the opportunity to try and be funny for strangers again. I'm working on a show that reunites me with old friends, tackles themes and conventions that are very personal to me and on top of all that, there's the free reign to be just as physical as I please. This is a good time for that. Let's live aloud, and let out our angels and demons.

Even if just a little, inside.
 
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