A Little More Inside


Because I know you diligently read every single item I post with great fervor and admiration, Dear Reader, you'll no doubt immediately reference from this title my post of May 13, 2010. Just in case you need refreshing: An link. Just in case you fear linkage: I'm in rehearsals for an original comedy called Love Me (an link [you see what I did there]) in which I play the central character's inner monologue embodied bodily on-stage. Wacky? Oui. Fun? Often. Challenging? No question about it.

Over the course of two weeks, things have progressed rather nicely. Because of various conflicts I have and the general nature of my role, I haven't been to about half of the rehearsals so far. Now things are gearing up and scenes are stringing together, so I'm called all the time and finding myself grateful for that. It helps me create connections with these fellow actors with whom I share stage time, but not necessarily any real scene work. The big exception to that is of course Aaron -- the real "me." Even he isn't allowed to look at me whilst on stage together, but I'm finding the tennis game of playing the same role from different perspectives growing more and more simpatico with him. There's a nice give-and-take, and we continue to find new techniques to make it work.

It's kind of funny, actually, how little I can solve these challenges by any kind of logical approach; it is far more productive to proceed instinctively. It seemed like such an artificial trope, this inner monologue (I.M.) incarnation, that I was inclined to set some ground rules as a first step. Address audience in this case, address Charlie in that, don't manipulate objects, etc. As with regular ol' acting, however, my instincts prove much smarter than my rational brain. The most important thing is to keep a flow of ideas (no matter how ragingly inappropriate) coming so more can catch in the sieve. This is an old acting lesson--and one I just have to keep on relearning, it seems--but particularly important when one is playing someone else's id or super-ego.

Of course, some conventional acting wisdom is less helpful, if not downright disruptive. For example, staying in eye contact with your scene partner as much as possible. Also, in many cases, we want to see an actor fighting his emotions in order to achieve some goal; this is the idea behind crying on stage, the point not being the tears, but to keep working through that crying. However, when you have an alter ego playing out your practical or scenic obligations, the best thing you can do to tell the story is flat-out show his hidden or outwardly controlled emotions. I jump around and shout a lot in this play, and I just have to keep reminding myself that such no-nos are exactly and precisely what I'm there to do.

There are a few scenes in the play when we get to blur these rules in entertaining ways. For example, Aaron and I come a lot closer together in a scene in which he's hammered drunk, to the extent that we are literally back-to-back, holding one another up for our elaborate drunken swaying. At this stage of rehearsal, the ensemble is getting comfortable enough for more physical choices and choreography in general, and this is of course a favorite stage of things for yours truly. From the start we are now establishing that not only do I have physical control over Aaron, but sometimes he over me as well (when he's particularly using his imagination, for example). There are also three or four moments in which I get to initiate some of his subconscious gestures by directly operating him like a puppet. There's great fun to be had in these moments when they're more adversarial. At such times, Aaron has to justify in the "real" world why he tripped or bit his nails at a particular moment, and heck: that's just fun stuff.

In terms of my off-stage work, I really should be jogging and stretching more. I'm not in the worst shape, but my exercise for a while now has been predominantly silks work with the amazing Cody Schreger, and there's not a whole lot of shimmying involved in Love Me (pity, really). What there is a lot of is running around and contorting and falling. The trouble is that this all happens in rehearsal until 10:30 or so, and so, when I wake up at 6:00...no running for me. Must get on it now, because June 10th is just over that hill...
 
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