Wednesday, January 03, 2018

T'was Nine Nights After Christmas...

If you have followed this blog recently, you know I have left out a major update; how the one night reading performance of "T'was the Night Before Christmas" went. The truth is a lot of unpredictable things went on not after the show, and after Christmas itself, that updating on this blog got left quite far behind.

I will say, simply that the reading did go well. It was, in fact, a packed house. Most of them were children hoping to talk to our Santa Claus, who stayed afterward for pictures and such. Nonetheless, everyone present, parents as well as children seemed to enjoy our short presentation.

There is talk of presenting similar short readings, while acted out by others, for different stories throughout the year. I'd be in favor. I'd even like to be the sort of go-to narrator of such productions. Not for ego's sake, but I just feel like "that guy." The wing-back chair, the glass of wine the (fake) fireplace. The story telling aspect. Not all such possible reading would be as short as this one was, (ten minutes or so) but all of them would require minimal time investment from audience and cast/crew.

I'd never want to give up being in full shows. I sort of wish I were in one now, in fact, as a means to recover from some recent chaos I have been through at home. But being in real shows doesn't preclude the possibility of these little story tellings here and there. All of course would depend on the management of the Black Box Arts Center, but they have already expressed a similar hope for the future anyway.

Not every story is for every actor. But every actor, every theatre person in fact, a storyteller. Different jobs help with different aspects of the stories, but it is all pursuant to story. People in theatre only enhance their ability to tell the big stories by showing a willingness to tell the small, fast ones well.

Perhaps 2018 will allow for a possibility of more such stories between the bigger stuff. (Though all of us involved in this one would hope for just a tad more rehearsal time next go around.)

You'll know right after I know, loyal blog readers, if I'm involved in such a thing again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

T'was the First Time We Ran It...

As you can expect, the first attempt to run this short reading of T'was the Night Before Christmas was coupled with snags and difficulties. When you are in theatre for any length of time, you know that the presentation that is chosen, set up, rehearsed and performed with zero difficulties does not exist, even for productions as modest as this.

Surprisingly, the use of a real live dog was not one of the bigger problems; it remained seated at my feat, once positioned there, for the entire evening. Not just a run through or two, but the whole evening until "released" by his owner. A trained dog, though not in theatre. I won't be foolish enough to assume that this will go as well on the show night, but it is a good sign. To the best of my memory, I've not been in a show with a live animal before.

Even with problems and delays, we estimated that the presentation only take about 7 minutes as it stands now. Not that there is anything wrong with that in its own right, but it took less time than the director thought it might. Less than I thought, even. I realize it is a short poem, but even with that I thought we were looking at maybe a 20 minute show or so. Not the case. Concern was expressed about having people come all the way into the theatre to see such a short show.

We rehearse again, (and for the final time) on Friday. We discussed having me, the narrator, read the poem in a different manner than I had been doing so at first. That, combined with the theory of more stage business for the "family" and Santa Claus should result in padding the time a bit. We will be testing a few new formats on Friday.

I stand by what I said in my previous entry, however. One-off readings and quasi-impromptu performances such as these are worth it. Any given one may not be very good, because even these small events need dedication and patience. As I said, none of them are going to go off without any problems. No show, no matter how small can be "thrown together" without care. Yet even with that, a willingness and ability to pepper a season with smaller fare such as this keep a company limber in a way. Practice with costumes and securing the needed objects on a short deadline, which can lead to greater efficiency in the big shows.

And actors who have little other time to spare can feel as though they are still part of the community by taking part in such events.

And charities get non-perishable food donations out of the deal, which is never a bad thing, I dare say.

It being a Christmas theme makes people all the more willing to accept it for what it is, I think.

Friday will be a long evening with quite a bit of work to get ready for Saturday afternoon. But worth it. I have confidence in it being fun for all involved in the end.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Actually, it will be two nights before Christmas. And really more like afternoon.

But semantics aside, I will be participating in a one-night only staged reading of Clement Moore's classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which of course is commonly known as "T'was the Night Before Christmas. As usual with me the last few years, I'll be doing this at the Black Box Arts Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

It was all a sort of last minute project. My friend that runs the BBAC was talking with a newer friend of mine who has never directed before, and they concocted this project. It will be my newer friend's directorial debut.

There were no auditions for this, only recruitment, given the time constraint. I was given the choice of being "Pa" or the Narrator, and I chose the latter. With one exception, I'll be the only one speaking during the show; I'll be reading the poem as others act out the scene on the stage next to me. I even have a small cozy nook from which to do my part.
 a small cozy nook from which to do my part.
We'll rehearse this twice before we perform it on Saturday afternoon. Maybe more than that, as we can probably fit in more than one run through a night. The point being, it won't take long to get set.

If you've read this blog before, you know I usually jump at the chance to take part in staged readings. They can never replace regular stage productions, but readings are good for all actors to take part in sometimes, if you ask me. A small helping of the meat of performing, without having as much "green vegetables" of rehearsing, and no memorizing. Less time, less energy, but nearly as much fun as a standard show, if you want it to be.

So hopefully this will be a happy reading for all, and for all a good night. I'll keep you posted this week on how it's going, loyal blog readers.