Thursday, September 29, 2016

Final "Private" Rehearsals.

Tonight, Thursday, will be the final rehearsal for Macbeth after a long three month process. It will be, however, open to the public, free of charge, so it's quite possible some kind of audience will be present. It's not an opening, but depending on if anybody shows, it means the days of practicing the show in private are over. Our director reserves the right to stop and correct things as needed, and has warned potential observers that this may occur, but for all intents and purposes, the "true" rehearsal process ended last night, to me.

Last night and the night before, I am happy to say, were not seen as train wrecks by anybody. They did indeed go much better than Monday night. Both nights saw me make minor missteps, but nothing to derail the entire scene. With the knowledge that I am by no means perfect, I would say I am ready to perform my part.

Last night for the first time, we had lights. We don't do much in the way of light changes in this show, but running the scenes with the actual lighting took a few minutes to get used to. And in many ways it helped; in costume under the lights you realize all the more that it's time to eat.

Our director has said nothing about it, but I think the show, myself included, ran a bit low on energy in places the last two evenings. That's the only universal structural problem I noticed from my end. Even with the energy level, the show is down to a running time of 90 minutes. It's Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and our script is editing to be even shorter, but 90 minutes for Shakespeare is a nice clip. You can't accuse of dragging it out.

I wore a homemade beret last night. Not in love with it, but everyone has one, so it's not like it's just a me thing. That's why they call it a "uniform" after all.

The building itself looks good, too. Construction debris and other such things have been cleared out, ready to host audiences. It always feels so much better to me once a place is cleaned up. I always heard that the disconnect closed-circuit TV feed, that shows the stage on a monitor in the green room, could be up and running again tonight. I love that feature...no running around checking on cues every five minutes. Only local theatre that has that feature.

Brought some dirt from my yard to smear on my face for battle scenes. Had been using dirt there at the theatre, but it has tiny pieces of gravel in it, and I think I scratched myself a few times in the application process. It had it's advantages though; the original dirt was lighter, and took less time to apply. Dirt from my home is darker, and looked almost like paint once I wet it and put it on. I want it to look less deliberate than that. I corrected it later, but tonight I think I'll apply it differently to give it a more random look, as someone who's been fighting out in a field would have. I'll post a picture if I think of it.

As always with me, it's the little things on stage.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Train wreck."

That's how one of my cast mates referred to tonight's rehearsal, opening tech week. I wouldn't go as far as that, but it was rough in places to be sure.

I even totally botched a line I haven't botched in a while. (Though in my defense, it was the only line I botched on a night when there were all kinds of bumps in the road for the show.)

Friday, not everyone could show up for rehearsal, so we did trouble spots. Unfortunately, I was only in one of them, so I spent much of the evening in the theatre not being needed. Then we had off on Saturday and Sunday. By the time we started tonight, we'd gone three days without rehearsing the show, but I can't put the blame there because every week we have gone Friday, Saturday and Sunday without running the show as a whole.

So who knows why today went awry? It is what it is, and to be honest, I don't think it was that bad. I've been in far worse tech week rehearsals, that worried me much more than this one did. It shouldn't be repeated, but it's not a disaster either.

I smeared some dirt on my face for the two times I am in battle scenes. (Though I don't perform any combat on stage.) Looked good. I'll keep doing that unless I'm told not to by the director. I always felt like a guy who just had a shower, (which in fact I do before each rehearsal) as opposed to a guy who's been battling all day at the start of this play.

Been feeling a bit weird overall though about my place in this play. I must admit, that not only is my character, as written, somewhat off to the side, I myself personally feel off to the side as a person and actor in this production as often as not. This despite the fact I've known some of the people involved for years. This has been a recurring, even if not a constant feeling since the start of this whole experience. I can't explain it with certainty, but I think a need for a change of pace may be part of the issue.

I've been in three shows there this year, and 98% of my shows in the last 8 years have been there. Despite having some friends heavily involved in the running and current remodeling and rebranding of the place, it may be time to move along to somewhere else for a while. Even including gaps, I've spend more theatre time in this venue than any other so far in my life. I don't have the right personality to help run things, and I don't want to remain a silent foot solider in the arts forever either. My feelings of being on the outside of this production may just be a reflection of feeling the need to be branching out in general in the local arts world.

I'd like to direct a show there next year, now that they have remodeled, but I don't know if that will be happening. And in any case that is the future. The present is tech week of Macbeth, and I need to concentrate on that the most for the time being.

To that end, I need to make sure I don't miss lines again for the remainder of the runs like I did today. I believe I have another costume piece still to come this week that I want to get a look at. Plus there is all the ritual of tech week and opening weekend to prepare.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Best Run Yet."

Those are the words of our director, after tonight's rehearsal. one can either assume she lied, or that we did in fact do great tonight. I think the latter is the safer bet.

In fact I myself feel that last night and tonight have been my two best rehearsals so far in the process. Though I am always looking for ways to improve, if my performances go as well as my rehearsal performances did tonight, I would in most ways be satisfied.

Yet I'm also grateful to have the week to hone things even more.

I of course can't speak for anyone else in the cast, so I don't know how good each person thought of their own performances. And I don't see every moment. But once again, the director said it was our best night so far, so who am I to argue with that? She's the one that has too see it as a whole entity, after all. But it did feel solid.

And fast. Seems like both acts ran less than an hour. Very close to 90 minutes of performance time total. Yes, the script has been edited for length from the original, but that's still some fast tragedy there, folks. Assuming we keep that pace when we perform, I would think it very difficult for audiences to even have time to become bored.

Not that I don't get a little nervous before the "big" scene for Malcolm in our show, that being Act IV, Scene 3. But I am less nervous about it now than I was a week ago by quite a bit.

Costumes are in place as well, though I am supposed to get a beret at some point. I'd be thrilled if I didn't have to wear one of those, as I have already opted for changing hairstyles between "Prince" Malcolm, and the Malcolm that will soon be king. But if a beret it is, so be it, I suppose. I'll find a way to make it work.

Making Malcolm work. It sounds like the name of a lousy indie-film, but it is in fact an apt description of my overall mission in this play. No character on the stage, especially in Shakespeare is effortless, if you want it to be a good performance. Yet some characters just challenge the efficiency of our work, and for me Malcolm has been one of those. Still is to some extent. So much so that I considered "making him interesting" my prime objective in the start of this process. Make him real. He's a device in many productions, and I was determined not to let that be the case in this one. Work remains on this goal, but I'm willing to say I am on the home stretch of that journey. If nothing else I feel I have raised Malcolm from the level of pipe-laying poetry vessel to living, breathing character with desires. It's been the case all along, according to some of my cast mates, but it is only in the last two nights that I have begun to start feeling this internally in a way I want to, more often than not.

But I'm covering territory I have already covered here over the last several weeks. Suffice to say for now that though it be draining at times, I have at last begun to present a depth to Malcolm in my performances that I find acceptable. At times, beyond that.

One cast member mentioned to me and Macduff how much the enjoyed our big scene together. If others are noticing it, we are doing something right. Here's hoping audiences feel the same way.