Sunday, January 29, 2017

24 Hour TheatreFest: Conclusion

Yesterday was the day, and it was a success. I covered how it went over on my regular blog, so forgive the laziness of this, but I will just link to that from here, so you can get an idea of how it went, and what it meant for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

24 Hour TheaterFest!

Wow. Happy much belated New Year. I suppose time got away from me in regards to updating. There is a big reason, though.

To begin with, the local production of Glengarry Glen Ross, which I was supposed to begin rehearsing right after New Year's and perform in February, has been cancelled. I had been planning to update with that experience throughout most of this month. Yet due to a changing work schedule of one of the actors, it could no longer go on.

There is talk of trying to get the same cast together for an August performance instead, with rehearsals starting in June. I am unable to commit to something that far into the future, so my connection with the project is up in the air for now. I will know better as we get closer, and of course I will keep you updated.

It was a first for me to be so close to starting regular rehearsals of something only to have it cancelled. I'd already been reviewing lines and recorded myself giving them. I will probably still look over the script here and there; if the show does come back and I can be involved, I've never had 6 months to review lines before.

Now that what isn't happening is out of the way, let me tell you about what is happening. Starting tomorrow, in fact.

I’ll be taking my writing skills over to the Black Box Arts Center. (Where I do most of my acting these days.) I’ll be writing a one-act play. In one night.
I won’t be the only one pressed for time. The auditions, writing of the script, all rehearsals and the one and only performance of each script will be taking place within a 24 hour period. (Hence the title of this post, and the event itself.)
Despite my experience in theater, I haven’t written plays very often so far. I wrote a one-act play for a contest years ago, and didn’t win. I currently have an early draft of a regular length play I keep trying to have a reading for. And I have the idea of a stage play that I am still doing research for. But in none of those cases have I had to crank out something in the course of a single night!
There is of course a certain advantage to such pressure cooker situations; the constraints will promote creativity. Much like Nanowrimo, there will be no time to overthink what I’m writing.
Then there is accountability. It will have to get on the page, ready for actors to read and (in theory) memorize the following morning. Other people, from directors to actors to the eventual audience are counting on me (and the other playwrights) getting this done.
Granted, this is not generally the best way to produce theater in a normal setting, but this is not a normal setting. It’s an exercise, a stunt, an experiment, and it’s just plain crazy, but hopefully will be fun also.
As with most drama, the key of course is a conflict. Somebody wanting something and for a time unable to get it. There are exceptions to this formula, even within my own writing, but for something like this, best to stick with the basics. For a one-act, in general personalities of characters should remain uniform. That is to say less time for catharsis and arc. Hence, what they say is of prime importance. To me in drama, but especially in the one act, is it the lines that make a script stick in the mind most. We’ll find out if I’m correct tomorrow.
I have no idea how many people will show up. I also have no idea who will be in the play I will be writing. Everyone who shows up is promised a role in one of the plays, so I don’t even know how many characters my play will have. I should be ready for anything, I imagine. But as for the casting, I’ll be leaving that mostly to my friend and director. I’ll provide input naturally, but I think this exercise will be most fun and most interesting if each segment of the process is as independent as possible.
Maybe what i come up with will be a usable script, (with more deliberate edits) in the future. And maybe it won’t. But whatever happens, this is the sort of thing I think writers should open themselves up to from time to time. The out of the ordinary, the weird, the crazy.
Check back in a few days from now for an update on how all of this went!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Belated Send off to Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story

So it's Friday evening, and the show ended on Sunday afternoon. It's been a sort of distracted week for me, and I am just now sitting down to post the summary.

It was a sold out crowd, just as the previous Sunday was. Yet the crowd was not as enthusiastic as the first full house we had. They were not a dead audience by any means, but they didn't laugh as much or respond with as much to the show, or after the show.

To be fair, I don't think we did quite as well for them as we did the previous sell out either. There were a few trip ups, (I myself made a very minor one) and I think the energy was down.

That being said, it was still a decent, even if not amazing conclusion to a show that in many ways was different.

It began just a few days after Macbeth ended, so in some ways it felt like an odd extension of that show for the first few rehearsals. This is especially true given that everyone but one person was also in Macbeth. The total rehearsal time was only a month, (and coming after a show that had three months to rehearse, that was an adjustment for certain.)

I wore my base costume to the theatre and home every night, since I owned the whole thing.Because of this I was actually rarely in the dressing room. Being in the dressing room is a touchstone of the community theatre experience, and things feel off for me when it is missing. I kept my coat and personal items in there during the show, but that's about it. Never dressed or undressed in there during the show. And while I had my usual picture of Olivier there at what would have been my seat in the dressing room, I never taped it to the mirror as is my custom.

Due to the nature of the show, the only time I was in the green room was before the show, and intermission; nobody was off the stage long enough in this production to relax in the green room during the performance. That too made the whole show seem faster, and less official as well, (though it was the same for Night of One-ders.

Also, I have to say that in some ways, despite the changes in venue, script and cast, it sort of feels like a production of A Christmas Carol is never quite over for me. This was my sixth production of this story in some form, and no doubt there will be more. Many of the lines, and certainly the characters are the same for each one, and so though I still have to get off book each time I help tell this story, it sort of feels like a mere hiatus between such tellings. I've not been in this version of the story before, but once we got started on it, it didn't feel like it had been that long ago since I had been in a version. (Though it has been about three years, I think. Maybe more.)

Which is why I am almost always willing to be a part of this story on stage. The time may come when, for whatever reason I have to decline to be a part of a production of A Christmas Carol, but it hasn't yet. So timeless is the story, so loved by actors and audiences, and so tied in with a holiday that so many people revere that when in A Christmas Carol on stage, I feel part of Christmas as well as part of a show. (And I get to start celebrating the holiday a little earlier than most people when I am in a show like this.)

So, I do bid goodbye to this version, but it is only a matter of time, perhaps only a matter of less than a year before I help tell the story again.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, everyone.