Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Last night was in all practical respects a minor rehearsal for me. I rehearsed only the scene wherein I play the murderer, who doesn't murder anyone. But it was a combat only rehearsal, which means i had even less to do. I literally steal a flash light from Fleance, and grab the collar of hist vest, out of which he squirms and runs away. That's my entire combat in this show.

Let me say, it's still important to run such a thing, as the kid playing Fleance was only recently added to the show. (I'd never worked the scene with the kid that had to quit.) Fleance deserves a feel for what will be happening, so despite how little I do in the scene compared to all of the others, (Fleance included) I'm glad I was there as much for his sake, if not more than for my own.

That is in fact one of the traits of this director; she takes no short cuts with combat, even the smallest moments of it. (Such as my own.)

More significant for the moment is the change to the venue. Our director, who was recently made one of the managers of the Black Box, has been given carte blanche to resign the entire space. As a result, the stage, seats, and the risers on which the seats were sitting for the last eight years have all been removed. The performance space is to be reoriented so as to face a different direction, and the stage is now about twice as wide as it is long, as per her vision of an ideal black box stage,. A "thrust round" she calls it.

Though I myself was very briefly named a manager of this same location, my influence quickly faded, and I no longer have any official role in the regular operations of Black Box Arts Center. So the place is what it is. (Or will be what it will be) regardless of my thoughts on the matter.

That does mean that I don't have thoughts on the matter, though, and with all due respect to the friends and colleagues with more influence than I, I'm not on love with the changes.

It will certainly be a fully functioning space, that in and of itself makes sense to me. (Though I'm not great at visualizing the final shape in my head.)  But, like old shoes, I was accustomed to the way things were for eight years. Things that I confess needed on some level some improvements, but are now totally gone.

And so quickly...only in a matter of days, the space in which I've done most of my acting over the last decade was destroyed and removed, both out of sight and out of mind. If you've done any community theatre at all, you know that a performance space can both aggravate the hell out of you, and somehow feel like home. For all of it's structural flaws at times, the place felt like home to me as an actor. Hell, I was one of the very people that helped build the space in the first place. (Before my influence faded.)

If it were up to me, I certainly would have remodeled; I don't think I would have rebuilt. I'd have done what I could to improve it, but it still would have felt like home. Though lots of friends still come in and out of it, it no longer feels like the "home" it once did.

Maybe it will again. I am supposed to be directing something there next year, (it's not known what yet) and I will of course be using the new version of the space. If I am in and out of their for another eight years, this new version will probably feel like a home.

And if it never does, it's not horrible. Not everywhere one works and creates can feel the same. I just perhaps would have preferred a bit more of the same in this situation to have survived.

I'm not bad mouthing anyone, or at least not trying to. I'm just a local community actor with a minority view on a major development. The actor in me remains committed to excellence on whatever shaped stage I'm using. That's the important thing.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Act by Act Makes the Play Go Round

It seems that when I have nightly rehearsals, I'm more likely to fall behind in the blog here. Sorry about that.

Though truth be told, there isn't a lot to go over that would be interesting for general consumption. Last week, as I said, I had rehearsal most nights, Monday through Thursday. Each night we worked an act of the five. I appear at least a bit in each act, so I was there each night.

There were once again several people missing for various reasons, and that makes it much more difficult to get an idea of where to stand and walk and such, especially since that was the gist of last week's rehearsals-seeing if we remembered the blocking, and if in fact it still worked. It seems the answers are yes, and mostly yes. I'm beyond ready, however, for the whole cast to be present...

Today is off book day, though I don't rehearse today. I am not officially off book for every section, but I am close. Close enough that by the time i next run any given scene, I'll have enough to call for a line as needed. (Which it will be.) I'll be working on my lines each day for a while.

Act IV Scene 3, with Macduff, (what I have dubbed "The England Scene" is bar none my biggest scene, in terms of number of lines and intensity. There is of course intensity in the scene after the king's murder, as that is Malcolm's father, of course. But that is more internal, not at all on the surface yet. That is in fact one of the reasons he chooses to flee, ""to show an unfelt sorrow is an office which the false man does easy." Yet that's a different, though possibly trickier type of intensity than the quasi-argument with Macduff.

Just today in fact I thought of another possible dimension to all of that. Malcolm, perhaps, is angry that Macduff "let" Duncan get murdered. It may or may not truly be Macduff's fault, and by the end, Malcolm clearly holds no grudge, but for at least a little while in the process, mightn't Malcolm wonder how one of the king's best soldiers could have allowed this to happen? I don't know for certain, but it's something I will think on a bit more.

Tonight, or rather today already, reconstruction of the Black Box itself begins. The stage platform and risers with chairs that have been in place since the establishment began as Full Circle Theater Company will be removed. I hope to get there to help with that either tonight or tomorrow. I look forward to rehearsing the play on the actual space we will be using.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nightly

Rehearsal almost every night this week. Last night we worked on Acts II and III. Monday, as you can probably guess, was dedicated to Act I.

Sadly, as seems to so often be the case with me this year,  some of my scene partner(s) are absent this week. I've not yet played the post-murder scene with the actress playing Donalbain. At all. And a shorter scene, wherein I play Murderer 3 also went incomplete last night, because of that actor's absence, along with his son's absence. (Both are in the scene.) It is what it is, and we've got plenty of time left, but I'm ready to start rehearsing with everyone. The post-murder scene is especially tricky for me...as I must be emotional but not too emotional. It's a crucial turning point for my character, for obvious reasons, and I can't slough it over or phone it in. Yet much of what I'll do in that scene will be based on interaction with Donalbain, I imagine. I can't fake my way through that, talking to an empty space.

Because of that, I can't comment much on how it went.

Not that we've been working so much on character this week. The goal for this week is to test out how well the blocking for each scene looks in conjunction with others in an act. See how well we remember it, and if anything needs changed. When this week was planned out, the director was under the impression that everyone would at last be available. They are not, as I've said.

So unavailable are some, that yet another actor has been replaced, after having neither attended rehearsals nor answered any of the director's emails since the start of this process. (Guess who this person has a scene with?)

Thankfully, those with whom I share my biggest scene are almost always there for rehearsal. Macduff and Ross and myself as Malcolm have worked the "England Scene" together a few times. That also comes up tonight. I look forward to working that again. I'm not off book for it yet, but I am very familiar with it.

I am mostly off book for the scene we worked on Monday and yesterday, though. I actually set my script aside for my first two scenes. Even though I'm not off book for the show as a whole, it always comes as a bit of a relief when I can do even a little bit without my script in my hand-the first step towards a full, free performance. We're supposed to be off book for the whole show on the 22nd, and that'll take some extra effort on my part, particularly with the scene I talked about with Macduff and Ross. But I'm working a bit on it every day, and I should be ready.

It's easier to get off book when it's time if you've been reading and reading the lines over and over on a regular basis, even if you've not been working on memorization. That's where I am now...having read through the lines more often perhaps than average since getting the part. I have the notion of what comes next in most cases, and need only a few small steps before the words fall into sequence.