Sunday, December 30, 2007

Archival Arrival

Did you enjoy the cute title?

What does it refer to?

Earlier this week, (I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, as I have not had much of a chance to get back here to the blog during this holiday week), a friend of mine from college sent me a video. A dvd transfer of a VHS recording I had never in my first lead role ever!

In the fall of 2000, I played Leon Trotsky, in David Ives' Variations on the Death of Trotsky.

This dvd was a taping of that performance.

In fact it was a taping of three out of the four performances that that show gave.

I did quite well, I have to say.My projection could have been stronger in some places, and I spoke a bit faster than I do now...but otherwise not a bad job at all. I remembered having, fun with the show, remembered many people laughing most of the nights, and I remember the very obvious light error halfway through the one performance. (The best one, naturally.) And though I was proud of myself at the time, and have remained so, not until now, over 7 years later did I have the privilege of actually watching myself in the show.

Archival footage is a tricky business. In some ways I like to look at it. In other ways, I loath it. But in this case, the play was a particularly special experience for me, and I am joyed to have it saved for posterity.

Thanks to Lauren, the friend who sent it to me this week, and who directed me in the piece 7 years ago. =)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Options..aka. THE Option...

I do not recall any other point in my acting life where so many options presented themselves at the same time.

I recently got an email from one of the producers of "All in the Timing", one of the founders of the Full Circle Theatre Company that I was involved in earlier in the fall. They have decided to make their next production..."The Lion in Winter"!!

This is fantastic news! If you know me, or have read this blog, you will know that it is one of my favorite scripts of all time..with Geoffrey being one of my non-Shakespeare dream roles. (Though I would be happy with just about any role in that show..well, maybe not John.)

Anyway, this was a change from what the company had originally planned to do next year. Also, it would seem they have a new venue for that production...a local college stage. So, it was inevitable that I would eventually make the choice to at least try out for it. They said auditions will be held sometime during the first week of the year.

This means, however, that I had to totally opt out of auditions for "Rumors" over at the Opera House. If I had gotten into that, there was no practical way to be in both that, and in "Lion in Winter", if I ended up getting into both. Not wanting to give up the chance to be in "Lion", I skipped "Rumors". Kind of sad, but, getting into "Lion" would probably makeup for it totally.

And my options are still not dried up, after "Lion". If I do not get into that, there are still the two auditions that the Apollo Civic Theatre is putting on in January, as mentioned in previous posts.

So my hope is between three auditions in January, I should be lucky enough to get into at least one of them.

And such are my theatre adventures this last week before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Third Option...

Or, I can try out for the Apollo's first show next year..."Play ON!" A comedy about actors trying to put on a bad show. Sounds right up my ally...any actor loves to make fun of being an actor.

I know the director...and though the have auditions a few weeks before Andersonville Trial, I could perhaps try out for both, and in case I do not get into the first, try to be in the second.

More things to ponder...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

Well, loyal blog readers, it is that time again. Time to decide between two shows that I could potentially audition for.

Actually, the decision is coming earlier than I expected. I figured the rest of the year would be free of auditions, but not so.

The Old Opera House will be auditioning for Neil Simon's "Rumors" a week from today. Now, I have not read Rumors but I am familiar with other Simon works, and I like them. Plus, I am usually in comedies, and I am of course familiar with the Opera House. Plus, I have never worked with, or even met, as far as I know, the director. I have been meaning to try to branch out to do new things with new people in theatre in the coming year.

However, the Apollo Civic Theatre will, in January, be having auditions for "The Andersonville Trial", and that has appealed to me for several reasons. I have not read it, but i know it is a drama, and better still, a court room drama. Not to mention it would also be a director I have never worked with, as well as a theatre that I have never acted in. (Though I song there once for a talent show.)

So, the uncertainties of getting into either play aside, both would offer their advantages and disadvantages. And though it may be mathematically possible to try out for and be in both, if cast, I do not think it is a good idea. There would be some rehearsal overlap, and that probably would work against me for either show. Though the Andersonville play would take place several months later, even though auditions would only be a few weeks after those at the Opera House.

So, that is where I am now. Maybe I should try to read one or both before I make a decision. That is usually how I do it, but it is hard to obtain scripts from either location these days.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Maryland Shakespeare Festival

Last night at last minute, I decided to go into nearby Frederick, Maryland, to watch what was billed as a unique theatrical experience. In that, I was not disappointed.

The Maryland Shakespeare Festival is the state of Maryland's only year round professional Shakespearean Company, and they recently god their selves a new home, in as I mentioned, Frederick, Maryland. It is the old meeting hall of a local church, which apparently was built to almost the exact same specifications as one of the original venues for which Shakespeare wrote his plays, (balcony included.)

The reading is part of a series of reading where the MSF recruits professional actors from all over the country to participate in a reading...the actors have minimal costumes and props, and the actors hold their scripts. There is little rehearsal time, and the goal is to bring the audience in, according to the MSF, "to play along with our actors. They argue that by removing the fourth wall, and eliminating fancy sets, costumes, or even a dimming of the lights, the players are able to draw audiences in to the language of the Bard, in a manner similar to the way he would have intended centuries ago.

I suppose one can go back and forth, academically on whether or not Shakespeare is any better suited in such a venue, as opposed to merely different. That chestnut aside, I can say it was a unique and enjoyable experience.

I am terrible with estimating dimensions, so I will not try to do alot of that. I will say that there were about 100 folding chairs present, arranged in a "thrust" configuration. (Though of course not technically so, as there was no stage...only floor space.) The point being there was seating on three sides of the performance area. There was also some sort of divider to cordon off a back stage area for the actors when needed, though they spent most of their time sitting in chairs in the back of the performance area, clearly visible to the audience.(In all likelihood not a Shakespearean device, but one that made sense, given the situation.)

The artistic director came out and explained what was happening, and what the plans are for the future of the space. (This being only the second performance the company has given in their new venue.) There was little doubt in my mind that she, and indeed the company as a whole is very enthusiastic about bringing Shakespeare to a new audience through a very new way of presenting him, in a sort of "what is old is new again" sense of irony.

I am not altogether unfamiliar with thrust performing.Nor is the concept of interacting with an audience whilst performing totally strange to me. So despite some required adjustment time from my "proscenium/invisible fourth wall" mindset, i was prepared for the possibilities.

It seems clear to me that not everyone in the audience was as willing or able to embrace this unique notion.

The center piece of the play, of course, is Richard III, played with bombast by one Robert Leembruggen, a professional actor out of the Olney Theatre. Written as the centerpiece ofthe play that bears his name, Richard should be in this play, perhaps more than in others, a scene stealer in every sense of the word. Mr. Leembruggen did not fail in this, though he was matched at times by the professional talents of other classical performers from as far away as Seattle, Washington.

I do not wish to give a review of the actual performance, so much as the experience of being in such a space watching such a thing. But I will say that with Mr. Leembruggen center stage, the talent of the company as a whole was evident, but more evident in some than in others.

Indeed, it would be hard to judge the overall performance quality of any given person in such circumstances. The company will be preforming standard rehearsed production in the future, and my assessment here are based only on this reader's theatre concept.

It was clear that every single actor in the play, including Mr. Leembruggen, struggled at times with moving about, and giving some at times very intense performances, while still tied to the script. Any actor will tell you, (as I have, many times, loyal blog readers) that the moment when the script is out of one's hands is the moment of greatest theatrical creativity for the actor in most cases. There is a reason i is known as being "tied"to the script, and though their professional training allowed most of these players to present a reasonably nuanced performance with "little to no rehearsal time", that attachment to said script was at first awkward to watch, and difficult to get past.

But get past it I did, as I watched what is possibly Shakespeare's most convoluted tragedy for newcomers unfold before, (or in this case around) me.

The claim made by the MSF in their advanced marketing for the events is true to a great degree...a reading, with a bare minimum of props does require the audience to hone in more acutely on what is being said, and how it is being delivered, due to the lack of distraction and spectacle provided by some modern playhouses that put on the Bard's works. I myself have pondered the idea of staging an amateur reading for these very reasons myself on numerous occasions, and hope to still do so. That being said, the venue, thrust staging, and the newness it provides to most average casual modern theatre goers, mixed with the language of Shakespeare, and a very complicated play, read directly from the script which the actors moved about with, occasionally lessoned the experience.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it could potentially lessen the experience of some patrons uninitiated into Shakespeare, or thrust staging. I myself have read this play, and others many times over, and though this by no means makes me a more cultured person, it by definition made me more prepared to follow the story, and the nature of it's presentation than someone who has not chosen to read the play before seeing such a production. (Indeed a few people left at the intermission, and it would not surprise me if this were the reason, judging from what I gathered of them before the play started. But that somewhat unfair personal assessment is a digression.)

This I think was most sadly present during times when I think the players were attempting to rouse the audience to in fact, in the words of the artistic director before hand "come play". Speeches, actions, shouts, all of which seemed pregnant with the potential for audiences to cheer, or hiss, or cry "Amen", were met mostly with silence.Again, I think, though I would by no means swear to this, that there may have been too much unconventional atmosphere to swallow at one time for some people. As an actor myself, I could not prevent feeling sorry for the players at these moments, though, being professional, I am sure they have no real qualms about it.

However, when actors interacted one on one with an audience member, as the script permitted, this concept of interaction went over much better. Mr. Leembruggen's Richard did most of the role is tailor made for interactive soliloquies which work well, even today with a modern audience. More so than would they introspective soliloquies of Hamlet, say. And to that end, various time's "Richard" would seek the approval of an audience member, sometimes sitting next to them, as he unhatched his latest plan, and this generally went over well.

I myself was pleased to offer His Highness a congratulatory handshake and wink, as the "was ever woman in this humor woo'ed" was directed toward me, at one point in the piece. i do hope that such interactions of mine helped keep the balance for Mr. Leembruggen, when faced with blank stares, and no attempts at all to engage him, as did happen when he asked a fellow member of the audience directly, not once but twice, "Is the king dead?"

Crickets met him, despite being within a foot of this person. I very nearly shouted, "no", as a professional courtesy. I know I said that the unique aspects may have overwhelmed some, but when a question is asked of you by "the king", how hard is it to shake one's head in the negative?

Yet the curtain call brought sustain applause from the audience of about 30 people. I would say that most were in the 50's and 60's, though a few my age were present here and there. I have to say I did expect that; an unfortunate commentary on the lack of interest the Bard tends to ignite in modern younger people.

So is the experiment a success? Has the Maryland Shakespeare Festival accomplished it's self proclaimed mission of making Shakespeare's works more accessible through interactive staging, in an intimate venue? My judgment is well on it's way to doing so, if not quite there yet. Being professional, I am sure does not mean being perfect, and unable to learn and improve. The enthusiasm most of them seems to display would seem to guarantee that much as time goes on.

If the opinions of this theatre student, and self paced scholar of Shakespeare should mean anything to them, I would advise that they do not advertise these readings as being quite as different in their delivery of these works as they do sometimes, ("This is not your grandmother's Shakespeare", they say, but if they are not careful, it could still be seen as such to the masses.)

I would also perhaps advise a few more rehearsals for the staged readings, given their confession that there were so few. In some places it showed.

Finally, i would provide more of a "warning" if you will as to the interactive nature of the Elizabethan theatre they are trying to capture. Though the artistic director did mention that this would be happening, this was a very brief time before the show started, and not addressed at great length. Perhaps a sign, or hand out in the lobby, or a full page spread in their website explaining this nuance of such a place to curious newcomers would serve the purpose of encouraging more interaction than I witnessed. Or perhaps a little warm up to the notion, say 15 minute before curtain, as opposed to two, would help get more people into that "come play with us" mentality that the MSF clearly wants to bring back.

This, and as I said time, mixed with their continued enthusiasm should, in the end, if they really want it, bring about a product that truly is not "your grandmother's Shakespeare." They are thinking and feeling all of the right things at the Maryland Shakespeare Festival, and that is more than I can say about alot of companies, from my perspective.

I joined their e-mailing list so as to inquire about possible future volunteer opportunities...and I would not do that if I saw no potential in the theory.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mixed Emotions.

Final show today. On the one hand, our biggest crowd yet, with about 25 people. On the other hand, probably our least responsive crowd. Didn't feel the magic I talked about last night at all, I am sad to say.

But of course I gave it my all anyway.

Very small stumble moment for Philip Glass that lasted about a nano-second. Other than that, perfect. Of all the things about being part of this company's first ever show, i think I am most proud of how far we came on that piece, from two weeks before opening, until tonight.

Indeed, with most of the plays, the director noted as we were striking that, as usual, the show had started to peak, to really hit its stride, just as we were ending the run. Sad, but true. However all may not be lost, as he advised all of us to keep our lines pretty fresh in our heads, as there is more than one offer to have us potentially take the show to other venues. Possibly for a fee. We do not know yet, but we should in the next few weeks. That would be exciting.

As for me, I was listening to someone at the end of the show mention to our producers that it is next to impossible to get a new theatre company started, for several reasons outside of money. Firstly, he claimed that in the age of CGI movies, few people want to see something done live on stage, with little to no effects, when they could lay down ten bucks, and watch a movie where everything blows up perfectly before their very eyes thanks to computers.

I think this is a silly assumption. Live theatre and movies are clearly different creatures, and whatever problems community theatres have, i think very little of them can be blamed, directly or indirectly on the advent of CGI. If anything the opposite is movies rely more and more on simply "blowing things up", without bothering to write a script, or have anyone say or do anything in the movie, people thirst more for engagement in a plot, and with its characters. Films do that sometimes, but good live theatre can take up the slack. Even community theatre, as professional theatre is starting to be guilty of the same sort of spectacle over substance crime that plagues Hollywood these days.

Secondly this man says that there are too many community theatres in the area, and that the community, though active, has spread its talent/audience pool too thin...those who would come see one company are too busy performing in another company, etc. I also disagree with this, as many places nearby have more than one community theatre within their boundaries, and all do quite well. The reason is because they have stayed around, believed in their mission of open, fair minded community theatre, and not let other people determine their course. The same can be said for this one, I feel.

Yes, if the new company, or any new company can forms a niche,wherein the perform unusual or attention getting shows, success will come faster, perhaps. However, there is danger in relying in a niche alone, as one paints oneself into a corner, and must forever then follow that particular path/genre. I feel that quality is the number one indicator of success for a theatre company. If a company is consistently dedicated to providing a quality experience, with dedicated actors, people will come for the performances. Fewer at first, but nothing will enhance the reputation of a company more than the quality of work it does. The company I have worked for the last few weeks provided a high quality show, where everyone from top down was equally committed. If it stays like that, (and there is no reason to believe that it will not), time will be the only barrier between the Full Circle Theatre Company, and a well respected, talent attracting reputation.

I told the company, and will repeat here, that I was proud to be a part of the launch of this group, and look forward to working with them again.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Top of Our Game

The initial disappointment on the part of some in the cast concerning a low turnout for this evenings show was quickly neutralized this evening. For despite their being only 13 out of 35 seats filled, it was by far out best crowd of the run.

Very responsive. Open to being brought into the show. Laughed alot. I have said it a million times hereon the blog, and a million times before I even had a blog, but it bears repeating...the energy of an audience for a show is a mysterious force that can make or break a production.

And you can never know just what kind of energy you will have, because size and energy are not directly proportionate. But you can feel it as an know that you have the attention of the entire audience...even when you do not hear them laugh, or look directly at them. If you pay attention to that feeling, it feeds an actor, and allows him to come up with new things on the spot, at polish all of the old things with a shine that only pleases the audience even more.

That, loyal blog readers, was tonight.

My two shows are the last of the evening. With no intermission, there is always the chance the crowd will be antsy by the time I come on. But not tonight. From the moment we started The Philadelphia you could tell everyone in the place embraced the concept. When they embrace the concept, and "get" what it is that is happening, instead of just observing it happen, you really can do lots of things with the piece. (Or any piece.) And I certainly felt the creative energy bounce right back at me.

Everyone backstage commented on how much better it was. The best yet.

The same with the dreaded Philip Glass. That too was the most flawless we have done, I would say. Instead of laughing all throughout, I think the audience sort of took it all in...afraid they might miss something if the blinked. (Which is not an unreasonable concern with that piece.) But when we blacked out at the end, you could tell they loved it. (Assuming you missed the aura of, "this is crazy but I love it" radiating from them during the show, which I doubt anyone missed.)

I have been happy to be a part of this show from the start. I will not deny that. But even if I had not thought much about it before tonight, tonight would have made the whole thing pretty much worth it. It proved that you can be professional, and reach an audience, even when you are knew, your venue small, and your ticket sales lower than preferred.

Indeed, one guy came up to me and said he loved the smallness of the venue, because it brought everybody into the show in a way that cannot happen easily in bigger venues. I agree with him, and look forward to future production of this company, whether I am in them, or not.

One more least officially. There is talk of us traveling to a few local cafe for some engagements. Nothing official. But if it ever become official, you will be the first to know, loyal blog readers.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pickup Rehearsal

Last night there was a pickup rehearsal for All in the Timing. Several people weren't there, and we also learned one of our actors quit the show! It is unclear why, but as his part was a small one, he will easily be replaced by one of the other actors in the production.

As for the rehearsal itself, both plays I am in went well. The Philadelphia was first, and in the words of the director, "you've still got it." Good to know I have not lost anything since Sunday afternoon. =)

Philip Glass, I am not lying when I say, was PERFECT. The best run through of that ever. No pauses, no stepping on of others' lines, no dropping. I release that doing it perfectly at pick up rehearsal does not guarantee we will be just as perfect for the two remaining performances. But what it does prove is that we have it in us to do it flawlessly, haven done so once, last night. So that knowledge should go a long way in improving our actual performances this weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, so far there are 20 or so reservation, out of 35 seats for Saturday night. That is quite a plus. Here's hoping this Saturday goes even better than last Saturday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Matinees, The World Over...

Are mostly the same. The crowd was an ok size today, but their reactions were minimal. They laughed at places, as most crowds do, but they were quite dead. Coming off of last night's crowd, a bit of a let down. But as I said, a matinée is a matinée.Half thetime when people asked me how a show I am in went on any given Sunday, my answer is actually, "It was a matinée."

On the whole, I hate them, as you who read this blog know. Not really sure what the point of them is.

That aside, there seemed to be even fewer mistakes tonight. Though there was a small bump or two in Philip Glass, I am more than happy with how it went. Considered how complicated it is, and how few times we have gone over it, it's just this side of amazing that we do as well as we do with it.

All the other plays were the same story...a but lower on energy than lastnight, but with few mistakes, as far as I could tell. Afterwards we had to strike the set, as the building will be in use between weekends. That is a pain, and will be a pain to put together again Saturday evening, (The first chance we will have to do it.) But it was not as time consuming as I thought.

And in many ways the prep time and extra work paid off. We got all the windows covered in black plastic, and it was virtually night time in there when we had the lights off. Always a good thing, when you can keep the much hated sunlight out during a matinee...

We are now counting on good word of mouth for next weekend. I am doing my part by once again mentioning it here, to any of you who may live nearby.

That's all for now. Not much really to report. But tell your friends!~

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quite the Opening!

Not only for the show, but a whole new theatre company!

There were some differences and inconveniences that take some getting used to, given the venue. There was no real private area to get ready or collect my thoughts. The doors were open, and some people in their seats when I got there. That is a first. But I just strapped on the old mp3 player, and paced
alot around the churchyard for a half an hour or so. I got in the groove, and all was well.

Also, the back stage area, (which we had to create) is quite tiny. So there is not
alot of room to move. You are either sitting, or on stage. And with no intermission, that's a lot of sitting.

Particularly for me. My two plays are the final two plays of the evening. Which means I have to wait just over an hour to get on. A little hard to do in a cramped setting.

But out of 35 seats, about 20 people came, and they loved us! Very responsive crowd. Laughed a lot. And in a space that small, a lot of laughter really fills the room quite nicely.

Also, our lighting instruments stayed on the whole time. This was initially a concern, as they had not always done so.

There were no major mistakes in
The Philadelphia. Philip Glass did hit a tiny snafu. But so tiny I can promise you the audience did not catch it. I know this because even I wasn't sure what happened, and I am in the play. I may have made the mistake, or it may have been someone else. I do not know. The point is we kept the rhythm, and not a soul knew anything had happened.

So the much labored over
Glass has officially been performed successfully.

I said this before...this is, in many ways, acting at its purest. The small venue, make shift set, improvised props, etc. It all requires an actor to be extra sharp with his actual craft. Not that having great sets and props in a huge theatre kills acting talent. But in a play and a place like this one, you can't afford even the slightest luxury of relying on the externals. You have to have it all inside you, because that is all there is.

I was determined, as soon as I crossed the river into West Virginia, (about 5 minutes before the venue), that I was going to concentrate only on being an actor. Money did not matter. The size of the crowd, the venue, previous problems with the show. Nothing could be done about that by the time I crossed the river this evening. I knew the only thing left to do, was become a cast of one, within myself, and muster the determination to be dedication wholeheartedly to the show, regardless. And that is what I did, and I think it paid off.

It must have been what everybody else did as well...for there was not a single weak spot in the whole show. All 7 plays went smashingly, as they say. I do not think that Full Circle Theater Company could have asked for a better opening. I am very proud to have been there, and look forward to the three remaining performances. (Word of mouth really should help for next week.)

If this is the level of quality this company insists on all the time, it will not be long before it is a highly recognizable theatrical group in the area...adding its name to the other established companies.

Here's to Full Circle.

Unexpected Rehearsal

So I had rehearsal tonight at the director's house. I wasn't supposed to be there, but my boss called me and canceled my night at work, so I was freed up to go to rehearsal.

It was basically a muted affair, as final rehearsals sometimes are, even when they are not in people's homes. I do not mean to imply that nobody was working hard. I mean only to say that everyone seemed to be aware that the shows are exactly what they are going to be by now. (Not counting the X factor that an audience often brings.) So we basically all did our thing, and that was that. Not a whole lot of extra goings on.

Also possibly contributing to the low key rehearsal was the knowledge we will all be rehearsing again tomorrow morning, at the venue, before opening the show in the evening. This will be really only the second, (and final) chance I will have to rehearse in the venue, with all technical elements in place.

The first time I got to do so was last night, (Thursday.) And let me just say, in regards to last night, we totally nailed Philip Glass! The best we have ever done it, no doubt. And if the old superstition that a lesser final rehearsal means for a better opening night, we are in line to peak right as we open. Something that really is "all in the timing" as it were.

Due to the nature of this production, this will be the first time I have not really had a chance to run the show in full costume.Sort of. I had my base, all black outfit on last night, along with the sweater I will wear for my first show. For Philip Glass, I have chef's jacket to put on over top of said base outfit. (I play a baker in that one.) But I already know it fits, as I tested it last week. So I am not worried about that.

I am not really worried about anything. The show is going to be good, the director told us. Some lumps here and there, but that is to be expected. Given the schedules and other small obstacles we have all faced, I would say we are quite ready.

And more than that, it will be an inaugural affair; it's the first ever production of a new company. If nothing else, I get to take that into my career.

If I have the time, I will provide a brief update after the morning rehearsal...if there is anything particular worth reporting. Otherwise, I will probably just report on the actual opening, later in the evening.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coming Together...

Last night, (Wednesday) I had to miss a tech rehearsal because I was working. That's pretty much the first time that has ever happened in my acting career. I feel a bit down about it, but I am not beating myself up over it. I will feel even more down when I have to do it again tomorrow. (Friday.) But making money is making money, right?

I will say a few things about Monday and Tuesday night, though. in both cases, most of the people in most of the plays were not in attendance. (So I do not feel quite so bad missing those days this week.) Given that, on Monday I was called upon to read parts for missing actors in three different plays. This, plus my own two plays made for a busy day or two. I did not have to read for as many missing people on Tuesday.

Plus these two rehearsals were conducted in a private home. So, although it is good for lines, (I consider myself off book for both plays), blocking and props are not generally a part of the equation. Plus, my one scene partner was out of town for both rehearsals. In many ways, one could say I have not really had a chance to rehearse much in the way my shows will be performed.

This could have made me nervous, but in this case it has not. Despite the poor attendance at the last few rehearsals, I reached, in the course of those two or three days, being comfortable with the production as a whole. I am not just referring to things such as lines or blocking. I am referring to the more subtle things...the people involved...the travel to and from the location... (Almost an hour drive for me), and the nature of this unique first production. It certainly will not be the largest or grandest opening night I have ever had, but that moment where the "fun" clicked in came about recently. It's the final, (but not inevitable) step which allows me, and many other actors to summon their maximum creativity for a piece. With that having happened, I feel there is a lot to offer in those shows, despite the limited rehearsal time, and availability of the casts.

Not to mention that it is a minimalist setup, anyway. The lines and the show are essentially the lion's share of what is happening. (Especially with Philip Glass.) These plays can be more complicated in some venues, but we do not have that luxury. Furthermore, I would argue the Ives pieces we are doing lend them self more to minimalist sets and costumes. They are verbal assaults on the audience and other actors. Friendly assaults, to be sure, but ones which can lose potency in too many frills. In our case, by force, and by choice, that is not going to be an issue.

I will have rehearsal tonight, which I believe will be a tech rehearsal in the actual venue. I will miss tomorrow, and that will leave the Saturday morning run through before the actual opening. All told, it appears I will have 2 chances to run the show, as it will be performed,costumes, props and all, before we open on Saturday night.

There are drawbacks, but nothing that will sink the ship. Indeed, in a way, this is the spirit of community theatre. It is local people, picking a show, with a minimal budget and hectic schedules, finding a small, barely adequate venue, and entertaining those that do show up, through the purest form of acting...intimate, performance/dialog based experiences, lacking spectacle. Though the writing cannot compare, there is a Shakespearean, or in the very least, an Elizabethan theatre quality to what we are doing here, if I may be so bold. Sparse props, little to no sets, cramped quarters, mixed with the dedication to the craft of entertaining...whomever will come, and in whatever venue we can secure.

I speak for only me, as others may not be as impressed by our humble beginnings. But, such people are not likely to attend the play, or read this blog in the first place. For those that will attend, or wish they could, and those that read this blog, you probably follow what I mean.

And so, bring on rehearsal...

And ticketsarestill available over at

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hell "Partial" Week

Indeed, it all begins tomorrow. But, first things first.

Today there was a rehearsal. All of the plays were supposed to be present, but, only a fraction showed up. At least during the time I was there.

First thing I went over was Philip Glass. We ran that several times..and with few exceptions, it gets better and better each time. There are bumps, but I am quite pleased with the progress. Sometimes, with a piece like this, you can get to know it so well that you almost don't know it for a moment. That is to say, your brain knows where you are, and what you need to be doing, but your mind is not quite confident enough to believe get something right, but you are not certain you were right, so you hesitate. You become tentative. There were a few instances of this today. But not many, I am proud to say. I feel very confident now in saying that by thetime we open (in just a few days!!!)we will be all set.

My scene partner for The Philadelphia was not here today. Before I left, I ran lines with the director, but I have that down cold, and he said there was no reason to go over that again.

And hence was the start of "hell week".

Sadly, my partner for Philadelphia will miss a few days, because he is getting married. I myself will, sadly, have to miss two nights of hell week because of my job. (I have never missed a tech week rehearsal before, to the best of my memory.) But a job is a job. In the end, I think I will have only two chances all week to run The Philadelphia with my scene partners, in the true venue of the performance. (Most of the rehearsals have been in the director's home.) I am not at all worried...a tad concerned perhaps. I will never have opened a show with this little venue rehearsal beforehand. But, it is what it is, I signed on for it, and it is still exciting to be part of a new, up and coming theatre company.

I will be working extra hard, in some ways. In other ways, I will not be. To be more specific, I will be working extra hard during the rehearsals I will be able to attend this week. But at the same time, I do not feel I will have a lot to review on my own at home.

Consider, loyal blog readers, that for the one play, I am off book enough to not have to sweat it too much. Quick reviews of the pages each night before bed should be enough. And for the Philip Glass piece, we are at a point where going over the script on our own probably no longer does any good; we all need to be present to get the most out of rehearsing that. I will be going over some problem spots myself, but between being okay for one script, and the highly unusual other script, there will not be much extra work at home that I will be able to do.

Very unconventional feelings leading into a very unconventional tech week for a very unusual production. But variety can only improve an actor's character. Into the uniqueness, I say.

(tickets for the show still available!!)

And on another note, I just posted another episode of my internet radio show, over at Go there!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Backlog Entry

I am quite tired this evening, having delivered a tour earlier. But I realized I had skipped two rehearsal updates, so it was time to remedy that. (Since I will have another rehearsal tomorrow.)

First, our normal rehearsal on Friday. Hands down the best that The Philadelphia has gone. Not to jinx it, but that was close to the rehearsal where you know you totally have a show down. A few lines were skipped here and there, but nothing that would throw off the show. In practice, we are officially off book.

At one point I apparently made a gesture, or intonation on a line that was rather every in the room cracked up, and the scene had to be started over. I suppose if this is happening, I am doing something right.

Unlike many directors I have worked with, my current director told us that he does not mind something like that happening during a performance, provided we actors can jump back into the script and not get lost. I doubt it will happen during a performance, now that it has already happened. But anything is possible, and it is good to know we have that leeway.

Later that night, we ran through Glass, but were one person short. Still, not too bad, though we all were shaky in our own certain parts of the script. Nonetheless, the repetition helped.

This was even more helpful the following morning, when just those of us in Glass met on our own, to basically run the show over and over again until its patterns started to click with us.Twice, we very nearly performed it without mistakes! This is a big victory, as I have been most worried about this script. But as I said, it's there in our heads now. That much at least has been proven. With tech week coming up, we have many more times to beat it into our heads, and for the first time I can say I feel confident that we will.

But as one actress observed, in a play like this, the audience will probably never know if we screw up, so long as we do not show it on our faces. Agreed.

So, a week from now, opening night will be over! Hard to believe it is that soon, once again. It has been a strange rehearsal process, no doubt. Uneven, and nowhere near as often as I am used to. And yet, we are succeeding! And I assume the other plays in the production are moving along just as well.

So again, for you Shepherdstown locals that may be reading this, come see us. for all the info you need.

And that, loyal blog readers, is that for now. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Clock is Ticking...

All kinds of things going on.

Firstly, my thanks to the anonymous poster who said they enjoyed my radio show. (Found at A new episode will be along soon. Please, whoever you are, keep commenting.

Secondly, and the main thing is, rehearsal. I had one Thursday, and one today.

I am proud to say I am off book for The Philadelphia. I can now concentrate on the all important

It is just as well too, because we actually open a week from Saturday! Holy!

Which still leaves me with some worries about Philip Glass. When we all read from the book, our timing and character is great. But we get pretty confused pretty quickly when we are without books. For my part, when I listen to a tape of it, I am pretty close to knowing everything. 90% I dare say. But when it comes to actually doing it with others...lots of things get lost. I will have to work double time to get this one ready to go. (Though I did come up with a bit of movement on Thursday that director found funny. I will keep it.)

As for The Philadelphia, my main goal at this point is to register the realization of being in a "Philadelphia", but not to such a degree as to make it surreal. It may in fact be that to the audience, but I feel the piece only works if the predicament my character is in; as outlandish as it may be, actually seems possible in the universe of the play. Indeed, this is probably the best way to approach any David Ives production, in my opinion. Well, except, possibly, for Philip Glass.

So, my overall goal, now that I am off book, is to "keep it real" within the unrealness, if that makes sense. It doesn't work as a total absurdest piece, in my view.

I must also go shopping for a costume. We are to be wearing all black shirts, shoes, pants, etc. All of the plays are doing so, and just adding a small piece here and there to denote what they are doing at any given moment.

Aside from my rehearsal, I got to see some of the other plays in the collection today. They seem to be coming along rather well. Hopefully all of them will improve steadily between now and opening night. (The day of which we may have to have a rehearsal, for we may not have access to the building with all of the set pieces and curtains until the morning of the very first show.)

All and all, it is coming along. I wish I were further along in Philip Glass, but I cannot help but be very satisfied with the progress I have made in Philadelphia.

One final side note...I gave my first tour last night. (Saturday). It went pretty much as I thought it would go. I had fun, and the guests seemed to have fun, which in the end is all that matters. I even made a few tips.

Next rehearsal is Thursday. Those of you who read this and are nearby, come see it! Go to for details.
nuance of performing and movement. I will not call it blocking, as basically I am sitting the whole time, with a few moments of pacing. But either way, the little things...gestures, facial expressions, etc, are now getting more attention.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Etc, etc. I have been spending a large portion of this afternoon trying to nail down the Philip Glass script. I would say I am tentatively off book for about 60% of it or so. But it's such a blooming difficult piece to review on your own! Or with other people, for that matter...

But I press on now...

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Quiet Anniversary, And Some More.

Yes, indeed, loyal blog readers. Today marks the two year anniversary of the launch of Always Off Book. No huge celebrations, or intricate countdowns this year, like last year. Can't make a big to do each time October 7 rolls around. =) However, I wanted to acknowledge it in a few small ways. Certainly with a mention. It is good to still be kicking about my theatre thoughts after two years.

One thing I will mention is a simple entry about my current production. I received an email from my director last night. The costumes for the piece will be all black attire. Each actor will have a few particular add on pieces that they will wear depending on which character that are playing at the moment. So I will have to be on the look out for some black clothing. (I do not have much of it, believe it or not.)

Plus just a few days to be off book. I really wish there had been more time for Philip Glass to be honest. It is more work than I thought. Nothing I cannot do, but I would have been more secure in my ability to do it if I had been working on it twice as long as I have been. So, I feel less than confident I will be totally off book for that one by Thursday. But of course, as always, I will be making the effort.

So that is the current show update.

Now for something else...

This is not truly related to theatre. But because this is my blog, and word of mouth is rather important for something like this, I am letting my blog reading friends know first.

I have started another blogger account. For now, I call it "Almost Radio". The purpose of the site is to offer a sort of make shift internet radio show experience.

You see, I was on the radio in college, and have missed it ever since. Recently I have been investigating the possibilities of such do it yourself online radio stations as, and such. I learned quickly that even the simplest form of those stations would require an investment of money and equipment I am not quite prepared to make just yet. But, I still wanted to explore the idea of producing an internet "radio" show, so I explored my options.

After much research, confusing computer jargon, and frustrating experiments, I believe I have found a passable substitute. The substitute is the new page...Quasi-Radio Ty.

Basically, I record a short talk-radio show on my computer. I upload the file to a host, and then I post a player, as a post, in the blog. Those who want to hear the show just press "play".

Now, of course, it is not live, and I long to do live shows again at some point. But I saw no reason to work on a substitution plan until I can make the investment. And after all, 80% of what we hear on standard, satellite or internet radio is pre-recorded anyway, so I am not that far behind the curve.

It is still spontaneous, however. There is no editing involved. Though I could easily edit something to make it sound better, or fix a mistake, I won't. The program will be posted "as recorded", warts and all. The next best thing I can promise listeners outside of a live broadcast.

My first "webisode" is on the site now. It is a test episode, so it is only 30 minutes. I imagine future episodes will be 60 minutes. (And I hold myself strictly to those limits, even though there is no advertising and such. I set a timer and when it goes off, show is done.)

You can expect life observations, games, discussions on politics, philosophy,other blogs. I will also be taking comments, suggestions and questions from listeners. I will be reading emails during the show, if people want, and I will be steering the course of the conversation int he direction that an email takes me, if people should opt to ask questions. Basically, it truly is a talk radio show, just not a live one.

The technology seems stable, but it is an experiment, and I suppose it could vanish at any time. But for now it seems to be working, so please, check it out, and leave me on when you need some though provoking back ground noise. And do tell your friends about it. If I don't get a large listener following, a steady loyal one would be nice.

So, two years after launching this blog, I embark on another concurrent blogging adventure. Hope

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dwindling Numbers

Another person has dropped out of the production! I met them just one time, at the very first rehearsal. I am sure they had their reasons, but, wow. Keep in mind, I am in this show because I myself replaced a drop out. Now another.

The initial suggestion of our director was to eliminate Philip Glass from the production altogether. He citedthe fact that one of the actresses had already replaced two other people, and would be in three of the shows. Plus the fact that it is the most difficult of all the shows to do when time is short, and casts keep changing.

I was inclined to agree, but did not really say anything. I am having a bit of a hardtime with the script, and I would not weep if it were cut. But in the end, it was decided to at least give the one actress a chance to learn the script. And if she can, the show will continue.

Ok, but the question is, will I be able to myself?

Actually, I am sure that I will be able to...but it will take lots of extra time put into it.

On the plus side, tonight proved that I am just around the corner from being off book for The Philadelphia. I studied it alot yesterday, and some today, and as I deliveredthe lines I realized I had more committed to memory thanI would have thought a few days ago.

That being said, I was able to emote more, and come up with some more unique line readings, since I was off book for some chunks of it.

One thing I am having a problem with somewhat, (not terribly large), is the exageratted innunciation that is required of all os uf in this show. It is difficult to innunciate that properly, while trying to convey a frazzled character. Yet it is very much required, as the acoustics in the chapel we are using are very poor. We are taking physical steps to correct that, but innunciation is still even more important than it otherwise would be. (Which is very important anyway.)

At the end of rehearsal it was decided that next week we are to be off book. I havementioned how far I am on that. But this one is sneaking up on us. Not only is it a short time away, but meeting only once a week makes each rehearsal all the more important.

It's a bit hectic right now. But I would not classify myself as worried at all.

Nobody else seems to be either. So this is good news.


Within an hour or so I will be leaving for the latest All in the Timing rehearsal, which I shall of course talk about later. But right now, there are some things about the past I would like to mention.

I received a package today. It was from a dear friend of mine that I went to college with. The contents were unexpected, but pleasantly surprising.

The last show at Marietta College that I ever appeared in as a student was Miss Nelson is Missing. I discussed that show more in detail in a previous post. Go there to learn more, but the short version is, I played a kid who acting in every way, like Elvis.

During the costuming of this show, there was some back and forth as to whether I would be dressed as the older Elvis from the 1970's, or the younger 1950's iconic Elvis. The latter was chosen, and the search was on for a leather jacket. (I didn't own one, and for whatever reason, neither did the costume shop.)

The friend I mentioned was also in this play. A friend of hers had given her a nice leather jacket a few years before, and she offered to let me use it for the show. Which I did.

I enjoyed wearing it as Elvis, even though the King probably did not have a jacket exactly like it. But, since I was not playing the King, only a kid who wanted to be the King, it worked out well. It was with some reluctance I gave the jacket back at the end of the show's run.

I graduated a few months later, and never saw the jacket again...until today.

For those of you that have yet to catch on, my friend just sent me the very same jacket.

A broad smile crossed my face as I opened the box. I knew instantly what it's contents were. I took it out. Examined it. I am fairly certain that you can still make out small stains from the stage make up I wore during the show, just around the collar of the jacket.

I put it on, for the first time in over 5 years. Though I have gained some weight since then, it still went on. And it was, believe it or not, quite familiar in feel. Though I had not worn it in years, the position of all the snaps, zippers and pockets was as fresh in my mind as if it had been my own jacket all those years.

Quite a nostalgia piece, indeed.

It is really only the second significant costume piece from a show I own. (Not counting pieces I already owned before I used them in a show.) The Opera House wouldn't even let me keep a microscopic name tag with my character's name printed on it one time. Ha.)

I may have to break out the old video of that show tonight, just because I can. I rarely watch it, but if ever I were to do so, tonight would be a good time, I would think.

It will hang now, in my closet, unless I find some other cool way to display it. Either way, it is here, and is a part of my acting career. I love it, and the friend that sent it.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I did not make it into Beauty and the Beast at the Opera House. I thought I had done quite well at the audition, and am a bit disappointed. But in the end, this does not honestly surprise me.

The Opera House and I have sort of had a parting of the ways of late, in regards to certain attitudes and aspirations. Or perhaps it was coincidental all those years when I thought I was more in line with them. At any rate, though I obviously will not say I will never try out for an Opera House show again, (I am sure I will) they certainly feel less like home than they did back when I started this blog.

And forthose willing to cry "sour grapes", I will say that even before this audition, I had begun to feel that way. My relationship with that company had been changing for a while now. They are not looking for people like me anymore, and I will have to accept that.

So, I guess I am a bit more of a freelance now, locally. I just no longer consider the Opera House a home base of my operations.

I did want to be in a 3 weekend show, but, I was never in love with this script to begin with. It's commercial, and a bit silly. And not at all Christmasy. So, a few more reasons I suppose it is for the best.

Plus, all the more time to dedicate to All in the Timing. And to my job. So here's to those things.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rehearsal and a Website

First things first. I have been given permission to advertise the theatre company's brand new website here on my blog. So, I give you the Full Circle Theatre Company!

As I mentioned a while back, this is a brand new theatre company that was formed by some colleagues of mine in the local community theatre network. All in the Timing will be it's debut production. So whatever else happens in my theatre career, I can say with some pride that I was part of a theatre company's inaugural show.

If any of you reading this lives in or near Shepherdstown, West Virginia, do come see the show. It will be a zany evening, to say the least. Tell your friends.

And to that end, we had practice for Philip Glass today.

Most of the time was spent simply doing little segments of the script over and over, in an attempt to get rhythms down and lines memorized. Some bits and pieces are there, but I still have a lot of work to do in that regard. And with the other play, plus the tour script, I have certainly been following Olivier's advice to always keep one's mind in shape through memorizing something each day.

There was not much blocking worked out today. As I have said innumerable time here on the blog, and as just about any actor can tell you, blocking really doesn't come into its own until you are off book, and the script is out of your hand. I confess to being somewhat nervous about this one, given how unusual it is. But I rise to the challenge every time, and I have no reason to believe I will not this time. It's very different.

Also, one of our cast members was not here today. She has been incommunicado for a few days, it would seem. No word on whether or not she is coming back at all. Hopefully, she will be.

No word yet on Beauty and the Beast.

And that, loyal blog readers, is my short update for today.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Le Venue

Today we had a rehearsal in the actual place we will be performing...a small chapel to a local (for most of the cast) Episcopal Church. A nice, clean, simple, but small little space. But you take what you can get when you are starting your own theatre company.

They say it should seat about 50 people, with the set and everything erected. An intimate performance space, for certain. So intimate, in fact, that once we are back stage, we can't go anywhere until the entire production is over. The bathrooms are in another building, and actors would be seen if they left the performance venue.

A slight inconvenience, but nothing worth flipping out about.

Unfortunately, today we had two people missing. One from each show we were going over today. So neither show had a full compliment.

Nonetheless, we did get some work done. And the director is surprised with how much improvement have come with "Philip Glass" already. That will be a nightmare to memorize, as I have indicated before, but even with scripts in our hands, moving around while giving the lines give them some extra punch.

We even discussed the possibility of having some of our lines delivered from the audience. (That is to say, while walking through/sitting in the audience space.) No final word on that yet, but there are so many bizarro things that could be done with this script.

Plus it is the finally to the entire night, so it has to have that sort of extra shine to it.

Overall, still a lot of work to be done. But I have some things smoothing out for me, schedule wise, and I should be able to devote more intense time to studying the script. Both of them, actually.

Those of us in "Philip Glass" agreed to meet again on Sunday. So we will have some extra time to work on that one this week. We need it, and I am willing. I will have to check my schedule, but I should be fine.

Short update, I know, but it puts all of you loyal blog readers up to speed for right now. Everything marches on...

Monday, September 24, 2007


All right, loyal blog readers. I did something tonight I do not think I even mentioned I was thinking about before.

I just got back from auditioning for "Beauty and the Beast" at the Old Opera House.

What an experience that was, let me tell you!

First, I wish to address those of you who might think I have gone insane to try out for a show, when I am already in a show. (two shows, actually, within one festival.) Plus, my new job.

My response is, I may in fact be crazy. But it worked out in my head this way...

Most of the nights I would not be rehearsing for All in the Timing, I will have free to rehearse for Beauty and the Beast.(Forthwith referred to as BB.) My understanding is that there is to be a larger than minimal chorus. I would give it a shot. I figured if I get at least chorus, I will have something to do after All in the Timing finishes up. And when my part time job is done. (Both of which will be concluding at around the same time.)

Then, there is the fact that Timing will have an abbreviated performance Fridays. And once it closes, I will have the better part of November to dedicate totally to BB. (It opens November 30.)

But why else did I try out for this show that, I admit, never exactly set me on fire?

One, it is at Christmas time. The Old Opera House's season closer. Though it's not a holiday oriented production, I do quite enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas, mixed with the hustle and bustle of a show. Particularly a very large spectacle as this promises to be.

Second reason I tried out anyway; it is the first show at this theatre to be open for three weekends. I have never been in a show for three weekends. Despite the difficulties, I wanted the experience of a triple weekender.

In fact, with 11 dates, if I got it it may be the show with the most dates I have ever performed in. I will have to research that.

One final reason...alot of my friends were trying out. Not all of them that said they were ended up doing so. And of course there were two night before now, so some of them may have been there. But tonight alone, several of my friends were present. It is very nice to be near my friends, when I am going through a semi-hard time. (As I am now.) It being at Christmas just adds to that. So if I am cast in something, I hope some of my friends are as well.

So, with that out of the way, the audition itself.

It went very well. It took a while, as we were warned, because of the large amount of people. Only Grease auditions at that theatre were comparable in my memory. Luckily, I was among the first 20 people there, so, I did not have to wait as long as some.

It's in three sections. You are called in to sing. Then you wait. Then you and a group are called to the stage for dance auditions, after which you move to a room to do the readings.

Those who read my blog know, I hate musical auditions. I would be twice as comfortable auditioning for a Shakespeare play as I am for any musical. I just hate the singing. And this time, I did not have sheet music.

Loyal blog readers know I cannot read sheet music. And I only have sheet music for one song...Master of the House from Les Mis. This is the song I sing 95% of the time at a musical audition. But this music director has heard me sing that a million times, I wanted to do something different. So a few days ago I thought of some of the Broadway songs I was kind of familiar with, that were easy to learn.

I settled on "Put on a Happy Face." I went to YouTube, found some clips of people singing that, and taught myself the first few bars. I got it pounded into my head over the weekend. I printed off the lyrics and off I went to the audition.

They didn't seem to mind I had no music. Thankfully. I sang, and it went exactly as I would have hoped. Not a challenging piece, but for me, doing anything outside of my routine can be a challenge.

After that, i was more relaxed. I had been keeping to myself before the song, but afterwards, I went to talk up some of my friends that were there. As luck would have it, when they called groups in to dance, we all went in one group.

I can't dance. At least, I cannot learn choreography on the spot. I am so behind the curve on this, that I do not even get nervous during a dance audition. But having my friends in my group made it more fun, and though I was horrible, I actually did understand what I was supposed to be doing for a change. That is not usually how it goes for me, and so I can say with some pride that this was, despite the huge flaws, the best dance audition I have ever given.

I might have actually been having some fun with it. Which, perhaps, is why it went much easier than usual.

Then, the reading.

I have not seen the film in years. And even then, only once all the way through. I had only a rudimentary memory of the parts I was asked to read for. But, as is often the case with me, different readings, facial expressions, and idea came to me as I went along. Creative ideas I have to say I was quite proud of, given the time constraints.

Plus, me and a friend of mine read opposite each other as Gaston, and his little sidekick. If I do say so myself, that familiarity with each other really allowed us to open up during the reading. That was fun to do.

We then switched parts, which was as muscle bound Gaston. Not going to happen, but fun to read, I suppose.

I also read for Cogsworth, and Lumiere. (Both times with the same friend of mine playing the opposite role.) Again, fun to play off of each other.

At the very end, I got, what I think, was a bonus chance to impress. A little.

Normally, the scene would end when the director asked us to stop. But, this time, for whatever reason, he let us keep going, and I had the chance to deliver, as Lumiere, the line which says,

"Oui, mon capitain."

Now, I had not been using a French accent up until that point, but since this was in French, i used one. I do not speak a word of French anymore, but I have retained my near perfect French pronunciation from my school days. So, I said it like a true Frenchman.

Again, not very much, but sometimes that little extra point is all you need.

And that was it.

I almost always feel confident going into an audition. (Music aside.) But this time, I was also enjoying myself quite a bit. I do not know if it was the day,the group, or the material. Or something else. But, it was a very good audition. I really do not think I could have done a whole lot better than what I did.

We will find out on Sunday, if we are cast. I hope me and several friends get in.

If I do get it, this will only be the second time I have ever been in two shows, overlapping. I did it once, in college. But they only overlapped for about a week, when the first show closed. This will have several weeks of overlap. But, I think I can do ok. Sometimes it's a blessing to be this busy, I would say.

So, keep your collective fingers crossed for me, loyal blog readers! And also for my niece, who tried out last night.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First Rehearsal

First allow me to mention to Muzak Box that I will respond to your question here on the comments section of that post. Thanks for writing. =)

Now, on to the news of the first rehearsal for All in the Timing.

It went well. I am working with several people I have never met before, so it is always nice to expand one's horizons. At the same time, I am working with several people I have known for a while. So it's the best of both worlds.

Also for now, we must practice in the director's home. But it is a large home, so it works out nicely.

The Philadelphia should go quite well. It is a short, straight forward piece, only about 7 minutes long or so, give or take a minute. Just need to hammer my lines into my mind. I shall be working on that several times a day between now and next week, no doubt. We have altered some of the language, because a local church is nice enough to allow us to perform in their chapel, and we thought it might be a nice gesture to leave out the "fucks" etc. So we shall do so.

Then, there's Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.

If you are not familiar with the piece, it is hard to describe. The only thing I can do is direct you to a YouTube clip of a whole production of it, found here.

Needless to say, it is a short, but very complicated piece. I was lost several times the first few times we went through it. However, by sheer repetition tonight, I began to detect the patterns in the piece. It will be a lot of work, (especially since it is not something you can work on alone, by any stretch of the imagination.) But I will be able to get there. The amount of improvement between our first read through and our last this evening is indicative of just how far we can come in the short time we will have.

Plus, one of the actors recorded it digitally, and will be sending us each a copy, so we can at least listen to it between rehearsals. That should be quite helpful.

All and all, a great first rehearsal. Nobody involved is anything but totally committed. I love that feeling. I could just sense it from the first moments that nobody was just sticking their toe in the water; they are taking of at full steam. And when that is the case, the end result cannot help but be of high quality.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sad News

I of course shall not divulge any names here, but the fact is that one of the members of the production I am currently in, has died.

I met him just once, when we both attended a play to support the same mutual friend. That was only a few months ago, and though I had heard of him before that, he struck me as a highly interesting individual.

Indeed, he was fairly well known in the local theatre circles. He was a professor of drama, actor, director and playwright. (Published.) I had looked forward to working with him, even though he was not in the two plays I will be appearing in.

How strange it all is. I got an email from my director just minutes ago. Before that, the most recent email the director sent, (which I still have) was a forward...which naturally included the departed man's email address on the forward list.

That may seem like "who cares" to many, but it really hits it home. How fresh and recent his involvement in this show was. And now, he is in fact, dead.

No word on the future of the production itself, and that is by no means important at all right now anyway. What matters is that peace be with his family, friends, and all the people who had the privilege, unlike myself, to know him better, and to work with him.

Here's to him...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Current Situation(s)

I mentioned some time ago here on the blog that I was working out some details of another acting related sort of project. It is more finalized now, and I will share it with you.

Plus, in the time since first mentioning it, something else has been added to my theatre life. But first things first.

I have secured a temporary, part time job, as a tour guide. I will not give the name of the company, because I have not gotten permission from them to do so, and it is probably bad form to mention them by name in my personal acting blog. But the gist of it is...there are various haunted locations in a city I live near, according to legend. Throughout the Halloween season and a bit beyond, tours are conducted down some of the streets of these locations, guides giving the story, and keeping the paying tourists entertained. Basically,your typical tour guide stuff.

They encourage you to give a little character to your tour when you give it is, in a sense, acting, though perhaps not technically. It is also not technically amateur, as I will be getting paid. But it is my blog, and the news was relevant enough to include, by my judgment.

Some time this week I will meet with the supervisor, and give him the tour, to make sure I will be on track for the October busy season. The script does not have to be memorized verbatim, so it's not exactly like a play. But there is a lot of information to absorb. But I have been working on it, and would say I can recall about 65% of what I need right now. I should be fine.

Again, for the sake of discreetness, I will probably not be related stories of my encounters as a tour guide here on the blog. But I might, if I can keep it anonymous enough, so the company is not identified. We shall see.

Now, for my other, more to the topic news.

A few weeks ago, a director I worked with back in 2003, in my first production at the Old Opera House, emailed me, and said his wife had started a new theatre company. One of their actors had to bail out, and he wanted to know if I would replace him. After much haggling over schedules and such, I agreed to do it...mainly because I wanted to work with these people again. Also, because it is a collection of really short plays, and i will only be in two. The memorization burden should be minimal. (Though concurrent with committed the tour to memory.)

The production is All In the Timing; a collection of 7 short plays by David Ives. I will be appearing as Mark in The Philadelphia and as the Baker in Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.

Many actors are familiar with Ives. Indeed, I myself had my first lead role ever in Ives' Variations on the Death of Trotsky back in college. That play too, is part of this collection, so I was a stone throw away from being in a play for the second time. (Something that as of yet, has never happened.)

Like my recent turn in the New Voice Play Festival as JFK, (see my postings in and around June of this year for more details), this production will have only a hand full of rehearsal, before going on during the last weekend in October, and the first one in November. One is a fairly complicated text, so all of you blog readers out there who follow my adventures, i need you to pull for me, and the power of my brain in the coming weeks!

So, that is pretty much what alot of my time leading into Thanksgiving will be about. I will keep you posted regularly about the Ives thing, for sure.

Friday, September 07, 2007

In Memoriam

As I type this, I am doing something I have very rarely done; I am listening to the sounds of the now late Luciano Pavarotti, who died this morning in Italy.

I do not follow Opera, by and large. I have never attended one, and will in all likelihood never be in one. However, one need not be an aficionado of opera to understand the gift that was Pavarotti to the world of music. Indeed, he did not only sing opera.

Generally, I would only listen to the now silenced golden voice of the "King of Tenors" at Christmas my mother has a Christmas album of Pavarotti. I am no more an expert on Pavarotti than I am on opera itself. Yet the news of his death today inspired me to pick up one of his CD's at the library, and as I listen, what I knew intellectually before now is confirmed in fact; the world has lost one of its best voices.

Oddly enough, for someone who did not listen to alot of his music, what I did hear over the years inspired me to often watch interviews with the man. Anytime I saw him speak, it seemed as though he must have been a gentle sort, all and all. Jolly, etc. But most importantly, it was always very clear what he felt he was on this earth to do...sing opera. (or operatic type music, much of the time.) The nature of musical performance, I feel, was evident in the man wherever he went.

I say this not to be hokey, as again, I do not know much about him outside of what I learned in the interviews with him I would watch. I certainly never met him. But sometimes a performer, such as myself, just...knows when someone breathes performing...when it springs forth from the soul of someone like sunlight. I feel Pavarotti was one of those people.

Indeed, that is why I take this time to remember him here in my acting blog. Music and acting are very close cousins. Opera and acting even closer. And though my expertise is generally as an actor, and a local one at that, it seemed only appropriate that anyone who gains anything from being on stage in front of an audience, ought to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of someone like Pavarotti. For opera stars and other performers, like all types of people die each is not often that one of the great of the apexes of the craft comes along...and from what I gather Pavarotti was one of those.

Another now dead but not forgotten performer, closer to my genus of stage, was, as many of you who read this blog know, Sir Laurence Olivier. He often advised actors, in his books, and in person, that the best thing we can all do is take in as many varying mediums of human expression. Art, museums, concerts, and I would assume, of course, opera. Seeing all these things, Olivier thought, only served to enhance the actor's ability to shine that light from within onto those who watch the performance. By seeing the craft of other artists in other mediums who are really in the end trying to communicate the same sort of messages about humanity, the actor picks up things he would not otherwise pick up, if he remained cloistered within his own craft.

As usual, Oliver made a great point with that. Perhaps I, as an actor, should make greater efforts from now on, to see operas...or at least vocal performances of the highest caliber. So that I do not have to wait until the next great artist, in any medium dies, before I opt to appreciate them.

Luciano Pavarotti

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Perhaps, a Different Kind of Gig

Still here, loyal blog readers, and with some semi news for you. (Semi, because it is not definite yet, and I will not be telling you a lot of details...yet ;) )

I have talked to someone today who will be meeting me in the future, and is sending me some things to review, via mail. If I like what I see, and others are agreeable, I may very soon begin a different kind of acting gig. Temporary, and perhaps not as pressing as most of my work, but what it lacks in size, it will more than make up for in uniqueness...

So, just something to whet you curiosities! I will explain what is happening just as soon as my involvement in confirmed.

Check back often!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Excuse Me, But Could You...

It will happen at some point if you care about the work you are doing. You will be in the midst of the rehearsal process, and realize that something between you and another actor during a scene is just not working.

You do not dislike the actor, and indeed think they otherwise do fine work. But there is just that one exchange, that one response, that one pause that throws you during scene 4 that you wish wholeheartedly did not have to occur?

What do you do?

Unless you know the actor personally, approaching them presents some risks. There are those, (I have met them)who literally will refuse to discuss any nuance or moment of their performance with any other human but the director. On the other side of that same coin, there are directors who insist that actors must never discuss a scene without they, the director being present.

Both such hard lines are wrong, and take the joy and creativity out of being in a community production. I won't be talking about such extreme viewpoints here.

But the problem remains, what does one do in such circumstances, assuming they are dealing with reasonable people?

Despitedealing with reasonable people, there is a wrong way to handle it;you should never simply tell them to change something.

"I'm having real trouble with the line pick up here. Could you just say the line with more anger,quieter,louder...etc."

Worse yet are those who would presume to actually deliver the line to the other actor in the way the have envisioned it.

In either case, bad form. Bad form because it is taking away control of the character from the actor who is portraying said character. As I have oft said on this blog, this should be avoided at all costs. (Spoken like a true actor, right?)

Instead of making a specific request of the other actor, ask them for an opinion. Try to first establish if they feel that the scene is awkward. If they agree with you that "something" is off, ask them what they think it is first, and hear what they have to say. They maybe thinking the same thing that you are. In which case, they may come to the same idea you had, thus saving egos from potential bruises.

If they problem they have seen is not the same as yours, still listen to them first, and as you discuss their concerns, discuss your own.

But even if the other actor has not felt any problems with the scene, do not ignore your concerns. You are part of the scene too, after all! Just be polite. Explain to them the problem you are having, and invite them o give suggestions as to what the two of you can do together to fix it. Then, though it was your concern, it becomes a team effort.

"I feel like I am having to rush my entrance during this scene, and I get a bit flustered. Did you notice that? Anything we can do to make the scene feel less rushed?"

With this approach the respect for every one's character remains intact,and no toes are stepped on. Only at this point, when all parties concerned have encountered a problem, and created a potential solution, would I go to the director. Even then it depends on the director, as some prefer to have actors work out small problems like this for themselves.

In a show, everyone is in it together. And those that cannot respond graciously to being approached in this manner are probably not offering much to the rest of the show anyway.