Sunday, June 24, 2007

Leaving Office

A strange ending to my days as JFK on stage...

Those who read this blog know that I am locked in mortal struggle with route 340...the main way to get from my home to the Old Opera House. What should have been a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive to a closing matinee became a 90 minute stop and go traffic nightmare.

I do not really want to get into the details of the traffic, or the accident that caused it. Suffice to say, I knew that I was not going to make it in time for curtain. A first ever.

I was able to call and leave a message, as well as get a message to the managing director personally. I wasn't sure what would occur, but learned that several others were trapped in the same predicament as I.

I was the last one there, but when I got there, I learned that they simply switch the order of the acts. What would have been act 2, went on first. Meaning that my show was to be the very first one after intermission.

This gave me about 30 minutes to gather myself after I got there. I was very grateful for that.

The performance itself, despite breaking our pattern, was a success. I slipped up once or twice, but I doubt anyone in the audience noticed.

Speaking of the audience, they were smaller and not as responsive as last night, but far better than Friday night. So despite the heartaches leading into today, it was a decent note to end on.

It really has been quite a ride. Only about 5 weeks total to rehearse, one and a half of which went unused by my play, because of schedule issues. Then casting issues after someone quit. Once the cast was finally in place, we have maybe total run throughs as a cast before we went on. Not to mention that a week or so ago it felt very rough and spotty.

Yet despite all of that we had a very productive, well run, and for my part enjoyable weekend of performances. Despite the problems, I really started to get into portraying a silent JFK. Weird as the play was, it gave me a real chance for unique, nuanced work, which is why I signed on in the first place.

Not only did I get to sharpen my nuance work, I was told I looked very much, as well as sounding (for my one line) very much like the real JFK. This, in the end, was one of my main goals. Knowing that more than one person thought I achieved it makes me feel quite happy.

So here's to the end of the "Kennedy Administration", one of the most bizarre, but also most challenging and satisfying acting experiences I have yet had.

Best Night Thus Far!

I play Kennedy in this play. Kennedy himself often quoted the ancient Greek definition of success...

"The full use of your powers along the lines of excellence."

By such a definition, tonight was a total success!

Bar none it was the best performance of the show we have yet offered. And we had the audience to match. About 70 people. (A strong showing for the festival.) Responsive, warm, and fun loving people. Those who caught on to the more subtle nuances of the play, and got more of the jokes. more into it than last night's crowd. Very rewarding.

It started before the show even opened, when I got my hair as close to right as it have ever been. Then, when I was actually performing, everything totally clicked. More so even than last night and any of the rehearsal. this week. The gestures, the timing, the pace. It all added up to an enjoyable evening for me. It has, in fact, been a while since an evening of theatre, (albeit a short one) was that much fun for me. I am very pleased.

The best part of it all was tonight was the night that got video taped! I very much look forward to seeing a copy of this play. If ever we nailed it, it was tonight.

Only one medium sized mistake...a sound cue was late, and then somewhat cut off, forcing me to jump ahead a few seconds. It was covered well, if I say so myself. The only damage I would say would be that one of the jokes was lost. But I never much cared for that joke anyway, so perhaps it was for the better.

Tomorrow's matinee is our last performance. Despite them being historically less impressive that Saturday night's, I have family and friends coming then. So hopefully we can top, or at least equal tonight.

To be honest though, even if we end up not quite matching tonight, tonight itself made the whole festival worth it to me.

Kudos to me and my cast mates!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Tonight was the debut of my portrayal of President Kennedy.

All and all, it went well. Quite to my satisfaction.

The crowd was quite small. 30 people perhaps. But records indicate it was biggerthan last year's Play Festival opening night. As I recall from last year, the second night was bigger than the first night. Hopefully that will hold true for this year as well.

As I have said, our play tends to be a bit confusion as it opens, and I think this crowd was in fact a bit confused. However, they did laugh at some key moments, and in fact laughed a few times I did not expect them to. They were not falling over in the aisles, but they were getting it, by and large.

I did get list for a moment once or twice. Not hopelessly of course, because I have the script right there. But once or twice I lost my place on the page, and the interpretor may have started before I had the chance to. But it was nothing that the audience noticed. At least I doubt they did.

I think the final two performances will go even better. This was a unique challenge for me. I knew that from day one. But now that the novelty ofhaving to do this pantomimtype of performance is behind me, I think i can make it smoother tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Last Practice

It seems we saved the best for last. At least in my opinion. I think the run through went better than it ever has. My performance last night went the best out of all the rehearsals, from my own perspective. Everything flowed nicely, the timing between me and the interpreter was very close to spot on, and I truly felt the Kennedy mannerisms coming to me very naturally. I had alot of fun last night, and I certainly hope the tonight's opening will go just as well, and be just as fun.

The managing director of the whole festival said that all the plays have come a long way in just a week. I of course did not see the other plays every night, but speaking for our play alone, I have to agree with him.

It is still a bizarre play. It may still confuse the audience, (as it did one of the actresses in one of the other plays who watched us practice last night.) Yet that confusion will not be due to the cast, by and large. Given the fact that we had fewer rehearsals than the other shows, and that our full cast took a while to be formed, we are set to do pretty damn with our reading this weekend.

So in just a few hours, I will ask not what the audience can do for me, but what I can do for the audience.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Back to Normal

We had the entire cast present for last night's rehearsal. As far as I know, they will all be present tonight as well, for our final rehearsal.

As I mentioned last entry, we went back to the headsets. Though still a bit distracting, I was alright overall wearing mine. It is a bit small, though, and I am hoping to find a larger, more comfortable set. But if not, I will live. Too late in the game to be worried about minutia.

I would say that by this point, with a few smaller sections I am working on, I have hit my timing with the show. The interpreters are doing better with following the silent characters, and I myself have gotten my Kennedy mannerisms down, probably as good as rehearsal is going to make them.The beginning is a little shaky still, but improving each night.

I did hear the director talking to one of the actresses in the show. He mentioned how she should try to play this show more as a spoof. To that end she advised me she would be approaching the character from a totally different way tonight. In what way, I cannot be certain, but I suppose I will be finding out tonight.

I also wore my costume last night. Didn't have to, but I hadn't really worn my full costume for a rehearsal yet, and I wanted to get used to it as soon as I could.So I put it on, and will have it one for the duration of the run.

My hair style is also probably as close as it is going to get. But I think I have gotten pretty close, given how different my hair tends to be from Kennedy's during his life.

Hard to believe we are down to just the final rehearsal. This really was the play that almost feels like it wasn't. Being there each night this week has to some small degree helped bring home the fact that we are opening soon, but it doesn't quite takeaway from the sporadic feeling of the previous month.

No matter, however. I actually feel quite prepared.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Super Tuesday

Rehearsed with one person short today. Despite this, I think it went fairly well.

It seems other directors think our play had been running too long. I personally do not agree with the statement, but nonetheless our director was asked to instruct us to speed up the show.

I suppose we succeeded. Tonight we took 18 minutes, as opposed to 25 minutes the previous night.

It also felt good. A groove is developing, and I really felt I captured the gestures and traits of JFK in several places. Much to my satisfaction, my director agreed with this.

The director in charge of the whole festival, however, had concerns about us not wearing the head set devices that we previously worked with. So we may have to put those back on. This is somewhat disappointing, seeing as how everyone in the show, including our director, felt that things ran alot smoother, and looked alot better without dealing with the headsets. So natural I was concerned at first. But the director reassured me that if we switch back to headsets, we would be allowed to put them on and forget them. This, as opposed to taking them off and putting them on at very awkward moments, as called for in the script.

If this is the option we take, I will be satisfied. So long as my movements are not restricted. We will be trying it out again tomorrow night, with the head sets.

Two more rehearsals to go, and I think, as I said, we are hitting a stride. I would say more, but it really is as simple as that. We are hitting a stride because the timing is improving, the blocking is getting more natural, and I myself actually feel as though I am moving about like JFK for most of the show. So, no need to over analyse things when they go well. I will just enjoy them, and hope the improvement continues.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Projections and Such

It seems a short slide show of pictures of JFK and Castro, projected on to the scrim behind our set will be used to open our play. An interesting touch. I just hope that seeing real pictures of JFK will not cause people to focus on just how unlike JFK I look.

As for the rest of rehearsal, a small amount of a stride is starting to be hit by the cast. It is confirmed that the silent characters will not be wearing headsets or using phones. They will be totally free to move around at will without having to be concerned with when to take off the headphones, put them on, lower them, etc. Despite the quite surreal visual this will create, I am in favor of it; mainly because it allows me greater freedom to move about. With my script on the desk, I am now totally hands free.

As for other aspects of the show, I feel more comfortable each time we do it, and it seems, so do the other cast members. We have not had much of a chance to talk as a cast outside of the rehearsals we have had, (indeed I spoke directly to one of the cast mates off stage for the very first time after rehearsal tonight.) But from what I gather, everyone is starting to feel more comfortable. The main challenge for the interpreters is to not start speaking before their respective president does so. This only happen with my interpreter once tonight, and that is a pretty good record if you ask me, given how little practice we have had with it.

There were no costumes tonight, and I do not think they are required again until Thursday. But given the fact that I like to perform in costume, to get a feel for how the clothes feel when I move about, I may be wearing my costume from now on.

Still working on my hair, as well. I have something resembling a part in the right place when I brush my hair, but it is still missing something. I think my hair's natural curl take away from my attempts at a JFK coif. I may need to use hairspray. Or perhaps I will just leave it, knowing that it is never going to be perfect.

Indeed, one of my main goals is to have people say, when they watch me, "He really does suggest JFK quite well." I do not look like him in the slightest, as I have said, but if i can get people to say I remind them of Kennedy, based on my hand gestures, facial expression, and stances, (without sacrificing the appropriate emotions), I will be happy overall.

Tomorrow we rehearse one cast member short. It cannot be helped, and I am not angry about it. I just wish it did not have to be that way is all. But such is the way of community theatre sometimes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Home Strech...Already?!

I had a rehearsal tonight for the one act play. We also had one on Wednesday. We open a week from tonight.


What with the casting problems, and having missed the first 4 or 5 rehearsals due to same, a play's opening has NEVER ran up on me this quickly before in my career. Just check back on this blog to confirm that. How much have I really said about it? It's not because I have nothing to say, but because we only had about 4 weeks to start with, and have only seriously got underway in the last day or two.

So what can be said about that last day or two?

A lot of work remains. We are a bit behind, in my opinion, even for a reading. But with just now finalizing a cast, that is expected, I suppose.

The timing is still being worked out. When the lines of two people have to be coordinated with the silent mouth movements of two other people, insanity can ensue. The add to that the use of props AND script, (it is a reading, remember), and you have a lot to juggle.

The script calls for headsets to be used by Kennedy and Castro. I tried that for the first time on Wednesday night, and found it very awkward. In fairness though, I was still trying to carry my script around. While I had planned to get off book for this show as much as possible, I wasn't on Wednesday, and I still needed the script, if I was to have any hope of mouthing actual lines.

There was brief talk of using phones instead of headsets. I am ok with this idea, but there seems to be some concerns about getting tangled up in the chords that would be required. I am not sure I totally understand this concern, but it is not a final decision yet.

In fact, for tonight's rehearsal, the possibility of phones was brought up again. But because we did not have the phones with us, the director asked the silent characters to use nothing...neither phone nor headset; instructing us instead to just recite the lines.

If this approach is adopted, it will be a highly;y stylized, almost art house sort of presentation, given that silent characters are mouthing words withing inches of those that speak and are heard. But this does have an advantage...I felt much more at ease about invoking JFK. My hands were free, and I was free to move around the stage as I "spoke". I did honestly feel that alot of my JFK mannerisms came more naturally to the surface this way.

As for the script, I found a nice place to tuck it away on the interpreters desk. So I can, in a very nonchalant manner, glance down at the next line, should I need two, as I am pacing back and forth. A careful turning of the page when someone else is talking, and it works out nicely. I have the freedom to move around, but the support of the script for the reading, should I get lost.

Again, the audience may find that a tad confusing. But really, my main job, I feel, is to non-verbally express the various emotions, and to invoke, convincingly, the mannerisms of JFK. Despite the shortcomings of the rehearsal, I felt very much able to do this tonight. If I can accomplish those two goals, the other things may not matter as much to me.

In fact, after my one and only spoken line, at the end of the play, the actress playing my interpreter did mention how much I sounded like JFK. So, if I look like him for the rest of the play as much as I sound like him in the end, I am getting to be in pretty good shape.

Which is good, given that we have just 4 more rehearsals. It will improve each time, once we get the 2 minute pantomime that opens the piece timed out properly.

Also got my costume today. A suit I wore for a previous production. So it fits nicely.

I signed on to this project looking for something unique and different. No doubts at all that I have achieved that.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I had my first real rehearsal forthe one act last night.

Sort of.

One of the cast members, (whom I had never met until last night), came in just in time to quit the show. She stayed and read through it twice with us, for some reason, before she left. The director knew she was going to quit. Her schedule got all goofy, it would seem.

Whatever her situation was, I wish it had been earlier in the process. We already missed 4 rehearsals because of her schedule, and all for nothing, because she is no longer in the show. This means that, best case scenario, we only have 7 chances to rehearse before we open the show on the 22nd.

That's best case scenario.

True, this is just a reading, but it is a very complicated concept piece. If we find a good replacement for the actress that left, we should still be ok, but based on yesterday's read through, we have our work cut out for us.

As for the rehearsal itself, despite being a bit rough at times, it was productive. The main problem, predictably, is getting the interpreters to wait the right amount of time to speak after I, and the Castro character start mouthing our sentences. A change in the blocking and the placement of the furniture, suggested after the practice, should rectify much of that the next time. This is because the leaders will now be visible to the interpreters, which they were not before.

I am not off book for this show, but I am off book for a bout a third of it. My prediction that being somewhat off book would make it easier was correct, however. The parts of the script that I do have memorized felt much more comfortable. I had more freedom to gesticulate, and pace around in character. I could mouth nonsense, but I am trying to do avoid that at all costs. So while I may not be able to be totally off book with the time allotted, I should be able to get close.

I also parted my hair like JFK last night. Or at least attempted to do so. It worked, sort of. You must keep in mind I have spent most of my life without any part in my hair. My hair issued to this. I may have to keep the part, even when I am not rehearsing, in order to train my hair to look like Kennedy's.

Or at least an approximation of same.

So that is where we stand. I am training my part (hair), trying to get off book, studying pictures and videos of Kennedy, and hoping we find a good replacement for the actress that quit.

This one may just be over before I feel I was ever in it! Strange set up. Imagine how stressed I would have felt if I would have kept the other large part I had...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Unfortunately, the cast of the one act play I am still has yet to meet for our first real rehearsal. I confess this concerns me a bit, but the situation will soon be rectified. Our first rehearsal will be tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7Pm. I look forward to it, as I have not yet even met everyone from the cast.

In the mean time I have been working on some ideas on how to represent JFK on stage. I have been to various places online, and studied video of him. Being a fan of JFK since I was a child I had some ideas of what to do, but studying actual video has brought things more into focus.

Granted, in nearly all of the videos, Kennedy is in a public forum, whereas in this play he is in a more private setting. However, it is the public persona that most people in the audience are going to recognize. And I imagine much of the public persona sprang forth from the private, one on one nature of the man. As is this case with most public figures.

I am watching his hands and arms the most, right now. Given that I do not actually resemble JFK in the slightest,utilizing similar hand gestures will be key in getting that moment of recognition from those in the audience who remember the President.

I have tried to find video of Kennedy gesticulated under various conditions. When he was emphatic, or telling a joke, or trying to explain something. I will then look for parts in this mostly comic script where the various moods would match such a hand gesture. At least as found on the archival footage I am observing. I already have several ideas.

Not that I am only looking at hands. The position of ones head when speaking is also a recognizable characteristic in a public figure. Ergo I am paying closer attention to all of that as well.

Alot of the movements will depend on how it is being staged and blocked. We will learn all of that tomorrow, I imagine. For though it is one of the plays intended to just be a reading, the director has already told us he would like us to be as free from scripts as possible. So I imagine desks and walking spaces will be involved.

Despite having no lines, I am also running the lines in my head. I do not know if I will attempt to be totally off book for it, but I want to be saying the gist of the lines, so that the interpreter will have something realistic to work off of, from a timing standpoint.

So that is where I am on the eve of the first rehearsal. I look forward to getting underway.