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