Thursday, January 10, 2008

Eve of the Beginning

Tonight, barring a last minute schedule change, will be the first read-through for "The Lion in Winter". I eagerly look forward to it.

Of course, I always look forward to the first read thorough of a new production, but I have been anticipating this opening more so than most.

I have, as I said before, been familiar with the script for some time. Despite that, I have been going over it for the last few weeks off and on, and for the last week in particular. The richness of the dialog is all the more palpable now that I know I and my colleagues will be delivering it ourselves. Setting aside for the moment the fact that we have no officially met, and the director has not yet shared her specific vision for the piece, I can already see, or even feel some parts of scenes unfolding on the stage. I know several of the people that will be in the cast, so projecting the broad strokes of how it might feel and sound in my mind's eye is not an impossible task.

I already like what I am sensing. It can only improve as we get under way officially.

A friend of mine asked me if I am liable to be disappointed with the experience simply because I have anticipated the chance of playing this role for so long.

"Can anything," they asked me recently, " like up to the hype you have for it in your mind?"

I can say with confidence that this will not cause a de factor disappointment, though I did challenge them on the way they phrased the question.

There has been no "hype" in my mind about the possibility of playing this role in this play. Hype to me indicates something that cannot be backed up with reality. Or something that has all style, and no substance heading into its genesis. Something that may or may not live up to all the words surrounding it. Yet for me, playing Geoff in The Lion in Winter is not something that I have hyped in my mind. I have never had, no even do I have now, a precise prediction on every nuance or detail of the upcoming experience. The part has not been a dream role because I have seen some perfectly orchestrated mental movie of where every atom will fly, every strand of hair will fall, and every word will carry. It has been the longing to partake in a process invovling the building of that character which I have longed for for quite some time.

It is a process whose general characteristics I am familiar with. After 20 odd shows so far in my career, I know the sense of finding the exact line reading that works, or the epiphany of finding a comfortable motivation. The sanding off of the rough edges of a performance. When I as an actor do my homework and commit myself to excellence, these things should, in varying degrees, be inevitable, regardless of the role or the play. So it is that potential for the extras, based on how much a role sings to you on paper that builds the longing to engage in that process within a certain play...and hence what causes me my great anticipation tonight.

The more emotionally invested in, or perhaps connected to, a character you feel even before you ever audition for it anywhere, the greater the possibilities for those extra moments, those that transcend the process, rehearsals, the script and even one's own talents. Call them magic, if you like cliche'. But whatever they are called, I have found that they make themselves more visible when you feel that deep connection to something you have read, and you finally get a chance to play it. I think that is what actors are often thinking of when they mentioned their "dream roles". At least, that is a reasonable approximation for what I mean. (Though it still falls short.)

Yet on the eve of beginning this play, I have no overt concern about finding the right words to describe it. I only thought it prudent that I share the feelings with you, my loyal blog readers, here today, and to assure all of you, as well as my friend, that I have not set my sites too high for the character. I just wanted a chance to do all of the grueling work that acting requires to as to bring this particular role to life. That sort of work always pays off somehow, and I look forward to starting it.

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