Saturday, March 29, 2008


As a belated birthday gift, my mother purchased for me The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues.

I have not had a chance to look through it much, but from what I can tell, there is all kinds of material there.

It will hopefully encourage me to add a few more monologues to my repertoire. Granted, most of the theatres I have auditioned for locally have not required prepared pieces. But if I ever go anywhere else, or decide to give the semi-pro thing a try, it's really a good idea to have a few on the top of one's head, when needed.

Plus, working on some of them will be good memorization practice, as well as brief characterization work. Both are beneficial to the actor without a play at any given moment.

My old acting professor used to say he preferred that students read the whole play from which a monologue they were performing came from. That it is the best way to understand the motivations or a particular speech. I suppose it is the BEST way, and nothing is stopping me from reading all 150 plays from which this collection is culled. But, I think there is still benefit to be gleaned from working with monologues even from shows I have not read completely.

I look forward to delving into this one.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


For no particular reason, I just went to my alma mater's theatre website site. I have not been to it EVER until today, but in the FAQ section, what do I chance to find?

Why, a picture of none other than yours truly, on stage as Doc O'Connor in "The Laramie Project". This would place the picture in November of 2002.

For all I know, there is a different picture on each page of the site every day. Or it could have been there for years. (I am not complaining, I was always aware publicity shots were being taken when I was on stage.) It was just highly humorous to find myself there, on the first visit I ever made to the site.

If you are interested to see if it is still there by the time you read this, it can be found here.

I cannot help but wonder about the irony...not just of me happening on the site after all these years tonight. But of me being the picture that graces the "frequently asked questions" page. Intentionally or not, I am probably one of the students who asked the most during my acting experiences there.Not all of them were of the highest caliber I am sure, but I smile at the notion of it today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Rules Are Mine

When you keep a blog, you are going to, without fail, get nasty words from someone. I have, and of course I have no desire to publish them. I will not. The only thing I will say is that short of breaking the law, or calling for the breaking of the law, I have EVERY right to say, write, and express whatever it is that I desire to express on the topic of theatre.

I will also point out that those of you not satisfied with my opinions need not read.

Finally, my comments, as harsh as they are to accept, (probably because they hit very close to home for some), have my name attached directly to them, in direct contrast to the nasty commentary and accusations I received from "Anonymous".

So, "Anonymous", if you think I have no reason to conclude what I conclude in any of my posts, and would chalk it all up to my personal biases, as you say, I encourage you to put your name to your baseless complaints. Otherwise, go back to whatever two bit performance day dream you crawled out of when you insulted me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More on Kissing...

Once again, someone was kind enough to leave comments on my "Kiss is Just a Kiss" post.

I want to say to "anonymous", that I understand that concerns that you are having. I was somewhat lucky in "Baby" back then, because I was on friendly terms with the actress whom i would have to kiss.

Your comments actually bring up another interesting point that I had not considered all this time...I think it is somewhat more difficult for the actor who must engage the kiss, than it is for the person being kissed. My first stage kiss, and indeed, 90% of the kisses in that first kissing play I was in, were initiated by the female character. I was merely the recipient. Ice has to br broken for both parties of course, but in your case, I can see how the person who has to b the more assertive character might have a more awkward first stage kiss experience.

I myself, if you want my view, "anonymous", would not worry much about whether he finds your kiss so unpleasant as to want the play to be over quickly. As silly as this sounds, if he is trying to assess how "good" or pleasant the kiss is from his own personal perspective, than he is not exactly on target with where he ought to be in the play. His job should be on making things look convincing, bring his character to life, and moving the scene forward.; The kiss being another part of that. I know this will not allay your discomfort totally, but try to think of it as another bit of blocking...and if he cannot, than it is not your fault that things are awkward as you rehearse.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and I hope you come again!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"We've Reached the End of It...."

A quotation from my former character, Geoffrey, and as good a title as any for this last entry about the last day of "The Lion in Winter".

The first thing I have to say is that I was most comfortable and proud of my performance tonight, out of all the rehearsals and performances. On a closing matinée to turn in your best performance. Go figure.

But then again, the whole show was arguably at it's best today. Great energy, snappy line deliveries. The crowd was decent sized, and responsive. Not sure if they were as responsive as last night, but, as is often the case, with matinee crowds, they laughed less, but some of the things they laughed at were different than what other crowds laughed at. So it is almost worth the trade off.

For example, I could finally hear laughter for my favorite line, and the best line in the whole play, which I had the pleasure of delivering....

"I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We a knowledgeable family."

I am told other crowds laughed, but other than my mother, tonight was the only time I actually heard anyone do so. There was a discussion as to what may have been different, other than the crowd tonight. I delivered somewhat faster, with a slightly different rhythm, for one. And, as often is the case in a final show, when one feels a bit freer, I added a bit of something...I slapped Richard on the shoulder as I walked passed delivering the last part of the line.

Whether for these reasons, or others, they laughed. Bulls eye.

Not that this was be any means the only time there was some last day add-libbing. Not of lines, but of motions, expressions, pitch, movements, etc. Even from backstage I could tell my cast mates were playing around a bit more with someone of their lines...with an improvement just about everytime. (Why oh why do shows always peak when they are over??? Is it the extra freedom of the closing day? Or the exact amount of practice to performing tends to hit a ratio than peaks the show at that time, for a community theatre? A mystery I have never I have longed for a third weekend sometimes!)

Not all improvisations were intended to improve things. Sometimes, things had to be done to correct something. To give myself some credit, I think I pulled off one of the smoothest, most naturally motivated corrections of my career.

One day a few weeks ago, "John" improvised a moment, wherein he stood up on a chair, a delivered a line..(I'm king again!). Everyone loved it and we kept it.

But in performances, somehow the chair always got pushed under the table, making the move impossible. People wracked their brain to figure out what went on.

So as I was going out today for that scene...I was warned not to push the chair in too far, when I walked passed it. I made sure..but moments later, our "Eleanor" walked right passed it and pushed it in. The mystery was solved! But still no chair to stand on.

Then it hit me. In the previous part of the scene, Henry had left documents on the table. Glances over, I simply walked behind all the action, picked up the documents to peruse them, while ever so slowly pulling the chair out from under the table. (Henry and Richard and tearing each other up, meanwhile, center stage.) When it was out far enough, I put the papers down, and returned to my place...most people none the wiser. John did his move, and the scene ended. I was met with exuberant techies, who applauded my ingenuity.

I am proud, myself. You always want things to go perfect...but sometimes it is when things go wrong, and one must correct them, that one can truly test one's skills as an actor. It was by no means a huge deal...but to see a problem, solve it, and go back to the status quo, while creating believable motivation to do front of a live's exciting, and rewarding, when it works. Praise the theatre god, today it worked.

In other avenues, I found my minimalist accent was more pronounced and natural tonight. I never really worked on one in any great detail. A few words, suggesting something other than America was all I was really going for. But today it seemed to flow into more words, and come easier.

And so The Lion in Winter has given it's final roar. At least in this form. I shall miss it, more than most shows, as of course this was a dream role for me. I would do it again for another company next week if I was asked. I cannot say that for all shows I am in. Sometimes, once is enough. But this show, I could do again, and probably again. It's one of those shows for me.

I will especially miss my "vulnerable" scene with Eleanor. I have talked about it here before. Short, but rewarding part of the play for me. I will also miss the final scene, when the boys try to escape, and speak of killing Henry. Playing with the knives, telling "Mummy" to go to hell, after finally having enough of her antics. Having Henry toss me a knife from across the stage, daring me to attack him. (A knife, which I would like to point out for the record, I never dropped from day one in rehearsal or performance.) Such an intense scene, in a role where I was not usually that outwardly intense. Always winded and exhilarated at the end of it. "Gorgeous".

I will mis many other things as well. Those just stand out most.

I will not miss standing behind a curtain, unable to move for a half an hour. I will not miss the taste of tepid Shepherdstown tap water out of a silver goblet. I will not mis having no bathrooms backstage. But when you get down to it, that is not a lot to complain about for the chance to be in one of one's favorite shows.

I rose to the challenge that is Geoff, and the satisfaction of performing a dream role well is one I will not spoil with endless discussion. Suffice to say, in the end, though short, this run was very rewarding for me as an actor.

So my thanks to my director, the cast, and the crew of Full Circle Theater Company's "The Lion in Winter"...for making a dream role real, and letting me help to build even more onto this brand new company.

Now, that there is no chance of influence on me, I am going to go watch my favorite movie..."

"My barge is leaving, and I don't want to miss the tide...."

About Last Night....

It was, hands down, our best overall performance of the show! Tiny snags, of course, but for me, and for several others in the cast, it was a very memorable evening.

The audience played a large part. They were slightly larger than our last two audiences, and were without doubt, more responsive. (Though "Eleanor" and I were commenting afterwards how funny it is that a responsive audiences can sometimes laugh at things you never expect, while at the same time giving you nothing at moments you think are going to kill such an audience.) Unlike most of the people in the first two audience, this one continues to find things to laugh at right up until the end. The other two, as a unit, sort of petered out halfway through act 2, by and large. This one was still getting some of the jokes, and was willing to laugh at them, in the final ten minutes.

It seems to be a more biting crowd. Perhaps I should say, they were more willing to laugh at some of the biting, nasty moments in the play. Those razor sharp, quick moments of invective really hit this audience. The result not always being uproarious laughter, but sustained, muffled sneering guffaws of some sort. No doubt at all a reaction...just one I do not commonly hear, though this is the sort of play that gives opportunity for such "evil laughter", for lack of a better term.

As always, this sort of energy from the audience led to more energy on stage, which in turn led to new things showing up in the performances. While I was in a scene with John that was going well, I suddenly realized that at some point in the play, just about every other "family" member slaps him on the cheek when saying something to him. I did not have a moment in the play where I had done that before. So, at my first chance, I threw it in. It worked well, I sensed the crowd enjoyed it, and "John" later told me it was a good decision.

Not that I was the only one to do things a bit different in the John/Geoffrey interactions. John, at one point, is upset at Geoffrey. The actor usually pokes me during that speech, but this time sort of planted his fist rather firmly into my stomach. Not enough to wind me or anything, though I did have to swallow hard for a moment, and my stomach stung a bit afterwards. "John" must have sense it was too hard, because he apologized after the scene was over.

Then in the very next scene, as my stomach is still recovering, "John" pokes his finger, you guessed it, right into the center of my stomach. Not as bad that time, but still tender. More amusing than painful, we both laughed about it later. My stomach has always been a sensitive organ...

But moments like those, for better or worse, (almost always better) showed up in spades last night, I thought. In line deliveries if nothing else. Just the extra something that all stage actors know about. That extra character I am always referring to here on the blog. It was, for the most part, present last night.

Everyone gets better each night, and last night was the moment I think we really hit the tempo and rhythm of the piece. (Of course, on our second to last run of the show, as "Henry" pointed out afterwards.) I think, despite the struggle involved in such a schedule, those community theatres that do more than two weekends, (Or in the case of Muzak Box, do shows throughout a week) do have a better chance of having more spot on performances like we had last night, because of the sheer repetition of the thing. No doubt it's a different way of doing things that has it's own flaws. But I would be interested to try it at some point. Too many of my shows peak at the last minute.

But better to have one great night show up late, then to never have it show up. Plus we have one more show today. Matinee, yes, but I get the feeling lots of the people who wanted to come but could not so far might try to show up today, which will give us a large crowd, numbers wise. How responsive they will be...who knows?

Saturday, March 01, 2008


At the deepest part of me...or at least at the part of me that does this...I am convinced you cannot act in a vacuum. More accurately, I am convinced nobody wants to act in a vacuum. And it is no sort of treason to say that true excellence in this endeavor of theatre cannot be achieved in a vacuum.

And if professional actors say otherwise, I feel emboldened enough to say I think they are full of sh*t.

Acting is not meant for a vacuum. I stand by that.