Saturday, October 18, 2008

First/Last Rehearsal for "Dinner with Friends"

All on the same day!

Actually, there will in fact be a run through again tomorrow right before we do that reading. But that title sounded better.

To begin with, I have to say that while I still have reservations about the script itself, (see my previous entry), I have far fewer personal reservation about performing it now that I have met the cast and we have gone through it once.

Not that I ever dreaded doing it. I just had not yet found as much of a groove as I am wont to have when I start any kind of performance. And while "Tom" will still remain one of my least sympathetic characters (to me), a few more things came to light, and life, as I read the part with my cast mates this afternoon.

I think the best way to describe it, is that as I was reading the lines, and interacting with others, I was able to recognize this guy in my head. Perhaps not intimately know him, as I have with other roles, but as we rolled on together today, i was able to say, "oh, he;s one of those people."

What do I mean by "one of those" people? Without giving too much away of the plot of the piece, I'll say that he spends a great deal of time being insecure in everything, particularly his own identity. (In fact, as I read, i realized that all four characters share this flaw in one form or another. I had not seen that as clearly before my cast mates brought them to life today.)

Tom thinks that certain things are required to define him, even though they go counter to his nature. The play is about him realizing that his bitterness will not fade until he behaves more like his inner self desires.

Now, it's no Mickey Mouse moralizing. Tom's inner self happens to be, in my opinion, a prick. Hence a large portion of what he is doing is becoming more true to his inner prick, instead of pretending he is not one. He doesn't know that he is a prick, so I will not play him as one. But I know he is a prick, and now that I know, I can tell myself to just perform his lines, and project his moods in a way that a selfish, immature prick may do. not a perfect starting point, but something to sink my teeth into, given the short span of time I have.

I knew nobody in the cast formally. I had emailed one of them a few times. (And it so happens I know her mother...) The director, (who is also in a Christmas Carol with me) I had met way back in May during the cattle call. Which is where I also briefly met the other man in the play. But that was it, and there is always a tad more trepidation when you don't know anyone. But that faded quickly. A very fun group. Very relaxed. Which I think helped with the reading, actually. At least with the woman playing opposite of me.

There is a scene where Tom fights with his soon to be ex-wife. Fights are sometimes the most difficult thing to do in a rehearsal when you do not know your partner. (And in this case, I had never met her. Only exchanged an email or two.) But, the scene went incredibly well, according to the director, and the others present. It did feel very potent. Very powerful. It just clicked, which is good, because if that had gone awry, the rest of the play would have been more flat for it.

I guess sometimes two performances just click. Mine, and that of my opposite happened to be two that did.

I am glad this happened. I was a little concerned at first about how well i was connecting. Now that I have gained some trust with my co-stars, and come to find some truths about "Tom" in a more organic fashion, I have some more wiggle room. And to think, I will only ever have performed him three times once this is all over...24 hours from now!

How very visceral this reader presentation is turning out to be.

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