Monday, November 10, 2008

"Topp"ing off the Weekend.

Sunday night, weekly post. Deferring, as usual when I am in a play, to covering the rehearsal process.

Which continued this weekend despite some snags. Our work space seems to shrink each day, due to construction equipment, and leftover demolition detritus. But we muddle through somehow, and we get the job done. (The first chair-filled risers are in place and ready to go. Starting to take shape, despite a long way to go in a short time.)

We are still working on blocking. I think today we blocked the last of the scenes that remained to be blocked. Meaning that now we will be running the scenes more or less from start to finish, barring major changes which always happen to a show's blocking as time goes on.

Nevertheless, progress will begin to speedup from here on out each rehearsal night.

We worked on blocking various scenes in the last two days. But the one that has got me thinking most is that scene during Christmas Present, at Fred's house. The party scene where they talk about Scrooge. One "Topper" is present. In this production he is played by yours truly.

Topper is in the novel, and though he does in fact appear in some movie versions by name, as often as not he is skipped, or blends into the scene without much comment. Even in versions where he has a few lines, I find that he is often a through away character. I was determined not to let that happen to my version of him.

From the first moment I read the part during the read-through a few weeks ago, I gave Topper a sort of arrogant, rambling delivery...a mix of Peter O'Toole and James Bond I think. I do not agree with my cast mates who have declared him a total sleaze. That is not how I am playing him, nor is that how I wish him to come off. But I do wish him to be an assertive, laid back sort of personality. Like the type one might find in a lounge.Or perhaps what an early movie star would be like, had movies existed in 1843.

Nonetheless he must put the move son Fred's sister-in-law, and I wanted his interest to be obvious, but not creepy. Given that some of my cast mates have commented on him being a sleaze, I may have to alter my presentation somewhat. I will see how things progress without books in hands.

One thing is clear, however...I am not throwing away old Topper. In fact, I asked the director if he could have a pipe.

In an ensemble piece like this, it's vital that each character an actor plays have some sort of prop or costume piece. As I ran the Topper scene, a pipe just seemed to naturally present itself as his hand prop.

As for the other characters...more thought is required. At least one of them could wear glasses. That seems like a very easy thing to take on and off.

Speaking of costumes, we were measured today. A small and uninteresting, but nonetheless true fact.

As for lines, I am off book for the most part, for act one. Act Two is going to take some work over the next week. But better half done than none at all. Next time we run act one scenes, I should be set, with someone on book. One rehearsal after that I don;t think I will even require that much.

One final bit of trivia. Today I engaged in the coldest read in my life.

They were conducting auditions for the spring play in the building today. I literally had not yet said hello to anyone, or put down my bag, when the director handed me a script and asked me to help out by reading one of the parts. Which I did.

I knew basically nothing about this play, other than the fact they were going to produce it next year. Seemed interesting, to say the least.

I lept in head first, knowing nothing, and read the part of "Heisenberg" (The guy who came up with the Uncertainty Principle. How is that for irony???) The play is "Copenhagen".

To be honest, given the instantaneous nature of the request, and the small amount of info I had, I think I read pretty damn well.

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