Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week O' Dickens, Day One

Last night was the first get together at Full Circle for the dramatic reading of "A Christmas Carol". An interesting group of people.

About 30 different speaking parts, amongst I think 15 or so people there. (I had originally thought there were more parts than that.) Two whole families are in this play. At least I think one of them has every member in it, I am not sure. Might have to ask.

I will be reading Bob Cratchit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Old Joe. These roles are interesting in a number of ways. First off, in last year's full regular staging of "A Christmas Carol" (follow my adventures with that show by going to the archives of October through December 2008), I also played Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Past. So in a way that is familiar territory. (And there were a few moments of flashback for me, as I was saying some of the same lines among some of the same people, in the same building.)

I was not Old Joe last year, yet he is also familiar territory. In 2003, I read for Old Joe, with this same director, in a one night only performance of a reading of a Christmas Carol. A year after that, I played Old Joe in a main stage production of the musical "Scrooge". I guess there is something about me and Old Joe.

As for the reading, as I said, it went well, though I admit I was a bit low on energy last night. That is rather uncommon for me in such situations. Not a disaster, by any means. But I think I need to work a bit harder on making some of my voices different between characters. They were distinct, but they need more personality.

I also admit to tapping into what I remember doing last year with Cratchit and the Ghost. Is this wrong? I think not. If I were to be in another full fledged production playing the same character, I may give it a bit of a different read. But then again, I may not. Unless a director would have a specific problem with me reading a certain way, why not stay with what works? (More on the interesting possibilities of being the same character a second time later in the post.)

One clever adaptation that has been made to this script, is that the role of the narrator, (which was about 80% of the lines, initially) has been broken into two narrators; one serious, and one more silly. This allows the lines to be broken up a bit, and lets the narrators play off of one another. This was a good call.

There is talk of just how much extra movement and ornamentation there is to be. The gamut can be run from simple readings, ala, actors walking into the center stage with their scripts, and simply reading with feeling, to having small costume pieces, props, music and sound effects. A decision has not yet been made, but things seem to be trending towards the minimalist. Which for a show that has one two nights to rehearse is best, I do believe.

I am however in favor of one possible idea. This story is of course broken up into staves, or acts, if you will. We may be able to get a small choral group to sing harmonized a capella Christmas carols between the staves. This I think would be a nice touch, seeing as how the reading is a culmination of a holiday party fundraiser for the theatre. The evening should be an experience that includes the reading, more so than everyone coming just for the reading. But those decisions are not mine. I just need to know where to stand and when.

The plan is to meet again Wednesday evening, and run the show twice. (It took about an hour an ten minutes last night.)

Now for a bit of trivia contemplation.

Does any of this qualify for playing the same role twice? It only matters because thus far I have never done so out of all the shows I have been in. (If you don't count parodies. I don't.) I was Cratchit last year, but in a different version of the script. Just as I was Old Joe in years past, but again a much different script. So in those cases it might be the same character, but not the same role. And there is a difference.

Old Joe is where this comes into play.

About six years ago I was in a reading of a Christmas Carol, under the same director. In that reading I read Old Joe. The script we are reading this year is BASED on that script, but as I said, somewhat adapted. So it is not technically the same script, even though all of Old Joe's lines are the same.

So, is this playing the same role in the same show again? Or does the adaptation of this script make it different? I'd be curious on anyone's thoughts on this one!


Sara said...

I say different!

I participated in a staged reading for the same character nearly 5 years apart. It was a play in letters- the first time I read it I was in Grad school-and about 22. As an "adult" at 27 when I got to do the role a second time, it took on a whole different meaning. So I chalk that up to 2 different roles- as 2 different thought processes were involved!

Ty Unglebower said...

Interesting way of looking at that, Sara. I had not thought of the idea of it being a different role, when approached by the same actor in a totally new perspective.

"A play in letters," you say. Did it happen to be "Love Letters" by any chance? I was in that one earlier this year.

Sara said...

No...it was "Roses in December" a great play! I actually got to do it with the author...before it was performed Off-Broadway! I have never seen "Love Letters"...its on my list though!

Heather said...

I have no advice for you Ty but I am enjoying your posts.