Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prep Work

I swung by the library today and picked up a copy of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Even though I will be getting my own private copy next week at the first read-through, (more on that in a moment), I wanted to get a bit of a head start.

Hamlet of course is a small role in this play, and I knew that going in. Now that I have looked at the script, however, I am mildly disappointed that certain of his line's did not make it into this script. Actually there is only Hamlet line in the original that could have made it into this script which I miss. "I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth..." and so on. It is delivered directly to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet, so I figured at least part of that speech was bound to be in there. It isn't.

The script does contain, however, another line of Hamlet's that, though not as famous, is one that I enjoy. Ironic that in the original it is not spoken in front of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but in this arrangement it is. He tells Polonius, who is taking his leave,  "You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I would more willing part withal." I always liked that line. It will be fun to deliver, especially if I do not like the actor playing Polonious. (I don't yet know who has that role,  but I do know there is a gentleman in the cast with whom I do not get along.)

As for the rehearsal process, it is going to be a shorter but more intense schedule than most standard shows. We will have just over four weeks, and rehearsals will be on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and occasionally Saturdays. I will not have to be at all rehearsals for a few weeks, as it will be broken down by scenes. As of yet the final schedule has not been determined, though the first read through with the cast will take place this coming Monday, June 6th.

Based on the email list sent out by the director last week, I discovered that several people I know are in this play, but again in what capacity I don't yet know. I have a few guesses.  Two of them I have not been in a play with since my very first post-college production nearly eight years ago. So it is bound to be fun and interesting either way.

Get ready to check back more often than weekly for a while,  loyal blog readers. It is show time again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Plays May Come

I'm in. I was cast in the Full Circle Theater Company's production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, in the role of Hamlet.

Despite Hamlet being, in this play, a small role, I am quite excited about it. I have not yet read the entire script, but from what I understand, all of Hamlet's brief appearances in the play consist of actual Shakespearean lines. So while my stage time will be brief, what time I have will still be the Prince of Denmark. That alone should make it extra fun, I would think.

I don't yet know when rehearsals begin, as I believe the director is still coming up with the schedule. Nor as of yet do I know who else is in the play with me. I can only assume of course that at least some of the people with whom I auditioned a week ago today will be in the play, but I suppose I cannot be sure. I could have asked, but I didn't. I will find out soon enough. I do hope that there is a mixture of new and familiar people in the cast.

I predict that this will be a well attended production, though. I don't want to jinx us of course, but this play is a rather popular one among many of my local friends. And indeed among Shakespeare fans even though it is not Shakespeare itself. And since it will take place in the summer. (First and second weekends in July), there should be many people with a lot of free time.

I myself have only seen bits and pieces of the movie version here and there, and have never read the script front to back, but based on my research, and the audition cold-reads, I can certainly understand it's appeal to certain types. Probably a play I would enjoy watching, if I were not already in it. This is just the first theatre around here that has mounted a production of it, and I was told by a friend that the movie is not a good adaptation. Hence, I have not seen it in its entirety.

This should be a especially fun production, I feel. I always look forward to starting a new show, but thus far this one fills me with a keen anticipation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Last Minute Audition

Loyal blog readers, I saved my normal Tuesday post for later in the evening, because, as luck would have it, a theatre oriented experience showed up today. And though I didn't find out about it until few days ago, I made a last minute decision to go back to the Full Circle Theater Company tonight and audition for Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

As I said, I didn't have much time to think about it, as I only got the notice in my email on Sunday. I knew that this play was on the schedule, but had not really thought much about trying out for it. I have other things going on with my time since Claudie Hukill ended back in February, (mostly my writing) and I wasn't sure if I had taken enough of a break from the theatre to dedicate to my other endeavors. But I decided that given there were at least 20 roles in this play, some of which are very small, I would throw my hat into the ring, just to keep the acting muscles sharp, and my face familiar in town. So I went in this evening.

I had only a cursory knowledge of the play. I had read or seen portions here and there over the years, and it has been the subject of many a conversation amongst fellow actors, but I had never read the whole script. It seemed a bit weird, which of course is the point for an absurdist dark comedy. As a Shakespearean derivative work, however it always held a certain interest, even though I hadn't picked up the script.

The audition itself went well for me. It was the second day of auditions. I think there were about nine or so people there. (Including someone with whom I do not get along at all, sadly.) The director explained that it is a difficult piece to have people read for, because so much of it is non-verbal, other than the two leads. I can see the difficulty in that. Given my age, I suppose, I only read for either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern at any given time, but that of course doesn't mean I will get either of or any role. It is just common sense that a director of this piece would have candidates read mostly as the two title characters. But there are in fact any number of parts that could be fun. In fact, the tiny version of Hamlet's role that appears in this play may be quite fun to play. Maybe I will get that one. I could finally say I played Hamlet.

Whatever happens, the director, (whom I know from my very first community theatre production), said that we should know something in about a week or so, because that is when she wants to start rehearsals. So perhaps by the next time I blog here, I will know. Or then again, if I know before next week, I will blog about it right away.

So stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ex Nihilo

A church down the street from me was having an indoor yard sale the other day. The have plans to leave the building once their new facility is built nearby, so I imagine that is why. I had never been inside the building before, so out of curiosity, (more than my need for mismatched plates and coffee mugs) I went in.

The predictable collection of out of style clothes, ugly brick-a-brack, obscure book titles and stuffed animals was laid out in what I imagine is their soon to be abandoned social hall. Which interested me more than any of the stuff for sale.

For you see, there was a small stage at the end of this long room. Not simply a glorified platform but an actual stage. Proscenium arch, curtain, and what appeared to be a small backstage area, with access from another room. (The curtains were partially closed so it was hard to be certain.) My rough guess is that it was 20 feet wide maybe.

There was no permanent seating, so it I assume when the stage is used, if it ever is, it would be a folding chair sort of situation. Depending on how they were arranged, I figured you could probably seat between 80 and 100 people in the place, with room for an aisle.

Obviously I will not be able to buy this building when the congregation vacates it. Yet that didn't stop my from visualizing how much theatre could be done in this venue. Not all shows, of course. You wouldn't easily fit a production of South Pacific in there. But any number of smaller, intimate plays could find a home there. Especially those with minimal sets and scene changes. Minimalist plays, like the ones I like. Shakespeare could be done easily in this diminutive performance space. Theatre is begging to be performed here.

Not that a building has to even have a literal stage to be ideal for theatre. Literally right next door to this church is an long abandoned large storefront with huge windows that I have often envisioned as a potential site for minimalist productions as well. Down the block from that is yet another such abandoned building, complete with a raised floor that is even more suitable for the same purpose. (Brunswick, Maryland is a hopelessly dead city, in case you didn't already determine that.)

The point is, it all got me thinking again about how ubiquitous live theatre can be with the right amount of involvement and interest. This church's social hall had no special lighting, no flies, no cat walk. Yet it was just waiting for theatre. Same with the other buildings I mentioned. Theatre can be done just about anywhere so long as it is dry and safe for actors and audience. One doesn't have to look far to find all kinds of non-theater venues converts into theatres. Your town may have one. Either a permanent set up, or something that has been adapted for theatrical purposes for the length of a festival or a single weekend.

I am not a fan of performing outside, but many are, and if you are one such person, you literally have almost the whole world at your disposal for a stage. Fields. Hills. Clearings in the woods. (Just get proper permission of course!)

None of this is to suggest that I personally would want to perform Hamlet in any random location. I admit I enjoy the comforts of an actual stage, dressing room, and backstage. Yet the possibility that Hamlet, or King Lear, or Greek tragedy, or, if you have money to pay royalties for it, plays like Waiting for Godot can be performed anywhere there is room for an audience to sit fascinates and excites me. Theatre truly can be brought forth out of nothing. Ex nihilo.

As versatile as the live theatre experience can be, I wonder why it is not done more often. Is it that the modern digital age moves too fast to enjoy live theatre? That the society of iPhones and Google Reader just doesn't have the attention span to appreciate a play, even if for just a few nights at the local empty former Safeway that nobody else is using?

Is it geography? Are certain areas and cities less likely to embrace it than others? Perhaps this sort of "vagrancy theatre" happen quite often where you live.

Or are people not comfortable with the idea of watching a play in an empty warehouse? Or is it just prohibitively expensive to rent an empty building for a few weeks? That could be it too. I am not sure. I have never done it.

Whatever the reasons, it is unfortunate that it doesn't happen as often as I think it could. But then again, outside of my area, perhaps it does happen a lot more often.

Theatre is, or at least can be, almost everywhere, and I find that fascinating. Though I myself would not enjoy performing everywhere, (I am very much not a fan of the Shakespeare on Subway cars thing I have been reading about), I would perform in any of the venues on this very street that I mentioned. Furthermore I would attend a play someone else was putting on in such a venue.

Ex Nihilo. Out of nothing. That is what theatre can be.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Confessions of Laziness

I confess to being a bit lazy, loyal blog readers. This manifests in my theatrical endeavors in two main ways.

The first is that I have not been reading play scripts. There are several reasons for this, not all of which are silly. Plays are sometimes harder to find in a library than novels. Newer plays generally have to be purchased, and I admit I am short on funds. And reading plays does not guarantee anybody is going to put them on, even if I like them. Plus I am a slow reader.

Yet those are not truly an excuse. An actor must be reading at least a few plays a year. I don't much care as much as others if they are older plays or more modern ones, but an actor on any level that is serious about it should be reading plays. I have not been.

Nor have I been reading monologues to memorize. These are far easier to find, and I even own my own book of same. Granted, most theatres around here do not require a prepared monologue. In fact I have only ever gone to two auditions ever that required a prepared monologue. But the fact that local theatres do not require them for their auditions is no reason for me to not be memorizing them. Doing so expands my range, keeps my brain in shape, and is just a good thing for an actor to do all the way around. But again I confess, I have not been doing as much of that as I should be.

I don't really know exactly why I have not been, outside of plain laziness. Do I suppose the question should be why I have been so lazy in regards to theatrical things. I have a few answers, none of which are excuses.

It could be because back in February I ended a long six month three consecutive play streak, and needed a break. Yet even before that I did not read as much as I should have. It could be because it is hard to for me to fall in love with a play when I know I will not likely be able to be in it in the near future. (Given the nature of theatres around here.) But that too is rather flimsy.

Maybe, and this is the only possibility to which I will give some credence, I have been immersed in my writing side more in the last year. More of my personal energies have gone towards the writing side of creative exploration than the acting side of same. I should be able to balance both, and I intend to in the future. Yet lately...

I may be more restless, physically than I used to be. I have thought about this, and I realized that sitting still long enough to absorb leisure reading is more difficult than it once was. And if true, perhaps I need to be working on that aspect of myself. Either way, restlessness is just as much the enemy as laziness. (And yes they can exist at the same time.)

All that being said, theatre is never far from my mind, even when I am working on something else. My hopes for starting my own theatre company in the next year or so are actually formulating more solid ideas in my head than previously. I may even be seeking a partner to start all of this up as soon as the summer. (Start, not be ready by summer.) And part of my writing lately, as I have mentioned here, involves a sort of one man show with some classic material as a skeletal basis. So the theatre gears are still turning.

But I would not be a true blogger of acting and theatre if I hid from my readers my weaknesses. So there are a few of them the last year or so. Laziness and restlessness. I don't know when exactly I will be back on track in regards to the actor duties I am shirking, but I do know it will happen, and than you will know of it if you keep checking the blog.

(Another theatre related effort about which I am not lazy. Has anyone noticed the new policy of at least one post a week? Not bad for my usually bone dry time between productions!)