Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Basics of the Base

Last night was the second full rehearsal for me for what we are calling "An Evening of Nostalgia". One of the cast members was absent, and a table full of sound props was in place, but other than that, things were basically the same as the night before. Though I did experiment with using a cigarette during the first half of the show, and that went well. I feel it will add a bit more to the character I am playing.

Actually, I should say the base character I am playing, since we all are playing not only the roles within the skits, but also the radio performers themselves between skits, and at the start of the play. I still have work to do with all of the above, but odd as it sounds I think I will in some ways enjoy my mostly silent base character the most. I am fascinated by that era and radio during same. not so much the shows of the era, as I don't know much about them, but by the nature of the medium back then, and the nature of the people involved in it.

I have a bit of a unique challenge in this regard, however. My base character is ostensibly the stage manager of this production. As such he is on stage first as the audience trickles in, performing equipment checks and such. He is also, in theory, supposed to be giving cue to the sound people and the musicians. (Though the timing of that has not been worked out very well as of yet.) Yet this stage manager is also reading three parts within the skits himself. I'm not sure if this would ever actually happen. But since it is happening for our show, the problem lie in explaining, to myself if not to anybody else, why the stage manager's job is so vital for the first two skits, and then becomes non-existent for the second half of the show. (I won't be giving the cues while I am performing.) This detail may not bother a lot of people, but these are the things about which I am always thinking when I am becoming a character in a play. Especially one as open ended as this.

Yet that open ended nature of the character may help with this dilemma somewhat. We are to each write a fake biography for our base character, to be included on a poster in the lobby of the theatre during the show. Not only does this give me a good launching point for a character, (I have sometimes employed this technique on my own to give more depth to my performances), but I may use it to make mention of what someone would be both stage manager and performer in one show. I will have to work on that, but I look forward to creating it.

I'd also like to create a bit more variation in the voices I will be using for the various skits. One of them has a distinct sound, but I need something else for the supposed horror story. Something richer than what I have been using. Despite the setting of that piece, I'd like to avoid an accent, but it may be just the thing I need. More consideration is required on this topic as well.

We don't meet again until next Tuesday, with some set work being done by the director and others on Saturday. So it should look even more like a radio station by then.

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