Friday, January 30, 2015

Short Rehearsal, Short Post

I rehearsed today in the afternoon, as opposed to the evening as I have been the last few times. The venue was available as was I, and the weather forecast called for some nasty winter weather in the evening.

So, guess what happened? Yes, the bad weather moved earlier into the day, unannounced after I already got to the theater.

Truth be told the weather was fine when I went in, and got started. I heard rain on the roof for a while, but that's common in that place. I continued with act one as normal, determined to jump right into act two without a faux intermission, just so I could get home earlier. It was after I used the restroom upon completion of act one that I checked outside...and found snow mixed with sleet on on salted roads.

I packed up, shut down the theater, and came home.

Turns out it wasn't as bad on some of the roads later on in my trip, and I suppose I could have stayed and finished act two. But commuter traffic was already picking up, and there's no way of knowing if the weather would have gotten any worse in town. So though I regret not getting to act two, I don't regret leaving earlier. It was probably the wiser and safer choice.

Act one was solid, though. I'm feeling quite good about it. The length remains just over an hour, which is pretty much right where it ought to be, I think. Fewer stumbles than last time. Remembered some of the new blocking ideas I came up with on Tuesday. So it was a productive rehearsal, just not for the whole play.

I think on Thursday, when I next have access to the venue, I might go ahead and start with act two, just to catch up. That has been the part of the play that has needed the most polish. Then again, I do want to run the whole show at once as much as I can between now and opening. If the weather offers no potential of having to  bail out early, I may go ahead and run the show from the top after all.

Wish there was more to report, but there should be on Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rehearsal Hiatus and Return

Rehearsal last night, after not having any on Thursday. Turns out I had some other things I had to take care of then, so I opted not to rehearse. I was however back on stage last night. (Tuesday.)

The biggest change in rehearsal last night was my costume; I wore it for the first time for a rehearsal. Not that I expected any problems with it, but there none. I'll most likely wear it from here on out. I might get a different pair of pants, but otherwise the costume is set. As are all the props. Everything I need for the various scenes is now on set, so I'm ready to go.

I stumbled over a few lines here and there last night, but on the whole I got through the whole show mostly unscathed. Perhaps some of the best news from last night is that I shaved more minutes off of the second act. It is now under and hour, and if I can keep it like that, I'll be more than satisfied.

Act one ran the same length give or take two minutes, that it has run for months now, even before I had access to the stage. I love that consistency.

No overlap between my rehearsal and the other show's rehearsal last night.

Another good blocking idea came to me. During one of the speeches, wherein the character is more vulnerable, I thought to move up stage, so as to give him a more diminutive feel to the audience. I think I'll keep it. It's actually gratifying to realize how many tricks and concepts come to me in the natural course of rehearsing a play by myself. Concepts that I have studied over the years, but have not had much of a chance to put into use for a while. They seem to not be there in my mind anymore, until all at once, they present themselves for use during a rehearsal. Many of my colleagues are stronger with blocking magic than I am, but I have to say I am better at it than I sometimes give myself credit for.

My character has a bottle of water on him during the show. If nothing else I need to make sure I have that. It's a lot of talking, and I'll need to hydrate numerous times throughout the course of the evening, I'm sure.

The managing director of the arts center I'm performing this in has been in contact with some people about making posters for my show, though none have called back. I myself may check on possibilities myself, for I have no graphic design knowledge. I have said that all the posters really needs by way of graphics is a crown surrounded by some of the common objects I use throughout the show. Or some such configuration. Truth be told, if they get my name and the dates correct, that's what is most important to me for this, though I understand how important a nice looking poster can be.

As for lights, I don't think I'll be making use of any light cues. If someone can man the lights, to bring them up and down at the start and finish of each act, that should be enough. Whether or not I will be using the work lights or the actual stage lights is yet unknown. Even if it is the stage lights, it will be a general coverage plot without any fades or cross lighting. Simplicity. Always simplicity for this show.

My next scheduled rehearsal day is tomorrow (Thursday.) I may have the option to rehearse late morning or afternoon, depending on what else may be going on there that day. I may prefer that to my usual late night slot for tomorrow. The weather, if no other reason. It may snow a bit in the evening, but is supposed to be clear in the day time. Parking is free at night, though. Decisions.

Progress, though, is being made. I would not want to perform the show for an audience tonight, but if I absolutely had no choice, I feel I could give them a solid performance. Hopefully four weeks from now, (from this very night in fact) the presentation will be even more solid, and entertaining. If I'm honest with myself, I have to say I feel there is something good happening with this show, that audiences will enjoy.

Just have to make sure plenty of people come.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Late Show

Due to scheduling conflicts, last night, (and for several future nights) I rehearsed The King is But a Man at the venue late into the night. I started around 9:00 PM and left the theater around midnight. (The show is not that long, I had some set up work to do first.) It'snot an ideal situation, but given my freelance employment situation, and my tendency to be a night owl, I'm able to adjust in this fashion for now.

There is a certain mystique to a theater late at night anyway. Reminds me of my time in college, where we would sometimes paint sets or even rehearse late into the night.

Yet the play remains the thing, and rehearsing my play was the point of being there in the first place.

I ran the entire show, after running just the less-rehearsed act two last week. From here on out I want to run the whole show each night I'm over there.

There are still some bumps to be ironed out, but the polish is starting to appear, as it were. Certain effective blocking ideas have come about as I go through each section which lend more power and interest at any given time. (That is the hope, anyway.) The choices as to where to move and where to stand are feeling more motivated.

I also added a prop. I've been meaning to find myself a dagger to use briefly, but I hadn't located one that felt right. Last night before I started I was exploring some of the prop boxes and found one that will work. One less thing to mime once I get to the point of needing it.

I have one more prop to secure that I keep forgetting to set out. A simple book. I never think of it until I need it as i rehearse. So simple an object it's probably why I forget it.

Managed to shave a few minutes off of the running time as well. One reason is that I picked up the energy and in some scenes, the speed of my delivery. Also, a few sections I wrote myself that were a bit fluid are starting to solidify; I'm more efficient in those stretches of the performance than I had been a week ago. I hope to shave even a few more minutes off.

Perhaps one of the more significant developments from last night is that for a time there were people working in an adjacent room when I started. I would have preferred to not have them there, but it cannot be helped it would seem. All by way of saying that though there business was elsewhere in the small building, I was for the first time while rehearsing cognizant of the possibility of being heard by someone. As it turned out, nobody from the other group came through the front section of the building on their way out as I thought they might, but at the time I had to swallow my concerns and just accept someone might have observed me for a few moments.

Knowing that injected the first "audience" dynamic to at least the first half of the rehearsal. (By act two the other folks were long gone.) Though none of them likely heard what i was doing, there was a certain nervousness, followed by a certain relief of having done this. I can say that despite the situation not being completely ideal, I performed to my own "in front of people" standards. In some cases better than i would have expected for a rehearsal this early in the process. Here's hoping that holds.

I haven't worn my full costume yet, though I have worn pieces. It's probably time to start, however. I want to get used to the actual clothing as soon as possible, and it's possible any time I choose. (Since I am also in charge of costuming of course.) That probably means I need to suck it up and perform in the chilly air from here on out. (The heating system is finicky right now.) But at least that will encourage me to keep moving.

Tomorrow I am slated to have a rehearsal, but a few things have come up in the evening which may not allow me to go. I have the option of going in in the afternoon instead of the evening, which I may do. But given some unrelated stresses in my week so far, I may opt to just wait until next Tuesday for my next official rehearsal. I will sleep on it.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Falling Into Place

On Thursday, I rehearsed act 2 of the show. That half has gotten less time over the last few months than the first half, so I've dedicated a few rehearsals on the stage to only the second act. This isn't that odd, really. Many standard shows get to a point in the final few weeks where they rehearse all of one act one night, and all of the second act another night. In that regard, I'm staying somewhat true to a more standard rehearsal process.

My intention was to go through it twice, but I only did so once. Not because it's too long, (though it still is by several minutes) but because by the time I was done, it felt like a good place to end rehearsal. There were several loose ends and other issues with those sections that I was able to improve or fix. I did in fact shave a little time off of the second act, and I also came into some more efficient ways to deliver certain aspects of the material. And though a lot of the blocking is organic as I perform, there are aspects of it that remain consistent each time. On Thursday a few more guideposts suggested themselves which I hadn't considered before. I will probably keep several of them if not all.

I don't know if I will stick to just act two on my next rehearsal night (Tuesday), or start running the show show top to bottom. I can't wait too long to run everything at once of course, but I may need a bit more time for act two to catch up to act one. Which presents the question, will I be running only act one on any given night? The answer is maybe. There are a few tiny moments in act one that could use some work. Yet I feel so comfortable with act one that I don't, for the moment, feel it needs it's own night. Act two, however could use a few multiple run-through nights if I'm honest with myself.

I still have a few props that I mean to secure, but don't think of until I'm standing there performing and don't have them. Must correct that soon, especially since there are not that many props in the show to begin with.

I'm finding it takes me a bit longer to get "warmed up" to rehearse this show than it normally does. The reason I think is obvious; when you are accountable only to yourself in a rehearsal as opposed to directors and cast mates, you stay rusty a bit longer at the start of things. When rehearsal starts in a standard show, you need to be ready right off.

Even then, however, there is some amount of time to ease into everything. I considered that for the first time on Thursday as well. In a normal show I am there early, and sort of loosen up in any number of ways before I begin. Being the only person involved in producing this show, there is no showing up early. As soon as I'm there, everyone is there. The first few times on the stage I think I overlooked that, and jumped right into rehearsing. On Thursday I gave myself some time to just walk around and get some water, stretch out and just loaf for a few minutes. The same sort of things I'd do before a more standard rehearsal. Then I started in earnest, and I feel it helped. I must remember to give myself that warm up time from here on out when I rehearse alone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Looking For Space

Okay, I'm not actually looking for it. I know right where it is. But I am getting used to the space, how's that?

Last night I was back at the Black Box Arts Center rehearsing for my one man show, The King is But a Man. Mostly I ran act two, because I've had less time with that half of the play over the last few months. I'm not so far behind as to be worried, as I'm off book with it. But nonetheless it has a few rougher edges than act one which need to be softened a bit over the next few rehearsals.

I'm very familiar with this performance space, having been on it in many different shows. Yet this is the first time I've been doing a one-man show on it, (or any where for that matter.) The special challenge, therefore, is to make sure I use all of the space so as not to remain stagnant the entire evening, but also avoid running around the stage just for the sake of saying I used every inch of it. I don't anticipate this being a difficult task, but it will require a few run throughs in order to attain said balance.

It's a small venue, as it's name would indicate, so I want it to also be an intimate engagement with the audience. It's not an audience participation show, by any means, but I still want to maintain that comfortable, conversational feel. That will probably be what I focus on more next week. It's already there to some degree given the nature of the material, but I want to play around with it a bit more.

I've not yet worn my full costume during these rehearsals. One reason is that the heat is out and I would be cold, but just as importantly, I'm trying to replicate a standard rehearsal process as much as I can with this one man show. Costumes don't come right away in most rehearsal processes, so they haven't for this one. I sense, nonetheless, that I will make use of them earlier in the process than would be the case in most standard performances. I just want to get used to the feel of things. Especially since a pocket plays a prominent role in more than one place, and the sooner I'm used to the actual pocket, the better.

Given some of the lumps for the second half, I'll probably spent at least one more day working on just that section of the play, before returning to running the show show again. Maybe even two more nights, depending on how I feel after the next time I use the stage. (Thursday.)

In any case, new ideas and perspectives are emerging each time I run the show now. I look forward to the coming rehearsals.

Friday, January 09, 2015

New Year, New Project

I am still around, folks. Further, so is my interest in theatre. Sadly, there has not been much to report on since the staged reading of "Over the River and Through the Woods" back in September. But that's all about to change.

I've mentioned several times over the last year about a one man show I've developed. I'm happy to report that The King is But a Man is officially in the rehearsal process.

Actually, I should amend that statement a bit. I have been going over speeches and sections of it in my home for months now. But last night was the first time I ran the entire thing in one sitting, as well as doing so on stage. I've been giving access to the Black Box Arts Center for a number of rehearsals, in preparation for the show opening there on February 27th. That will hopefully be the first of several stops for the show, as I hope to at some point take it to other venues.

But first things first.

Last night was about getting a sense of the stage, and how to use it for this show. I've been on that performance space many times over the last few years, but every show is different, and there's nothing like feeling it out in person. This is a minimalist production, but I still have a set piece here and there, along with some props laying about in various places. Most of them act as decoration more than anything else, but I don't want them to be distractions. I think I've found good places for all of them, with maybe some tweaking in the coming days.

As for the use of space itself, the blocking is somewhat organic. There are certain crosses and other movements written into the performance, but I want to preserve a sense of spontaneity as well. This not only makes for a more dynamic show (in this case), but will keep things open for when I perform it in other places. In theory, I should be able to tailor the experience to fit the venue I am performing in at any given time. But as I am starting at the BBAC, that's where much of the thought has gone for the moment.

If you are the only person on stage, the key, as with so much, is to find balance. If one stays in one place the whole time, it can bore people to tears. Yet move around too much, and you might make people skittish or distracted. My balance is not perfect yet, but I already see directions I need to take after one rehearsal.

That's the big take away from last night; all kind of ideas and solutions presented themselves as I worked. There is a lot of polishing still to be done, but possibilities I had not considered at all as I was rehearsing at home became almost obvious as I ran the show on the stage. Though early in the rehearsal process, even on my own I could feel a new type of life force entering the material.

I hope to shave some minutes off of the running time, but I imagine that will happen the more I rehearse on the stage. I'm not worried about that right now.

Energy will be a concern as well. Projected energy that is. Though I sit down while performing several times in this show, intermission is the only real break I will get. As with any other play in the world, low energy on stage will sap energy from the audience. In a one man show you have nobody to feed off of on stage. It's all up to you. I must always keep that in mind. I'd say last night I was good with energy about 70% of the time. I felt it slipping a few times, but I think I corrected pretty well.

Not that I know for sure. I can't see myself as I perform. As I am "directing" myself in this, I was all alone in the theatre last night. This alone is a unique challenge.

Ideally, someone would have directed me in my own material. That feedback and guidance can be valuable. But we work with what we have, and nobody was available to fill that role, thus I fill it myself. I must keep both practical and performance considerations in mind as I do this. (Another good reason for it to be minimalist.) If I have to err on one side or the other at any given time, I'll choose erring on the side of performing.

It's an extra labor, though. One I am not used to. Packing my things, going to the theater, letting myself in, setting up the stage and running through the show, all without accountability to anyone but myself. It will pay off in the end, of course, and I find the challenge rewarding in a unique way. But there is something about working with others, and communicating ideas throughout a cast and crew that I miss while doing this.

On the other hand, I only have to answer to myself as well. I don't have to worry about being late, or someone else's scene taking too long, or being annoyed by a cast member I don't like. Every moment I am there is spent in exactly the manner I think is best. Believe me, you'll never get that in a regular show with a full cast.

So the next level of this adventure begins, and I will be covering it regularly here on the blog. The oddities of a one man show aside, it will be good to be back on stage again, and I hope you will join me on the blog as at last I have something regular to share with you again.