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.

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