Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Radium Girls Finale

Radium Girls is concluded. Has been for several days, and I've been slowly getting back to some of the things that being in the show delayed. Ironically, this blog was one of those things.

The second weekend, though  by no means problem free, was stronger than the first, from an acting perspective. Saturday was our biggest crowd at the Black Box, probably about 30 people. Good crowd. The crowd for the closing matinee was smaller by about ten people, but arguably more responsive. My mother came on Friday.

As is sadly often the case, very few of my personal friends came to the show. No need to elaborate on that disappointing fact.

I personally felt that I myself gave stronger performances this weekend than I did last weekend. For whatever reason, right up until the end I always felt more nervous during my single scene as "Dr. Flinn." I've never been sure why this was the case. It could be because the scene required a long, rambling speech. It could be that I wasn't cast in the role from the beginning. That may seem silly, but all throughout the process in the back of my mind I felt like it wasn't "really" my character, even though I had the role since about week two of the rehearsal process.

Maybe I just didn't like the character. Or the scene, which I felt was one of the few in the play that was not well-written. I understood why it was there in a way, but it was too long, not a good match for me, and always took me out of the play a bit. It got a few laughs from the crowds during the run, and my cast mates very much enjoyed watching me in the scene, but internally it never totally clicked with me. On the final day I went a little further with the character, making him even broader and sillier in some ways, and that made it a bit less imposing to do the scene, but I never felt totally at ease with it. (On Friday I even dropped one of the sentences from his speech, but jumped right to the next one, without further incident.)

It can't be denied that there were tech and crew issues in this show that were never totally solved. They made the show longer, and through off at times what could have been a far better presentation. Not to bad mouth any one individual, because one single person can't be blamed for it, but scene changes and other such things were an issue when they didn't always have to be an issue. Maybe an extra week of rehearsals would have done it. Maybe. It doesn't matter now.

Such problems did a few times irritate me quite a bit, but over all the experience of being in Radium Girls was a positive one. I am glad to have been in it, now that all is said and done. I enjoyed it more than my previous show, for any number of reasons.

I feel I presented four distinct characters throughout my performance. Even Flinn, the one I didn't like, was sufficiently different from the other three. That's the biggest challenge of ensemble work-making sure each of your characters, no matter how "minor" appear to be different from the others. I feel I achieved that.

Not that it was always easy. Several times I had to jump right into the next character, necessitating rapid costumes changes. The -longer-than-they-should-have-been scene changes probably helped me cheat a bit, but for a while there I wasn't sure if I could find a system that would allow me enough time to change costumes quickly enough. I did, in the end. In an ideal world, I would have had a crew member helping me do that, which was discussed early on. But as I mentioned there were already enough issues with the tech aspects as it was, without adding more responsibilities to the team.

For the record, if you know the show or care to look it up, I enjoyed playing Berry, the lawyer for the Radium Girls the most, especially during the scene of the hearing. The reporter was my second favorite character, and the one I played most often during the show. Berry and the reporter are the two characters I said on my audition sheet I liked the most, and I'll always be grateful to the director for letting me play both of them.

I'll miss some of the folks from this show, most of whom i had never met before. I'd work with any of them again.

I'll also miss my hat from the show, though. I almost offered to buy it, but I didn't.

So, that's about it for this show. If you get a chance to see or be in a production of Radium Girls, I encourage you to do so. It is a good script, with a lot of room for different styles of acting, and stageable on a low-budget.

What's next for me? It may be happening very soon, in fact. On Saturday before the show I auditioned in the same building for a production of Macbeth, that a friend and Radium Girls cast mate is directing in the fall. If I get into that, I'll probably be rehearsing, or at least doing table work for that in the next couple of weeks.

But plenty of time to talk of that, should it happen. For now, I'm officially closing the Radium Girls chapter of my time, and this blog.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Half-Life of Radium Girls.

The pun on being halfway done with this show was probably inevitable.

As was my slipping on my daily productions updates here on the blog during tech weeks and opening weekend. Sorry about that. But let's talk about what went on in the first weekend of the show, as tech week itself proceeded as most of them tend to do: a mixture of chaos and progress.

All three performances had small audiences; Saturday's I think was the biggest, with over 20, I think. My impression was that everyone who came to see the show enjoyed it, however. I wouldn't say "electric," but involved. There are a few funny moments throughout the show, and from what I noticed, someone in each audience laughed at most of them. Some such moments got big laughs, in fact.

My guess is that the show is lesser known around this area, and thus hasn't pulled a large audience. Also, though I am fond of the BBAC as it is my "main" venue right now, it has often had a problem drawing large crowds for most of it's shows. The reasons for this are an on going discussion among those of us connected with the place, but we're aware. Our director is very popular in another community theatre in the area, and I thought perhaps that popularity would bring more people from her circles to see the show. It may yet do so, but it didn't for the opening weekend, it would appear.

As for the performances themselves, I won't lie, they were rough at times. I've said all along we probably could have used an extra week of rehearsals, but since that was not an option, some bugs were being worked out in the actual performances. A few others appeared here and there as well.

The worse was on Saturday for me. One of my scene partners forgot to show up for the scene. I wasn't aware it had happened until I turned to ask  him the question my character was due to ask, and found nobody there.

I proceeded, as best I could, to incorporate his lines into my own lines for the scene. I was lucky to be playing a reporter at the time, which allowed room to used this trick more so than my other characters. A guy reading news flashes and quotations from his notebook. Others in the scene, who at first didn't realize what the problem was adapted in a few moments, and helped take some of the weight off. in the end, I could have done a better job at remembering the order of the missing actor's lines, but I'm not beating myself up over it. In fact in some ways I consider the whole thing one of my best, most professional moments as an actor. I didn't panic, didn't forget where I was, are stand around looking dumb. I let training take over, remained calm, and proceeded. I'm sure it must have for at least a few seconds appeared awkward to the audience, but giving myself some credit on this one, it could have been a lot worse if I had panicked.

Not that I want to experience that very often. It was only the second time I ever had to deal with that kind of blooper, and this one was probably worse than the other one. But there are times in an actor's life when invisible poise, calm and reliance on knowledge of the moment speak just as much to his talent and professionalism as those parts of his performance that other people see. Few people probably knew what happened, but if they were unaware of just how big a hole in the show they were witnessing, I did something right. I'm not perfect, but I'm pretty damn good most of the time.

I did lose my cool once during the weekend, and it wasn't because of the missing actor. It was due to another error of a different kind, not as huge but still annoying.

I have some fast costume changes in this show, and for opening night my costume pieces, which had always been placed by crew in the same place, were that not nowhere to be found. I had to perform that character for the rest of the show without his specific costume, and I did get blustery about it, to tell you the truth. Turns out the costume had been thrown by someone, (I never was sure who) off stage during a scene change, and fell behind two side curtains. I was extra annoyed because I had only just finally established some kind of system for maximum efficiency and minimum help from other people for all the costume changes. But, afterwards, discussions were had with the proper people by the stage manager, and it didn't happen again, so I won't dwell on it here.

The Sunday matinee had some issues as well, but strictly speaking, unless I missed something big, it was probably the smoothest of the performances for the first weekend. Scene changes, though still clunky were usually faster than they were during tech week and the first few nights.

Through all three shows, I was satisfied with my performances, and I hope to improve on what i do even more for the final three shows. No pick up rehearsal though, and I think we probably needed one, but schedules are schedules. So I'll keep reviewing my lines until then, and give it my best as I always due once the weekend gets here.