Aug 15 – Rehearsal and Performance
Well, I have finally gotten around to writing in my blog. I’ve been on vacation from acting class for about six weeks, so I didn’t have much to write about as my “regular” life is rather boring.
Class actually started two weeks ago, but since it has, I have been to busy to write. I work my regular 40 hour job and then I’ve just tacked another 16 hours of class time onto that, not including outside study time for memorizing lines, reading the play, doing research, finding costume bits and props, etc. Oh yeah, and eating and sleeping too.
The class I am taking is called Rehearsal and Performance. We do a play. This time (I took this class last year) we are doing The Man Who Came to Dinner by Kaufman and Hart, a 1930’s screwball comedy.
Famous radio star comes to a Ohio family’s home for dinner, slips and injures himself to the point he has to stay in their house. He takes over the household, terrorizes the servants, corrupts the children, drives the man of the house insane with a never-ending parade of the rich, famous, and odd who come to visit him while he convalesces.
His assistant in the meantime falls in love with a local newspaper man. The radio star concocts a scheme to keep her from running off with him, that backfires, and he has to find out how to get out of the mess he’s created. Hilarity ensues.
The team we have for this play is good. The director is George Lewis, famed Freehold acting teacher, who I have written about before many times. The other actors are fun too. No one seems to have an ego, and everyone seems to be willing to do whatever they need to do to make this no-budget play work.
For most of the people this is their first play. It’s funny, but I feel like I’m pretty experienced, even though it is only my second play. I guess I didn’t realize how much I had learned the first go around. But when people ask questions about how the process works, I’m like, hey, I already know that. It has made this go around a little less stress. Don’t get me wrong though, it is still stressful.
I’m going to play three different characters. Mrs. Dexter, the next door neighbor; Miss Preen, the nurse; and Harriet Stanley, the crazy sister of Mr. Stanley. There are about 30 people in this play and we have only nine actors, so most of us are playing more than one person. Some of the more extraneous characters were cut, but still almost all of us play more than one person.
I have been having to figure out how to make my characters different, as well as what makes them tick. There isn’t a lot of depth in this play, so I have to work hard with the meager clues that I have, and then make up a lot of backstory. Definitely in the early stages with that process. I have developed voices for the three characters, but they are still shaky and not second nature yet, so i tend to fall out of them when I get flustered (which is often). What I also need to do is work on their physicality, how do they walk, move, sit, etc.
And of course working out the backstory. Like I said there isn’t a lot of clues in the text, so I have to take the few their are and extrapolate from there. I’m not very good at this, but George has been guiding me through. He asks me questions, of which my answer is invariably, I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it. It will be a question that points to character motivation in some way that I hadn’t even considered. Most of us look for the obvious answer, but often that’s not very interesting. As George says, if your not interested, it’s death. The whole process makes me feel like an idiot, but I suspect I will get better at figuring these things out on my own the more I do it.
I have eight hours of rehearsal coming up on Sunday, so I need to get ready for that. It’s going to be a hot, long day.