The First Weekend

So a few more notes: 

*Blocking is changing. Sort of. Apparently things look weird from the light box on occasion so the director is re-directing us. 

* I am going to burn my costume when this show is over. It’s my dress, so I can do it. It likes to stick to me–not the entire thing. It’s a two layer dress–a lace overlay, and a nylon/satin underskirt. The underskirt likes to ride up. I am wearing a slip underneath, but still….anyway, we’re working on it. If it happens when you’re seeing the show, I’m sorry. I’m really trying to fix it!

* We really like to eat the grapes that are in the dinner scene; as in, we like to eat them during breaks in the other acts. Hee hee. 

 

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Flying dishes, and c. –notes from the first two shows

So, the show has opened! Squee! Time for notes:

  • Opening Night, as usual, was a lot of fun. We had a group of girls from the local all-girls school and they seemed very attentive and focused, which is always good. 🙂
  • During the dinner table clear in Act III, one of the glasses rolled off the table. Inwardly cursing, I went around and got it and continued on. I was worried that you could see my annoyance, but the director said yesterday you couldn’t, and I “got an A” for the rescue of the glass. 🙂 We changed the timing a bit before last night’s show, but I think this scene is just going to “evolve” for a bit. That’s not a bad thing.
  • Performances during a long run do evolve a bit. Not to the point where blocking and timing and rhythm are changed, because then directors get mad (!), but things like intonation and inflection, and attitude of characters. I did this myself a bit last night, and I heard some of the other actresses do it, too. I think it really adds to the performance as we go deeper into these characters, and it keeps the performances alive.
  • The last Act–in particular the last scene–is just awesome in performance. So much adrenaline. It’s not so much acting as it is reacting. I just love it. 🙂

Opening night!

I really love opening night. No matter how many of them I do, they never get old. Especially when it’s a visceral show like this, where I’ve been craving audience reaction, and wondering how they would react to it, essentially ever since the table read.

It was a good crowd, with a class from a local all-girls school there. They really seemed to enjoy it. It wasn’t perfect–live theater almost never is, which is part of the thrill of it–but I don’t think they noticed. 🙂 Well, except for the “flying cup”….sigh…that’s a story for another entry. But anyway, in Act III I have to clear the dinner dishes. And one of the cups got away from me. Fortunately it stayed on the stage so I was able to just go get it and work it into the scene.

If you’re in the area, I hope you get a chance to see it. It’s a tremendous group of actresses and it’s a great script.

No redeeming qualities

That’s hard work!

So yesterday the director was talking to us, giving us some notes. To me and another actress, he said that he was enjoying our character portrayals. “They have no redeeming qualities!” he said, a bit gleeful.

I was confused. Sure, Angustias isn’t someone I’d pick to be my best friend, but she’s not horrible. She doesn’t try to steal her sister’s fiancé (Adela) or tell lies that lead to disastrous consequences (Martirio). If anything, she’s “more sinned against that sinning.”

So I mentioned this to the director, also saying that I’d been working on making her nicer–but he cut me off. “No! No! Don’t do that.”

“Um…OK?”

So: I’m really interested to see what the audience has to say about her. She’s definitely got some personality problems, but she’s not bad. She’s got three sisters that seriously dislike her (Amelia, the fourth, is mostly indifferent), a mother who is a bit, well, strict (to put it mildly), and she’s 39 years old. She’s never dated. She’s finally engaged, to a man that her sisters lust after, and she knows that he probably isn’t in this relationship for her awesome mind or body. She’s not blind.

Angustias and I have some things in common: We’re both the oldest, we both have sister(s) (I’ve got a brother and a sister), we’re both Catholic. I can understand where she’s coming from: I know people/situations that apply to my work here. Really, she wasn’t that much of a leap to create. Some of the venom and rudeness that comes form her is a bit foreign to me, but it’s also really fun to get to say what the character is (probably) thinking. Verbal sparring is a lot of fun.

Production development is also coming along–some of the set pieces are going up, and our awesome costumer has been bringing in pieces for us to try on. Tonight she had me try on a pale pink nightgown for the end of Act III, which I think worked well. I think we might all have nightgowns now. 🙂 The set isn’t very elaborate–a table, chairs, and the entryways–but once the entryways are in, it’ll make life a lot easier, because we can cement the blocking.

We open in 8 days!

 

THE END

So, today we OFFICIALLY finished blocking the entire show.

We are done!

If you’re familiar with the show and you’re coming to see ours–be warned. We did change some things, throughout, but especially in Acts I and III. Most of them are for space consideration: it’s a small theater, so we don’t have a lot of space in the  (ahem) “Wings”, or in the dressing rooms (even though that area has been doubled (an upstairs level added) since I did Earnest here last year). So we can’t have crowds of “extras” or lots of offstage space for action to occur. That’s OK. It’s still going to be a darn good show! We ran all of Act III, mostly off-bookish. Saturday we run the act off book, and then Sunday we start run throughs of the whole shebang off book. On Sunday, we also start getting our set built in! Yay! It’ll be nice to have concrete doors and to know how much space we have for certain entrances/exits.

It’s a great cast, and I think we’re putting together a quality show. It’s different, but very passionate.

Ain’t it a pretty night!

The sky’s so bright and velvet-like


–from “Ain’t It A Pretty Night?”, 
Susannah

This line from the opera Susannah echoes through my head as we run Act III. Act III is the final act of our show, and it’s an act full of metaphor and incisive images: “crown of thorns”, “fire flashing through a sky that’s been quiet”, “stars the size of fists”.  The beauty of the night is continually noted, which cues up the Susanna piece for me. (For a great recording, get Renee Fleming’s I Want Magic! CD–it’s on there.)

Final acts are where all the pieces come together: “destinies are resolved,” as Virginia Woolf might say. All the secrets are revealed, hearts are laid bare, and action is finally taken toward the climax and resolution. If Act II is where the drama builds in our show, Act III is where it resolves, using lots of poetic images and passionate speeches.

Tonight we got within four pages of finishing the play! Tomorrow I’m bringing in cupcakes as part of my (continued) b-day celebration. It fits, because the last four pages are intense. We’re gonna need some sugar.

 

I’m going to be sleeping with my script

This show is sort of frustrating for me.

Normally, I can learn lines really easily, almost effortlessly. This show–not so much.

Now, it could be because I have more lines than I’ve had in awhile. It could be the most lines I’ve ever had in a straight play. Musicals are somewhat easier, because the cast albums play on constant loop for me (car, iPod), or I’ve already memorized the lyrics many moons ago. This–no CD. No easy music or memory tricks. Just the hard slog of read, repeat, read, repeat.

Just when I think I have an act down, I find out…I don’t. Act II is the hardest act for me, because I talk the most. It’s coming. It’s probably about 90% memorized. But that other 10% is just killing me. And I feel like I’m letting everyone else down, even though I’m not the only one asking for a line.

The problem for me is that it’s not just me having a conversation with one person. It’s me having a conversation with four or five people. And of course the rhythm is always different in rehearsal then when you’re reading the script at home.

So I’m redoubling my script efforts. I might even have one of my siblings run lines with me tomorrow. 🙂

Today we ran Act II straight through (off book) and then part of Act I, which we hadn’t done in about a week. Surprisingly most of it was still there.  Next week (Monday) we start Act III. We’ve already blocked the first scene, and fortunately I have much less to do in this act than I do in any other, but it’s a complex act for some of the other actresses–big chunks of text.  I have my lines in the beginning of the act and then one line at the end. 🙂 Of course, blocking the end is going to be a bit…challenging. 🙂

So we’re totally off book for Acts I and II, and should have III by next week. Then we head into running the show. Then it’s tech week! Wow. Three weeks left until we open! (Not even that. Like two weeks and change.)

I’m going to be sleeping with my script, that’s for sure.

 

 

Another Op’ning, Another Show

So, happy 2012 everybody!

It’s been awhile without any updates, because…well, there haven’t been any shows! But I’m currently in rehearsals for a new one at Columbus Civic, where I did The Importance of Being Earnest last year (same director, too).

This show is the antithesis of Earnest. For one: Not funny. At all. (Well, not intentionally.) It’s a serious, Spanish drama (in English), written by Spanish playwright Frederico Garcia Lorca. It takes place in the Spanish region of Andalusia in the 1920s, when the power of the Catholic Church was absolute, and the Spaniards were, for the most part, “more Catholic than the pope.”

It’s an all -female cast (another first for me). When Bernarda Alba’s second husband dies, she declares an eight year mourning period for her five daughters–no going out, no flirting, no men, no freedom. Just staying at home, preparing their trousseaus. The only exception is the oldest daughter, Angustias (my character), who is recently engaged to the most eligible bachelor in the village–much to her sisters’ dismay and jealousy. So what happens when five marriageable daughters are locked up together, denied an outlet for their emotions–and two of the sisters are vying for the attention of Angustias’ fiancé? Nothing good, I’ll tell you that.

FOr the past few days we’ve been working on Act II, which is the powerful center of the play–when Bernarda realizes that all is not well between her five daughters, much as she is loathe to admit it (and she does’t). The work we’ve been doing has been awesome and intense, and I think we are all really excited to see it coming together, especially so early in the process (we open April 26). The cast is fantastically gifted, top to bottom, and I’m really privileged to work with these women.

Angustias is a bit different for me. She’s 39 years old, and is described as old, pale, thin, weak, and not really attractive (of course this is her sisters’ estimation of her, so take it with a grain of salt…). She is a bit afraid of her mother, and while she tried defiance, she never really goes too far before being shamed back into obedience. Her father–Bernarda’s first husband–left her a lot of money in his will, so she’s the richest of the five daughters. (Her four sisters are actually her half-sisters.) She’s a bit spoiled, and looks down a bit on her sisters–either ignoring them completely or displaying her sophistication as the only one who has  a fiancé. She likes things to be done correctly.

I read early in the process that she has a “defensive vulnerability” about her, and I really took to that phrase and am trying to incorporate it into my performance. She has a fiancé, and she knows it’s probably not due to her great looks or personality–it’s due to her fortune. It’s a sore spot for her, and when her sisters hit on it, she gets defensive fast.

Of the four sisters she has–Magdalena, Amelia, Martirio and Adela–she probably likes (or tolerates) Amelia best, because Amelie doesn’t do much to bother her. She is definitely antagonistic with Magdalena, and changeable with the two youngest, Martirio and Adela. As the play goes on, her relationship with the last two definitely changes.

The work we get to do with the other actors is so much fun: to find all the layers, to investigate the relationships, to play the subtexts. the relationships are always shifting. Since my mom has five sisters, and I have a younger sister, I have a lot that I can draw on to bring Angustias to life.

As the process continues I’ll be writing more and hopefully sharing some photos and press clips. It’s a riveting show and I’m loving being a part of it!

For more information, go to www.columbuscivic.org (you can even order tickets there)