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.

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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)

Audition wrap

So, audition over.

Now I”m waiting for the call, which I hate. It reminds me too much of high school dances.

Anyway.

When I was there, there were three other women and three men. There are parts for two men, and four women. The director took us back individually. I went second.

He went over my resume with me and asked if I had a monologue. I said I didn’t, but I’d prepared scenes from the script. The character I read for has a small monologue in a scene with her father, so the director called back one of the men waiting and asked him to read the dad so I could do the scene.

It was a good scene–a few pages–and I did what I set out to do. I didn’t get nervous or flub my lines, or stop. It’s always weird to audition with someone else, because you’re trying to react to them and do the reading as you practiced it. But I thought it went well (so did the man I read with; he told me after that I’d done a good job.).

I saw the director taking notes while I was doing the scene, so I’m guessing that’s good. Well, it can be good or bad. I’ve seen directors do both with both results.

He wants to start rehearsals–reading rehearsals, not blocking–in December, so I imagine we’ll know fairly quickly. Real rehearsals, with blocking, etc. start in January.

So–that’s that. I did my best and I was pretty happy with how I did.

Audition

Wheee, it’s an audition day!

I’m nervous. Well I’m always nervous. 🙂

But my resume is printed, I’ve read the play a million times (almost), my outfit is set…so all I have to do is go wow ’em with my preparation and deep character insight!

(Kidding. Sort of.)

Starting voice lessons–some guidelines

The question “When to start voice training” is an old one, but also pertinent. There are several schools of thought on this, and, since there are some professional roles for children, it might seem that you want to start training them as soon as possible. I have a slightly different opinion on this, which is based on my experience, as well as what I’ve observed through the years.

Children’s voices are beautiful–who doesn’t love listening to a trained boys choir, for example? Children’s choirs amaze with their pure, angelic sound,  which is often, if not impossible, to replicate after the onset of puberty. You want to avoid any possible bad habits, and instill good ones, as soon as possible, such as breath support, phrasing, and a pleasant expression.

Children’s voices, and teenagers voices, should be handled very, very gently–within the confines of a professional children’s choir if possible, or with teachers who have solid pedagogy behind what they’re doing, and experience. The voice is a muscle, and a very delicate one at that. It is an instrument that cannot be traded in–you only get one voice. So students must be taught to treat it appropriately. (I definitely screwed up in this area a few times as a young student!) Ear training is also important here, so the student can learn a cappella singing.

Classical singing is what I consider to be the best way to begin, in that you start with the solid foundation of reading music, scales, pitch, and musicality. You also begin, usually, with Italian exercises, which focus on vowels and purity of sound. Also, if any problems haven’t been corrected up to this point, they can be now, and still have lasting effect on the student.

If you’re a parent, be sure to call around to local conservatories, or ask at the local high schools or junior highs (Usually they know former students who teach, or can recommend teachers at their alma maters. Heck, they might teach themselves.) If you can’t find a good voice teacher for a kid, then it won’t really hurt for them to wait until they are in high school, when it becomes a lot easier to find voice teachers and honor choir opportunity.

I also think it’s worthwhile for all vocalists to learn the piano. That way we can read music and accompany ourselves as necessary.  (It’s a very useful skill, trust me!)

Other vocalists out there–what have been your experiences, for god or bad? What do you think about the right age for starting?

Fall audition #1

My first fall audition is on the books, and I am really excited!

It’s Columbus Civic’s A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by a former Earnest castmate of mine (he played Jack Worthing in the show). He does great work, both adapting, writing, directing and acting, so I would love to be a part of this show.

The audition consists of reading from the script.

I’ve actually never been in a production of A Christmas Carol, so this would be a fun challenge, because it is one of my favorite Dickens works (and works, period). The novel itself is so rich with story, character, and detail, so every adaptation pulls something new from it. But it’s also beloved because of the character that we know–Scrooge, Marley, Bob Crachit, the Spirits, Fezziwig, and of course, Tiny Tim.

Do you have a favorite adaptation of the story? (movie or stage version) Mine are, in no particular order: The Muppets’ Christmas Carol (“This is our island in the sun!). Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, (especially the music!), and Mickey’s Christmas Carol, which is animated beautifully, and Scrooge McDuck is a perfect, um, Scrooge. 🙂