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!

 

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)