Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gleam in its Eye, Bright as a Rose...

It's really fun when things just seem to start happening in the world of the play. When scenes that you've done again and again surprise you and make a new sense and scare you and thrill you, and you are in them.

I really loved a scene tonight that has sometimes been good but not always. It was very alive, very uncertain, in a really great way. It's such a great feeling. We had a day off, so the whole play felt kind of fresh and new to me, in a way that was exciting, not as if I had never rehearsed and was in 'The Actor's Nightmare'.

And then, you can't bottle it. It disappears when you try to chase it. Crumbles if you reach for it. You can't go out and have the same show. What a pisser.

It's a kind of frustrating thing that you think you understand the play and you put all this work into it, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The work takes you to the point, hopefully, that even if it isn't flying it is still moving, it is still working, it is still a show, the right show. But there's that other something, that pixie dust, that makes it worth doing. I just don't know when it's going to show up.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March Comes in Like a Lion, What Else? Still the Snow Never Melts

I'm here!

Yes, that's right! Sudbury!

I have been watching Game of Thrones lately, and the Sudbury landscape is such that when walking alone late at night, I have the giddy feeling that direwolves might be watching me.

Which would be thrilling. Although I have had three separate experiences, walking along Paris street in Sudbury, where I thought I saw small woodland creatures. I quickly became attached to them and gave them names. They were:

1) Mr Squiggles, a hedgehog
2) Minerva, a white mink
3) Gander, a great grey goose.

In reality, these things were:

1) a hunk of snow
2) a piece of garbage
3) a hunk of snow

If you have poor eyesight and a need to care for something, you will get your heart broken a lot in Sudbury.

The show is going pretty well. Opening was weird in the way that openings were weird, and the second night was weird in the way second nights are weird. Yesterday I felt was a good show. But it feels like the bones are there...we've spent enough time with the project and the script and production are strong enough that the show still soldiers on, even if there are those terrifying moments and slip ups and strange ghosts.

I don't like to talk about my miserable theatre school experience, but I do have to say that one thing that was beneficial was whenever they talked about just working from wherever you were, and coping. Working hard enough that you could cope with whatever ended up happening to you. That has proven to be quite valuable to me.

I feel very honoured to be in this show and working with people I've got to work with. They all have a great deal more experience than me and have been able to carve out really interesting, inspiring careers in theatre. They are, though, all dudes. So while I can't emulate their career paths, I can emulate their work ethics and attitudes. You want to be near people who you want to be near to. That's it. People who are positive and exciting and hard-working and game. I feel like I'm kind of watching them like a little direwolf, taking notes. They're really wonderful. And it's encouraging that they have had careers. Its encouraging that anyone has a career. It's quite amazing, actually. And the crew here is just the best. I'm very lucky.

Before I left my friend Rose was talking to me about how she recently had a part (in another Stephen Massicotte play) that she didn't feel was really her hit, and how wonderful it was to get to do that and how she learned that she could do it. And she said she thought this experience might be the same for me. I'm not sure if that's happened. I don't know how I'm doing. I feel a bit divorced from how I feel about my work. It never feels great....the experience of being in a show and the thrill of it and all that fun stuff and certain moments feel great, but I never ever feel like I was really good. I don't know what this means. I don't know how to work on this either.

But all in all, it's going well.

And, of course, in the birth of anything lie the seeds of its destruction and it ends in a week and I might never act again. My summer is a very large question mark....I'm waiting to hear about something to know how to proceed with something else. I have to put together a self-tape in the next few days, which is always hugely stressful, though it was a project I'd love to do, so that would be great.

I'm hungry for Shakespeare. It feels like when I am dehydrated but don't really know it and then drink water and it tastes cool and clear and like the only thing I'd ever want forever. I feel, at this point, my Shakespeare days are over, but I am longing for it like hydration.

I'm trying to make this freedom and how much energy I have and how much I want to do things, I'm trying to make all this into some kind of frenzied kinetic motion that means I put on my own fucking Shakespeare play, write my own stuff, cast myself in the roles that no one will cast me as and just take over, but I inevitably just feel defeated and lost. It's hard to convert fuel to movement. It's so much easier to just watch Game of Thrones.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Curtain Up, Light the Lights

Opening night tonight.

Last night, even though I was kind of nervous and worried about my next (non existent) job and all that shit, I thought about how I am the luckiest person to even get to do a thing like this even once in my life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You Can Always Cover One Til He Blacks the Other One

I'm doing a show. This show:

Up in Sudbury again. I've had a lot of thoughts about my process and all the other boring things I talk about on here, but I've also been in this show, so I have not had the time nor presence of mind to blog. I will at some point, likely when we open later this week. Suffice to say I am insecure and nervous in the ways I am always insecure and nervous, and thrilled and grateful and happy in the way that theatre and getting to work in theatre thrills, gratifies and happifies me. So we can conclude that I am still myself. Sigh.

I got a huge rejection right before I came here and that has been clouding my experience and also making me re-evaluate a) theatre and b) blogging about theatre. What else is new? I am really upset about it and it feels like I dream I had died and I lost complete respect for the company and the artists that made the decision and so maybe its better I won't work with them again, but I'm still very very sad about it and all these things make me go, what is the point? So I'll blog about that at some point too. Still myself!

The thing that I wanted to share is that  in the play what I am in now I play an abused wife, and have to have these marks on my legs to show where my husband has hit me. I am told that these marks look ok from the audience, although they look a bit like Craft Corner from my vantage point.  The absolute best part of this is that the paint goes on wet and I can't put the rest of my costume on til it dries, so every night I sit around in my dressing room alone in my underwear, gently fanning my loins.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why, Charlie Brown, You Really Have to Delve

I did a theatre thing last week as part of the Rhubarb festival, and I have been thinking about it a lot.

I was really scared and intimidated the whole way through, which is happening now with  more and more of the things I work on and is starting to maybe indicate to me that I'm not an actor? Maybe I should be like an arts administrator? Or maybe I should just hide in a cave like Caliban? I remember at school everyone always had to remind me to find the joy, the sunshine, in work, because I just tend to put my head down and hammer away at things until there is no happiness. I do feel joy, but I feel acute terror now.

But anyway. What was more interesting to me was that the show and the way we approached the show demanded me to act in a way that I don't normally. And I struggled, and I got better, but not really good enough, and I learned about how to approach the show, and I thought about it a lot. I had to act less, which is hard for me. I'm pretty performative and reactive and emotional in my real life, and I have some sense that if anyone casts me (please someone cast me), it's because they're interested in these qualities. These things what I do. There's an aspect to it that's about branding, about the business of theatre, that there are these things what I do that kind of make me different, or give me a 'hit', or make me suitable for certain kinds of roles.

But then there's a deeper sense, that I carry around, that they are 'what I am'. That this way of acting, what I do IS what I am, that it's true in some sense to me. It's become stronger because I wrote a one-person show that I felt really represented this side of me as an actor and want to write more and explore it and am identified with that style of performance. I have some sense that there's a way that I act and that is really who I am.

And when I was asked to not do it, and the play was better because of that, and I had less of the impulse to do the habitual stuff that I do, I was still myself, in a way?

It's amazing to think that any quality you use to identify yourself, either for good or bad, is a construct. I have some strongly-held idea that what I am as an actor (and as a person?) is very fast, very loud, I just throw a lot of energy at things and that is what makes me special, that is what makes me useful, and that's the only way I can be an actor, because those are the things that make me 'me'. But really, they're just things that I do.

I've found this really liberating in the way that standing in front of a large and hungry grizzly bear must be really liberating.

On one hand, everything is open. There's endless possibility to how to behave and you don't have to come in to things with 'your' personality, or 'what you do', because those things don't exist in any real way. Maybe I'm not just a quirky sidekick. Maybe I can write a frenetic one person multi character show but I can also sit in a chair and just tell a story simply. Freedom.

Horrible horrible freedom!

On the other hand, it's scary to think of yourself as not really having anything to hold on to. Just being a vessel, or a changeable thing. These things that you are, you can't rest on them in any way, because they're just ideas that you have, they aren't real. You kind of crumble like toothpicks.

How incredible that as actors we look to ourselves and we become other people and all of these are just really ideas and who are all these people that we're supposed to be?

This all relates to this show about identity that I'm trying to write, but I don't really know how. I don't really know anything!

Anyway. The Rhubarb show was really interesting and an incredible piece of writing that I was lucky to get to do, and I learned a lot and wasn't actually even sure how to talk about how much I learned, or what to do now or how to use anything that I thought about to move forward or do better, but if there's no 'me' that's really thinking I guess it doesn't matter anyway?