Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lumbering and Slumbering

One lesson I am learning and relearning in this Christmas Carol production is that to do theatre at this level one must have an acute attention to detail, and be able to manifest that attention to detail, with what? With one's body, one's face and voice. Every element of movement and speech must work towards the intended end, an end which may be multifaceted. This putting together of song, speech, movement and interaction isn't new to me, but NC Shakespeare is demanding more from me than I've had to give before. Trying to incorporate all the corrective notes I'm receiving is forcing me to become a nimbler, more conscious performer, less of an instinctive shuffler, more of a honed and prepared professional. I feel like a Popsicle stick being used as a scalpel.

Oh yeah, happy Thanksgiving! And nothing says Thanksgiving like John Coltrane!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Christmas Supreme

We had our first rehearsal in the theatre today. It's going surprisingly smoothly. I just tell myself I'm in my own Christmas Special and the motivation takes care of itself. I was always a sucker for Christmas kitsch.

As I left the theatre tonight I noticed a statue across the street. I strolled over to check it out, and almost burst into tears.

John Coltrane.

It turns out that High Point is his childhood home town. I'm working not far from where one of the Twentieth Century's most essential musicians spent formative years.

Excuse me; I'm off to listen to A Love Supreme for about the thousandth time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bizzy

I've been awfully busy, what with the Christmas Carol and the being sick (again) but I think the main reason I haven't posted is that I mostly use the blog as a way to impose my luminous magnificence onto the world. Lately, though, I feel like I'm giving all I got to this show. It's amazing how a full-on professional show can command one's first fruits.

Anyway, I'm delighted with this experience, illness aside, and I've got another pro audition lined up. Also keep Frank in your thoughts, since he's up for a part in Gilligan's Island in New York. If you know Frank you know he loves him some Gilligan's Isle.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter to Laurie

I'm in my room in High Point. I'm sharing a nice apartment with two other guys. Both of them are very nice, but very young, and very up-and-coming. They're hardcore with the pro theatre at an age when maybe I should have been. So it's pretty intimidating for this 35-year-old geezer.

So anyway, I'm in a small carpeted room on a teensy bed, listening to the past-midnight chatter of other folks in the room. It reminds me of the poverty serious actors have to swim through. The Theatre is being very nice to us, putting us up in a reasonably nice place.

But you're much nicer to me.

I miss you and I love you.

Emerging from the Woods

In a few hours after posting this I leave Kannapolis for High Point and my first Equity-level professional production. At the same time it'll be my first extended separation from Laurie since we moved in together, and I'm going to miss her something sick, no matter how many friends I might make in High Point.

* * *

I can't articulate my roiling emotional mix with any finer-grained articulation than that, so I'm gonna natter about the woods behind our house now.

I'm rereading Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock; it's a fantasy novel about a couple of brothers who realize that the woods behind their house are vaster and stranger than they could have imagined. The first time I read it I hated it for reasons which now elude me, and I wrote a cranky Amazon review that I now feel duty bound to rewrite. I quite like the book this time, and I sort of relate to the situation the brothers face. We have a small wood behind our house, and while there's nothing of the uncanny about it, it does make me tingle a bit to hear... things... rustling through the thicket. The cat noses around the fenced fringe of the wood with an evident mix of eagerness and trepidation.

One day the cat and I were sunning in the back yard when a pack of large dogs appeared in the woods on the other side of the fence. They happily romped by, disappeared, reappeared, passed along. Something about it unnerved me as much as it did the cat, and I'm not generally unnerved by dogs. Dogs roaming down the street might make me watchful if they seemed dangerous, but dogs appearing from the brush like actors sneaking through stage curtains gave me pause. What caveman intuition is awakened by creatures emerging from the woods?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cheers and hisses

First the Good:

We have a President who, like FDR and Reagan, has the power to move the USA with his use of the spoken word. Both the aforementioned Presidents reshaped the way the USA regarded itself and went about its business, and they did it in large part by talking to the public in ways that reshaped the ways we thought about our Nation. Such rhetorical skills have been missing from the Oval Office for a while, and I think our national confusion results in part from that lack.

On the personal level, Laurie has a groovy new Toyota, and next week I'm starting my first professional acting job.

Speaking of acting, Turn of the Screw, and your Humble Author, got a glowing review in Charlotte's free weekly! From what I've been told, Perry Tannenbaum is the theatre critic of record in Charlotte, so praise from him might help get things rolling around here. Okay, it's a small notice at the very end of an otherwise unrelated article, but I'll take what I can get.

Bad: I'm sick. Again. Had to cancel a party we were planning to pitch for my Turn of the Screw cohorts and Laurie's colleagues.

Laurie bought that new car so she could give me her old one. She's giving me her old one because the Saturn I bought at the Carmax in Hoover, Alabama has finally reached its end. The engine's cracked and leaking oil. This after spending a thousand bucks to fix the timing-chain-related damage. Have I mentioned that I took my Saturn to Hoover Carmax's service department again and again, begging them to figure out why it was making threatening noises? And they kept saying they couldn't find anything wrong, despite the timing chain practically leaping out and shaving their whiskers? Granted, I was ignorant for not staying on top of this whole replace-your-timing-chain thing, but they were professional mechanics! They couldn't sniff out the problem? Fooey on 'em.

Anyway, another annoying thing: Prop 8. But if we take the long view, then we can afford to let Maggie Gallagher take her victory lap. Time-and youth-are on our side, not hers.

A couple years ago I was in line at the grocery when my cashier, a young woman, chattered happily about how Britney and Madonna smootched in an MTV publicity stunt the previous night. The whole faux-lesbian thing charmed, rather than threatened, her. Granted faux-lesbian ain't the same as lesbian, but the point is that when that girl and her lesbian-wedding-episode-of-Friends-watching peers come into the fullness of their socio-political power, all these gay marriage bans are going to be armadillo husks on the side of the road. Which may be of little use to people who want to be married now, but keep calm and carry on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope and all that

I started to write about the big housecleaning our country just had, but then I realized we haven't had a housecleaning; we just hired a new cleaning staff. Here's hoping they do a better job than the previous one.

Monday, November 03, 2008

If you're in Birmingham and not as cash-strapped as I was 90% of the time, do me a favor; go down to V. Richards and buy a loaf of their in-store baked bread. Be warned that the rye is tasty but turns into a bag of mold as soon as it hits the hot, humid Birmingham air. Maybe it's cool enough to stay good a while, though. Also maybe get some baked dessert goods, (the seasonal cranberry walnut tarts are pricey but worth it. So were the cranberry walnut pies, when they did 'em) and some Jona Gold apples if they got 'em. Say hi to Melissa the cashier for me if she still works there.

* * *

I'm eagerly awaiting the Charlotte Creative Loafing review of our Turn of the Screw production. Just cuz, here's the same reviewer's 2001 review of a different production from the same script (published the day after 9/11. Probably no one felt like going to see Turn of the Screw after that, but it's actually a darn good homeopathic remedy for psychic horrors of all kinds).

* * *

Another request for you B'hamites: Laurie and I won't be able to attend the Solstice Party (You know the one: Becky and Judy's) so show up, stay all night, get pickled, and remember that Laurie and I connected at the 2007 edition of the party.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Review of the Screw.

Show's over, but we got a review on Arts a la Mode. Not sure what this website's impact factor is on the Charlotte Theatre Scene, but hey.

It was a joy to do such a rich show and I'm grateful to Actors Scene Unseen for giving me the opportunity! I had a blast with everyone involved. Laurie and I are trying to get them over for a Creepy Movie Night, to make up for our rather circumscribed Halloween. I'm not sure I can convey the delight I found in doing such a rich production with such fine people.

Minor observations:

I sweat quite a bit under the hot stagelights in my heavy costume. During one performance I kept hearing someone in the audience whisper "He's sweating." We all engage art according to our own idiosyncratic concerns.

The Blumenthal, our performance space, has showers in the dressing rooms, but no hot water.

Tip for actors: if you see that an elevated part of the set on which you are expected to stand is made of particleboard, loudly question its structural soundness in front of the youngest tech crew member. When he gung-hos his way up to demonstrate the platform's structural soundness by leaping on it, and crashes through it, you will have made your point without argument.

Do not park on the street in downtown Charlotte. Use a parking structure. A castmember's mom's car got broken into via the window smash technique. The police caught the perp, said he's been arrested dozens of times, and warned that he's HIV positive, so watch out for blood around the broken glass. So yeah, parking structure.