Archives for posts with tag: play

Moments of inspiration, respiration, perspiration, they come in and out of life.  When a person is born, we celebrate.  When a person dies, we mourn.  A celebration

of the life they shared with us and the world is a productive, optimistic, motivating choice. I wholly empathize, and cry hard, to the point of nausea, when a close loved one croaks.  All that morose feelings, though, is for me, my regrets for not seeing them that one last time, hurt I did not soak up every opportunity with them because my “life”, and appointments, and commitments got in my own way. Excuses.

Our loved ones know we love them, they know this because we spent loving time and shared deep unexplainable connections, over countless moments together. To have regrets, the pain is deep. A pain unalterable, all we can do is allow, and let go. How easy it is, two simple, short words, to say: Let go, of all we wish had happened, would happen. How brief this life is, and how peaceful we can choose to breathe. Or to heave, with sobbing thrusts, when all is truly out of our little control. Control, like time, and money, are, in fact, illusions. Death commands: Relinquish.

This year has proven a grand reminder, to live in this moment, this present before me NOW. To breathe deeply, in and out, to seek ways to calm myself and care for this little being, channeling the most energetic essence, that is me. Many times, folks have told me I have to take care of myself, and those too are easy, valuable words. Figuring out HOW to care for myself, when life has thrown much seriousness to deal with onto the playing board, I try to … PLAY. As a wooer of words, I adore looking up synonyms. My favorite for months has been

PLAYFUL [adj] funny, fun-loving: coltish, flirtatious, frisky, jaunty, jesting, jocund, mirthful, rollicking, snappy, vivacious, whimsical, and zippy.

Simply typing these words has spanned a smile wide across my face. May mirth rollick into you day in many ways.  It’s all worthy.

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Bad Seed PosterFriday is opening night for a naughty 1950’s play by renowned writer Maxwell Anderson.  ‘Bad Seed’, the last Broadway success before his death, is a devilish mother/daughter tale of secrecy and murders. Anderson wrote numerous plays, and movies including ‘Death Takes a Holiday’, ‘Joan of Arc’, and Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’.  A masterpiece play, adapted from William March’s long-awaited novel “The Bad Seed”, it ran on  Broadway five months and was later made into two movies.  Studios changed the ending in the first version, because the 1956 audience could not accept such an appalling conclusion where the villain … (no spoilers), and it was nominated for four Academy Awards- including ‘Best Director’ for British Mervyn LeRoy.

Having been asked to audition by the director of this 2014 incarnation, I watched the second, color version of the movie, with David Carradine among the cast, dressed and practiced my best Southern accent, then dutifully showed up to try out for a part. Producer/director, Henry Brewer, immediately offered me the role of the mother and sent me home with a copy of the play.  Mrs. Christine Bravo Penmark is a woman, a character, I strongly did not like.  I was repulsed by her, and because of this intense response, I knew this was going to be a challenge, a good opportunity to stretch me beyond bounds of comfort.  One of her first lines is “I’m not very self-sufficient.”; Completely not me, and this ‘weakness’ is probably what turned me off to start.

Neither of the movies does justice to the play, something is lost even though Anderson is responsible for the screenplay.  Much of the Broadway cast was in the original black and white movie, but I turned it off half-way through supposedly due to a distaste for the acting style of the time, with one exception- the actress who plays Mrs. Daigle- Eileen Heckart, who won a Golden Globe for her performance.  My undertaking thrills and terrifies me, because the part is grande- the tale truly is twisted and violent- and the emotions are quite extreme.  Breathing life into fully experiencing these six days of Christine’s life is well worth all the work.

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I am in a Shakespeare state-of-mind.  Have you ever AllMyHairstudied a language and begun thinking or dreaming in that other tongue?  The month of August I will play Ophelia in Hamlet, and as the theater desires everyone off-book [to know all their lines] when rehearsals begin the first of July, all parts were bequeathed at the beginning of the year.  Also, it helps I teach acting at the venue producing the play- The Rose Theater (visit their site: TheStageAwaits.com).  Having so much topsy-turveyness in life, my personality is one where I sat down in January to precisely determine how many scenes this character will perform.  As it turns out, Ophelia has lines in six scenes, a convenient number considering the months until we begin working out the blocking [where/on which line you move to/enter/exit the stage].

From these two numbers- six scenes and six months- memorizing dialogue for one scene each month develops an easily digestible task.  My memorization skills are average, thus being not blessed with a photographic memory, or a quick conversion rate from short to long term recollection- I have multiple mechanisms utilized to retain verbose narrations.  A prior post (Play: Within the Lines) goes into detail, however, I … lied, admitting to write a half dozen times, alas- the truth is ten.  Yes, that is correct, I write all my character’s dialogue an even ten times to secure those utterances into my noggin.  Regardless if it seems me a dolt, this is what I have learned my dyslexic brain likes: it slows me down and repetition is the mother of…  I don’t know, something (SKILL; I looked it up!).

Creating a sense of security within the chaos that is Life, can provide necessary comfort.  That being said- the theater presenting Shakespeare’s most popular tragedy has set a goal to raise $1,500 for the building of proper sets and toward more realistic costumes (straight-jackets are difficult to come by at the thrift stores).  Please support in this artistic endeavor any manner you feel comfortable, whether sharing the link or a $10 contribution via IndieGoGO with worthwhile incentives.  All aide is supremely appreciated by this not-for-profit stage, and yours truly.

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Merrily standing, while the crew (lights, props, camera) sets the airplane, determining camera positioning and movement- the supervising costumer queries where are the stewardesses’ jackets. Researching prior to fitting, every 1990s airline uniform I found had a long boxy (ugly) coat.  “They weren’t fit with one” says one costumer, shortly after which the main man buttons one up my fellow background stewardesses.  Tugging to adjust, it’s off her with an “If the shoe fits” and onto me: Like a glove!  Leading to my subsequent placement, by the 1st AD- Adam- outside the entrance of the plane, however, the added costume piece was vetoed because the two ‘featured’ stewardesses were in jackets.  The scene set, Martin Scorsese walked in, a foot away from me, big toothy smile and a nod looking right into my eyes.

The main characters’ action was behind my back, challenging the timing of my cue.  Stumbling, a commotion stirs inside the plane door, JUST after which I cross, clipboard in hand.  Intention: to hear [when will I get eyeballs in the back-of-my-head like mom] specifically when a pass through space is cleared enough, while not leaving a lag, yet allotting perfect pacing bereft of bunching the entryway with other boarders.  Following take one, Adam instructs “five beats sooner”; ensued by take two’s  “ten beats later”.  The concern became star/producer Leonardo DiCaprio was, and is earnestly respected for, relaxing into the scene, taking more time and space– succumbing to the depth of the character’s drugged state- creating a background awkwardness.  Imagine Marty during filming, watching his screen, wanting, understandably as an artist, the frame to look just so with a good pacing of background actors.

‘Respect’ is a pale word for a director of Mr. Scorsese’s caliber.  Once, he stepped in to speak to DiCaprio, I heard him quietly say “It will work better with the cut if you do it this way”.  He can see the edit in his mind’s eye as the camera is rolling.  In real life, this scene was probably a cumbersome event.  We moved on after maybe nine takes, and I’m still “the redhead” called back for a second exciting day on-set.

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The hardest part in acting is learning the lines.  At least, so goes the opinion of consensus.  Some actors go “off-book” before truly being so, regularly calling out “line”- slowing rehearsal- or continually toting and repeatedly pulls out from her (literal) back pocket a stack of notecards with all her lines- also causing delay. Others have photographic memories, and hence remember rapidly. However, he takes time picturing the page in his mind’s eye to recall and then read the line, therefore, are lines memorized? Occasionally actors have played the part before, recollecting lines previously secured in long term memory from that long-last performance.

For those committing lines to memory for the first time, Playhouse West School in Hollywood, California, teaches students to write all the character’s lines- sans any punctuation- and know it as you would the spelling of your name- forwards/backwards without a stress on any one letter/word in particular.  Taking this one step further, I write all the lines half a dozen times, akin to grade school rote learning of spelling words. When recording lines for auditory memorization, the school instructs only record your lines and be conscious to do it in a monotone voice to prevent an ingrained line-read.  The reason to ignore the other character when memorizing is to promote a LISTEN and respond reactiveness.  Should the other actor not have his line, you must not be waiting for a ‘cue’.  Our duty is to respond to what we hear, as if for the very first time, if a scene partner uses a word ‘desire’ when the script actually says ‘demand’ but your line is throwing the same phrase back at him – Listening and repeating the word actually used creates consistency.

If the other actor jumps ahead in the scene, or the play, you may become flustered, if you only know your cues.  Conversely, Listening (and knowing your lines by heart) gifts one with the ability to remain in character and continue flawlessly.  Remember your character’s life.  It is called ‘Play’ for good reason and we all get there, in front of an audience, via our own path.  We collaborate in love of art.

“And all the men and women merely players” – ah Shakespeare.  Some people “act”…. some watch…. some PLAY!  We all play as children, at some point we loose the value of becoming lost in our imaginations. The power of envisioning possibilities.  I swear, one afternoon I practiced a day-dream as an emotional exercise for a scene, and that night it materialized into an actual event in the stairwell and on the rooftop of the acting school.  Oh….and that was a BIG, passionate O, I-talians and their surprises!

An emotional day-dream, as an actor, is a workout for the emotional muscles, so to speak, and the muscles of the imagination- to stretch and strengthen depth and availability for when access is depended upon instantaneously in the moment of a scene.  You’ve heard of marvelous actors such as Daniel Day-Lewis who stay in character throughout the entire filming process, although this method may be mocked by some actors, when you are already IN a state of truth for the imaginary it IS easier to delve deeper and go farther- just as when you work out regularly- strength and endurance are gained.  Take a look at some of Mr. Day-Lewis’s roles and tell me his characters are a shining example of INtensity!  The same is true for emotions and imagination. One may intuit the need for a conscious care and consideration to both areas of what EXACTLY you are strengthening- is it what you truly want, or are you empowering anxiety?

Opening night was recently upon me for a fun four-character thriller I had been rehearsing.  Waiting to enter from backstage, forgotten was fear for the fact I was about to be standing in front of an audience literally in my bra and panties, rather, I dwelled in pure excitement to live TRUTHFULLY in circumstances imaginary to my life- and the passion for PLAY!  Life consists of the moments we endure, the future we hope, and dedication we either put toward or put off to truly achieve our dreams.  Either way Time will pass and we are either disappointed by our stagnancy or  smiley with our progress.