Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Third Rehearsal and an Interview

We tackled the biggies today - "Lorenzo," "F-ing B" (title edited for your young ears), and "Paper Cranes". They're working. They're beasts, but they're working. Thank goodness!

There was a moment today when Michael was giving directions about the fight scene in "F-ing B" and he explained it by saying, "It's the Scottish play, you know? Where the McDuff family is killed... (he waved his hand towards the wings) over there."

And I loved (LOVED) the fact that I was in a place where explanations are Shakespeare references. Meg, you're going to have to get your company to do my play so I can keep living this dream. I know it's not at all their cup of tea, but oh, it would be fun!

Matt is by far the best actor in the group. He's got the new piece, the one about the school shooting, and when we reached it today he and Michael just talked about how they wanted it, and then skipped to the end to move on. Of course he didn't need to run it, and of course we're majorly pressed for time, but oh, I wanted to see him do it!

He also found a way to make "The Ford Twins" a funny piece, which, as soon as he did it, made me slap my figurative forehead and say, "Of course it's a funny piece!" Except I have no idea how to translate what he did into stage directions that will work for future productions. Jenny, the youngest actor, also found some really good fun to have with the "Alex" piece that takes away some of the whiney maudlin stuff that I had worried had overtaken it. Michael saw what the real (and funny) conflict was for the teacher in the piece and he knew what directions to give her so she could play up the awkward humor of the story.

I had to write a new section for a piece last night to give it more context. It was a bit stressful for me to have Michael hand out the new page to everybody today with this, this, trust in me and my writing. Like what I came up with in a few hours would be good enough for them, for this. Everything else in the show has been tried and proven and most of it we've lived with for several years, so something so brand spankin' new was scary. But it was fine, it worked, and it got some laughs. So, yay me.

We also reached the voice piece today, which is my baby as much as "Lorenzo" is. I have more faith in "Lorenzo" because the story can carry that monologue. The voice piece, though, is not so much a story - it relies on the actor and, more importantly, on her ability to deliver it well. Jenny performed it today, but it was just a performance - precise, grounded, and, well, stiff. It was a fine piece of elocution, but she didn't show any of the soul and the fire that the speech needs to have to work.

I was worried about it, since there's only one rehearsal left and that speech carries the play to its ending. After rehearsal, though, I stopped Jenny to give her a quick word pronunciation note and she had a few questions for me about "Alex", and then Michael crouched next to us and we were suddenly talking about the voice piece and Jenny said, "I don't know if you know what you're doing to me, giving this piece to me." She went on to talk about how terribly, terribly personal that piece was for her, how it has her voice some of her own fears and hangups. She told us her story, getting passionate and tearful, and Michael just beamed at her and said, "That's it. That's the story you tell when you say this piece, and you'll be fine." I nodded in total agreement. It's a piece she needs to do.

Do you get how strange that is, though? How it feels to write something that connects with someone on that level, that makes them say, "Yes. Yes! That's me, I get it, yes."?

After rehearsal I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to the adminstration offices for the USF for a phone interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. The reporter, oddly, sounded nervous. She asked me and I told her all about the play - how it came to be, what it's about, who it's for, what we hope it'll do. She seemed interested, and also asked for photos to go along with the article, "Of you, or of the actors." Balking at the idea of my picture being the one there, I quickly said we should be able to take some pictures at tomorrow's rehearsal.

I then went to a matinee of the musical Great Expectations. It was pretty meh. So far, I'd rank the shows in the order I saw them in - Pride and Prejudice was the best of the bunch, then 39 Steps (which I saw yesterday. It got a lot of laughs, but it was almost a copy of the New York/London production. Which is fine, but a lot of the gags were just enough clumsy that they didn't quite work so the audience was laughing more out of their love for the company actors than the gags itself (There was a good bit that I don't recall from the original where the clowns spit repeatedly on the hero/heroine to simulate a bog. Mom? Dad? Was that in the original?). Great Expectations was clunky, but I chalk that up to the script/libretto more than the original. And I know it's a stage show, but I was really hoping to see Miss Havisham go up in flames, not just scream while they flickered red lights on her then faded to darkness. It's really a great image from the book, and I kept thinking that the Tiger Lillies would have burned her nicely.

I'm off to see Macbeth now. I've never seen a full production of it before, so I've got high hopes.

I will say, though, that every time I step inside a theater here I get that little shiver of pure delight at seeing the stage and knowing I'm about to see a play. Man, I'm lucky to be here.

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