Letters to Holly

Wednesday, December 20

Day Ten: Pictures and Pages

We arrive early for promotional pictures and program headshots. The theatre office manager takes the pictures which is a much nicer arrangement than that of my last theatre. There, we had to make appointments with a third party and pay $100 a sitting. If you partnered up with someone, you could split the cost, but still.

I'm the first to arrive, and I poke my head into the costume room to say to Linda. She asks me try on two suits for Gooper. Both brownish, but one much too large. There's a screen in the corner to change behind, and while I make conversational noise to ensure everyone knows I'm there, Maggie walks in on me. She was hoping to try on her dress, and I'm covered up enough to avoid embarrassment. Although, once you do theatre, you lose that fear. You have to.

Sometimes you change clothes in the wings of the stage, and expediency trumps humility. Also, this is a bonus. The very best thing about high-school drama was seeing a popular cheerleader girl change clothes backstage. This was a fact I cheerfully unloaded on the bullies who called me gay. If I was gay, I told them, I wouldn't have watched THE WHOLE THING. I think I saw places her boyfriend didn't. And he didn't enjoy that information. But I outran him.

The photo session, happily, is free and quick. I will shave and wear contacts for the role and will look very different from my headshot, which I like. I only have my headshot taken, and the manager photographer tells me she saw my program bio (resplendent in ego) and noticed I was from Spartanburg, as is she. Turns out we went to the same high school four years apart. I'm the older. We traded notes on students and classes and such. It's fun talk, and I chat while she takes the pictures of almost everyone else. It's the most animated conversation I've had among this group. Because she has to run off and let us rehearse we agree to continue the old-home chat later.

Big Daddy is back, and we read the last half of Act Three before blocking it. Big Mama is not here as she drove her mom to the Charlotte airport. She arrives halfway through tonight's rehearsal. Victoria has acted and moved in her stead, and Mama gets her notes from her. She's a little coughy tonight and refrains from hitting the higher notes of the script. I am given a briefcase to maneuver during the act, and it makes for tricky juggling with the script and the pencil.

Big Daddy's performance includes a death stare that makes Gooper's nervousness very easy to portray. I'm also anxious about this take of Gooper with him. I will be the third Gooper actor he's worked with, and I don't know how they worked the role opposite him. Between him and the briefcase, I don't do a very good Gooper tonight. I just don't get into that groove.

The rehearsal flies by, and we leave with new schedules, and notices that we are to be off book by January 2 and possibly start working onstage Wednesday night. I look forward to that. I have two weeks to learn my lines, and I have no excuse not to manage that. I have movement to mark my lines now, and I have the least amount of lines of the six principal parts.

Picture of the Day
Here's an example of a script page as it now exists. You can see where I marked the script's direction for Gooper and wrote my notes. The ones in brackets are new stage directions, and the non-bracketed notes are character developments. You never write in ink because everything can change. We're jettison some directions in favor of our own movements. For instance, Gooper and Mae are now opposite Big Daddy instead of sharing a stage side with him. That physical comedy of them trying to escape isn't so important that we follow the script. It goes away. Instead of Gooper saying "'scuse me" to Daddy, he now says it to Mae as he walks back to the couch to get the open briefcase and estate paperwork. But I say it low and nervous so the moment still has a laugh (hopefully).

My handwriting is not normally this bad, but I'm writing as I'm walking and talking.

Previous entries:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine

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