Letters to Holly

Friday, September 21

Walking and Talking

Today's fast-food supper: Arby's. One worry of theatre is eating badly and putting on weight. This is especially bad after you've been measured for a costume. Unlike the last show, where I had an hour commute after rehearsals and performances, the warehouse is just five minutes from my house. I should go home, snack, and drive to the rehearsal. But at home I'm distracted by mail and cats and the sweet allure of Pardon the Interruption. And there's the subsequent danger of my lawyer sounding like Tony Kornheiser.

We walk through Act Two tonight, and it starts with a very long broad comedy piece with a Swedish housekeeper excoriating the defendant as a greedy hussy. The defendant then takes the stand to explain how she met and fell under the spell of the deceased.

Someone brings a Wiki bio of Ayn Rand, and the cast take turns glancing at her life and philosophy. These comes as a surprise to many, especially the defendant. She starts to understand how Rand wants her female characters swayed by the heroic menfolk. And her testimony is packed with comments about her happy, wanton obedience. Many small conversations overlap about her connects to Alan Greenspan, her 50-year marriage, and her hatred for feminism. It reminds me of the Hot Lips quote from MASH: "I could never love a man who didn't outrank me." Some of us have read Rand; some have never heard of her. Most of us don't know how to pronounce her name (Hint, it ain't "Ann." Really. Stop it.).

I should mention the age spread of the cast. There are three or four young recent grads, me and the defendant at 30-40, and then a pack of silver hair. The latter is accompanied by a significant lack of hearing, and conversations take a while. The judge, who has the script in his lap, constantly misses his cues. On the other hand, a young actor has yet to show up and read his part.

One of our first play-related conversations involves costuming. The play stretches over three days, but there's no reason for us to leave the court, change, and come back in. It will just elongate the show. The mock-up of the courtroom unfortunately blocks the jury with the defense table and creates a small nook next to the witness stand. It makes strolling the court and working the jury awkward. Don't block the witness, cheat out to the audiences, don't stand in front of the other attorney and the defendant. We're hoping to get into the courtroom soon to physically see the floorspace. The producer, who saw and documented the courtroom, has taken ill and will miss the entire show. We need the director to rethink the practice space.

I'm also told to make my character more arrogant, to "strut" about the trial. I know I'm not yet steeped in the Denzel; I'm coasting a bit while I try to plot movement and inflection. And in a show that can become broad, I don't want to walk like Vince McMahon storming the ring. I'll be able to concentrate on posture and flow once I get this damn script out of my hand. Yes, I'm saying this just a week into rehearsals. I would love to get Act One memorized by Monday, but that's quite a chore.

I'm consistently getting laughs with the one bit of comedy Flint has: He laughs at his own joke, and the judge silently chides him. It's a moment of deflation dependent on puffing up the attorney beforehand. This is the act where the attorney shows more liveliness, and I have obvious moments of lighthearted mocking of accents and criminal behavior.

I'll spend the weekend running through Act One, braking the script down witness by witness and trying to get a handle on the sprawling opening argument.

Marking the Floor


First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

Picture of the Day
The epitome of awesome.


Anonymous said...

I haven't even told you "congratulations" yet.

So, with no further ado...


I look forward to reading about the rehersals and the fleshing out of your character. I loved the blog on a hot tin roof.

Again, congrats!

Gregory said...

I appreciate it.

I remain cynical that we'll make it to a real courtroom, though. Just pessimism rearing its head.