Letters to Holly

Friday, October 19

My Big Speech

Here's what I got off iTunes with my bestowed freebie points:

Teenagers - My Chemical Romance
I thought it'd go well on the next mix CD for Your Sis. It's one of those songs that should be the product of a completely different band. This sounds like an old-school Aerosmith song with a Georgia Satellite guitar solo.

I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
This is from the Departed soundtrack. She commented on this song during the film. I imagine you hear this song once a day.

Something About You - Level 42
Level 42 was of those '80s bands that were only able to align their musical stars once or twice. Squeeze was the same way. Their best-of collections are a bewildering mass of weak efforts. And then you hear the big songs, and it's as if someone else stepped in to arrange their elements in the magical combination to produce Good Pop Music. Now, Simple Minds, there was a band who made nothing but good stuff, although they're only known for Don't You Forget About Me. Their best-of anthology is quality from track to track. This was Level 42's first and biggest song, and it's a standout of the decade's British sythnesizer tunes.

Space Age Love Song - A Flock of Seagulls
The better of the band's two hits, eclipsed eternally by I Ran. There's nothing wrong with that song; in fact, it's a great rock song. But I like this ballad a lot. It has that sustained tone that punctuated the better '80s songs.

Stronger - Kanye West
Yes, the song I discovered in Washington during your time with us. It is a long tune -- over 5 minutes -- and I that was my impression when I saw the video. It sounds like the only banger from his latest CD.

Last week, I also bought the new Annie Lennox CD and managed to download the new Radiohead from their pay-as-you-will experiment. This new stuff is a tight collection, stronger than Hail to the Thief and maybe their best collection since OK Computer.

We run Act Three on Thursdays, but we don’t have the defendant tonight. She doesn’t call in to say she’s late or won’t make it. The first housekeeper reads her lines instead, and the change of rhythm shakes me off a few lines. She hasn’t seen this scene performed and, at one point, she leaves the witness stand to talk to the gangster. I stumble on a few lines but pick it back up.

What I’m most concerned with is the closing argument, the long monologue written with desperation to keep the jury from buying the conspiracy theory. I almost, almost nail it. I hesitate on one line because my brain didn’t connect the visual pieces of the script. I thought I had missed a line. I hadn’t; I just didn’t assemble those pieces. But I notice as I’m reciting the lines that it works better aloud than it does on the page. I’m not thrilled with the adamant vocal cues – italics or all caps – but when I say the lines, those cues work and work well. The closing speech is a testament to facts and logic, a clear opposition to the defense attorney’s plea for the jury to look within their souls and hearts. But because my character relies so heavily on the initial facts, he becomes emotional about their strength, but the script doesn’t give him the crack that makes him unhinged. He’s barely restrained, but clearly invested in the conclusion of this case. It’s a strong ending to the play, and I wonder if it’s designed to sway the jury to his cold position. This is an Ayn Rand show, after all.

In between practices, we’re told to not telegraph our emotions. I suspect this happens as lawyers prepare to leap up for their objections. I also hear the actor/photographer who sparked the distress last week plead his point to the other actors. He wants to replicate what earlier shows did, and provide the lawyers with their scripts disguised as legal papers at their tables. He said the last production of this show with this theatre directed the lawyer secretaries to keep the current play script page on the table for the lawyer to pick up if he needed it. He doesn’t want us to memorize the proceedings, saying it’s not realistic.

Me, I’m ambivalent about it. I plant to have the witness list on my legal pad and scratch them off or make script notes while the other attorney works his lines. This is what I do now instead of reading my script. But I don’t want to have the script onstage, not when I have the lines down so well (let’s say 98 percent at this point). He also tells us the actor playing the Swedish bookkeeper played the role in the ‘70s when this show was first mounted. When we do the second run, he becomes so engrossed in his Dean Koontz book that he misses both his cue to run onstage and the repeated calls for his character by the director. We all laugh it off.

The judge is trying to memorize his lines, but he’s having difficulty, and again, there’s no reason why he can’t have his script in front of him. The audience can’t see it. I do get a comment from another actor that I may talk too fast for the audience to follow, and that’s a complaint I’ve gotten before. I was worried about it, and I work on it during the second run. I notice my voice gets deeper as my guy becomes more indignant. The line readers are passive tonight, and I notice in my scene with the gangster that I forgot some lines. I stop the scene, apologize, and go back to add those lines. In other parts of the act, I hear and see the script pages flip, and I’m able to visually remember exactly where we are in the script, and those lines come easy.

On the second run, the closing argument practically becomes the St. Crispin speech from Henry V. It is unquestionably the most fun part of my lines. I now suddenly love this monologue. And it’s the last thing I say. It’s my big ending.

Official play website

Punching a Cop Is Bad, Right?
Act Two Redux
Friday Through Sunday
Getting Serious
Our First Friday
Act Three Lines
Dusting Off Act One
Line Trouble
End of Second Week
'Go and Do Likewise, Gents'
Script Work
Walking and Talking
Marking the Floor


First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

Picture of the Day
Grr. Flaming Attorney smash puny defendant!

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