Letters to Holly

Tuesday, February 26

Day 11: Act One Fragments

We start the evening by looking at costume options. Two blazer suits from storage are too small for me to wear. The jackets look fine until I move my arms, and then the sleeves shrink. I can look for such blazers at the local donation stores. The director also suggested an ascot for my character, which leaves a bolo tie, a dickie, and a noose as the only neckwear I've yet to try for theatre.

We run Act One in segments to tighten up movement. Both male actors are amazed at how much is covered within 5-page increments. This script is huge and unnecessarily wordy. Too much passive voice, too many clutter words. It's clearly a British script from the '70s, and I don't regert for an instant requesting we drop the accents. That would have been too much to shoulder. The best scene of Act One remains the argument between the lazy husband and the rich wife. It's quick and animated, whereas the rest of the act is a slow con punctuated by short questions and long answers. The argument has give and take and waves of emotions. The wife actress is bringing it every night. It's such a good role: it's one act long, she rips apart her schlub hubby, and she dies twice onstage. Then she puts her feet up for 90 minutes.

One habit the director is trying to break me of is turning out to the audience. One of the fundamental rules of theatre is that you don't turn your back; you always face front, even when you're allegedly looking at the other actors. You cheat your body at an angle so the audience rarely sees you in profile. You're usually at least at three-quarters to them. When I move to the bar in this play, I'm always backing up a bit so I look at the audience and the other actor. Almost every movement to the bar has dialogue, and I didn't want to speak to the back wall. But the director says it looks unnatural. I don't mind organic movement so long as the audience can hear me. Hoepfully the words will echo off the wall and back to their ears. Also, I go to the bar about a dozen times. And I get a drink each time.

I had a similar role in Barefoot in the Park, and we used juice instead of liquor. When one performance was over, my parents came backstage while I was talking to Your Sister. My Mom asked, "Son, don't you know what apple juice does to you?" That was the first impression Your Sister had of the woman who would later become her mother-in-law.

We get a new schedule, and it's not so different from before. We get this Wednesday off. I'm within 20 pages of memorizing the script, and the extra night will give me some more time to work on that. We are to be off book by the middle of next week.

Picture of the Day
Yes, it's a robot head.


Anonymous said...

wait, what does apple juice do to YOU?

and seriously, a dickie as neckwear. dickies are fake collars and the suggestion of a real shirt beneath. probably like a shirtwaist in women's fashion at the turn of the last century. neckwear never pretends to be something else. a tie is a tie, a scarf, an ascot is not a cravatte. i think of dickies as the most mock of all the mock turtlenecks.
and with that strange rant, i'll leave the library.

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