Letters to Holly

Tuesday, February 5

Starting Up the Play

Your Sister was more disheartened than I to learn I was out of the contest. She was oddly quiet for a while. Me, I'm planning to make a minicomic out of the proposals; it could be listed as a business expense on next year's taxes.

+ + +

Six of us met for the read-through last night: the four actors, the director, and his wife. This was the first chance for me to read the script, and my first thought upon opening it is that this will be the toughest script I've had to memorize. It's dense, even at a seemingly short 68 pages. The dialogue is single spaced and packed tight. It's twice the text of the last script, and my part then was considered too long to memorize. I have 2 weeks to learn Act One's 25 pages, and that breaks down to about 2 pages a day. Starting right now. This is daunting. The two actors indeed carry the show.

The play itself is simple enough: con guy kills the wife of a schlub and then blackmails him in a psychosexual melodrama. One set, two acts, four people (con guy, husband, wife, mistress). I met the latter tonight, and everyone seems to have the same idea of the type of play. That helps, especially with this tight rehearsal schedule. We open in five weeks.

The director set down his rules in a friendly manner and explained he won't allow the kind of ugly backstage drama they had on the last few shows. He then gave short character notes to get our heads right and asked us to determine if we wanted to try the play with the original British accents. By the end of the read, I asked out of that. It's going to be tough enough learning this in an American dialect. If we had another three weeks, maybe. He seemed OK with that. Everybody did. And that's a relief. He's planned out this play for months if not years. He has the set design and blocking in mind already, and he gave us a full rehearsal script on the first day. He's ready to roll.

It's going to be a fun part to play. My guy's a washed-up sportsman mooching off the missus and trapped by the con guy because he's easily manipulated and weak. And then he cracks by the play's end. I didn't really have a character in the last play -- just a stack of questions to recite -- and I'm looking forward to this role. I'm already thinking of actors to emulate (William H. Macy, Paul Giamatti, etc.).

I started my usual theatre diet (soup and bread) last night because I had so little time between work and rehearsal. When this is over, I should be in good shape to start running again. If I have any brains left.

Picture of the Day
Quick! To the Bat-bat!

In the News(papers)
My old weekly newspaper has again gone under. It closed about three months after I moved in 2004 and came back about than a year later under a new name and owned by James, the writer with whom I butted heads. As of Friday, the print version is again no more, and a posting on their website says he's walking away and leaving the online presence in other hands. James cites "a level of support hard to obtain without excessive pandering in a free publication funded solely by advertising dollars." I don't know what he expected after working for the same free paper for years.

I think "pandering" refers to his perception of a stubborn audience he couldn't win over; the paper was distinct in the area for its progressive voice, and, unfortunately, that voice tended to get shrill. He might also complain about the weekly tabloid launched by the town daily, but that paper is a hollow ad vehicle lacking any substance. There were enough willing, small businesses in the area to support our weekly before the decision was made to slough them and target high-end clients already dedicated to the daily. The paper had a bad business model, and this is what happens to bad business models.

+ + +

I'm dying to know what Tuesday was like for you. Spill it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh,i will spill. but over the phone, and over the weekend.