Yesterday, we wrapped up the first week, which focused on "Basics," and was largely about finding the immediate, personal connection between the actor and Shakespeare's words. Today, we have the day off. Most of us are sleeping in, doing laundry, getting massages, and having a special, late brunch, which Ricco is doing for us. Tomorrow, we start the next phase of work, in which we move from solo monologue work to scenes.
Last night, we were given our assigned scenes and scene partners. Neither scene nor partner were up to us. The faculty, after examining and poking and figuring out their charges all this past week, have done their best to put us into situations that challenge us deeply both personally and artistically (if the two can be separated). I was assigned Friar Lawrence in Act III, scene ii of ROMEO AND JULIET. This confused me at first, because Friar Lawrence seems pretty close to me. He's middle aged or older, articulate, well-intentioned, meddlesome, and in the end, ineffectual. But, Margaret--one of the coaches for my Basics group--gently reminded me that Friar Lawrence is high status in these scenes, which reminded me that I do, indeed, tend to throw my status away in both social and professional settings. At least, this is the conclusion that other actors and faculty members have drawn about me, in my time here. For the most part, they have seen that I walk and talk with my head down (partly because I'm so tall--I have to look down to meet people in the eye,) and am almost never the first to speak up, at least not these days. (This is a shift. I used to be the obnoxious know-it-all who everyone wanted to shut up. I've reacted against that.) Also, even though I look down to meet others' eyes, I don't hold them long. My eyes shift and unfocus a lot. Several actors have talked about this with me over the week, drawing my attention to this habit (Neil also tries to keep me aware this.) On stage, this habit is terrible. I DO hold my scene partner's gaze, but I emotionally detach from it, which means I end up acting by myself. And, I have a terrible time letting the audience in, which is necessary especially for doing Shakespeare, which is far more open in it's actor-audience relationship than is modern theater.
And wouldn't you know, the man who has been assigned my scene partner, as Romeo, seems to have the opposite problem. He's a few year older than me, and has no trouble at all speaking up, or demanding attention from those around him. I can't fucking stand him, and he knows it, since we've both avoided each other over the past week. A blow hard and know-it-all.... That is, a guy very much like I see myself to have been, until the very recent past. He's intelligent, articulate, and far more erudite than I, and he wears that erudition on his sleeve. In group conversations, he never knows when to stop, and puts far more energy into proving his knowledge than in furthering a conversation. He wouldn't see it that way, I assure you. But, he seems to have little sense of the SPINE of a conversation. He keeps leading it down paths of his own expertise, which seems to be deep in economics and history (kudos to him for that.) Also, he annoys the shit out of me because he feels emotionally dishonest. He preens, speaking and moving in a smug ecstasy, not too unlike my idea of the typical cult member. Fuck all.
The faculty knew what it was doing when it wed us.
Today, Melissa is driving down for a visit. We'll drive around a bit, perhaps see a movie, buy me some more t-shirts and socks (!), and eat a nice dinner. She's a good one, M.
Note: I write these posts the morning after the day I'm writing about, in case my tenses have been confusing. Today is actually "Day Seven," though I'm wrapping up "Day Six," above.