Saturday, September 29, 2007

Week Six: Random Tasks

Today I'm forcing myself to make progress with my solo dance piece, though I'm not putting it up on it's feet until tomorrow, since just walking into an empty rehearsal studio with my recording didn't work out well for me when I tried it, a few days ago. I had thought that I could get through my block by playing the music and "just moving," but instead, all I did was wander in circles, numbed by inevitable failure, feeling put-upon by the calf muscle I'd pulled in Suzuki (and which still hurts; I'm wrapping it.) I couldn't "feel" the music or let story come to me. But, a rough draft of the thing is due on Tuesday, so I must get this thing created.

The approach I finally hit on is to impose the most simple-minded structure I could devise and which I happen to know well: the five stages of grief (or, what I take to be the five stages; mine might be different than yours.) This seems to be working out. I'v been able to break the music up into miniature acts. Some gestures, poses, and moves have been coming to me, not yet enough to fill the thing out, but much more than I had a few days ago.

Another task today includes: reworking my monologue from Duke Senior (i.e., "Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile....") so that it doesn't sound angry, which is the note I've been getting on it, which confused the hell out of me until I watched an old BBC version (one with Helen Mirren as Rosalynd) and finally figured out why that actor seemed generous and calm while I haven't. Watching him, I realized that whereas I thought I've been playing verbs such as "invite" and "comfort," I'd in fact been playing something more like "to rally," which has (apparently) been coming off much more martial, though I haven't felt that way. I think I've found the element of 'contentment' in the Duke I need... and none too soon. Christ Owens, the Artistic Director of Virginia Shakespeare Festival, has asked Jack if we would audition for him on November 1st (Raymond Caldwell, Artistic Director of Texas Shakespeare Festival, also wants to see us in December.) Jack doesn't believe we're ready and may well tell Mr. Owens to give us another year, but Monday he's taking a look at what we have.

The other piece I hope to do for Mr. Owens is Malvolio's final speech ("Madam, you have done me wrong...") which contrasts nicely with Duke Senior. In kinesthetic terms, the Duke is light, slow, released and sustained, and Malvolio is heavy, quick, bound and staccato (or, so they are for me, now).

Also, today: re-reading CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, from which I've been assigned a scene in which I play Brick, across from Big Daddy (being played by a skinny, up-tempo 24-year-old actor). We're presenting these in class in two weeks on the day we hand in a 20 page autobiography of the character which we are to have written in one sitting, the idea being that our rehearsals--in which we utilize the cold reading exercises we did during the first four weeks--should give us enough material.

Also, today: do some preliminary foraging in TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK. Rehearsals start Monday. I'm supposed to be off book by Tuesday.

Other work coming up between now and end of Nov.: 150 undergraduate papers to grade; IPA notation to learn; British Standard Dialogue to develop for ARCADIA (rehearsals start week after next); in-class presentation on Tyrone Guthrie for my one academic class, "Acting and Directing Theory," taught by Sidney Berger. That's October.

Other news: I've been cast as OLD MAN in GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN. I'm getting used a lot as a utility actor for 'age appropriate' casting.

On a personal note: I'm feeling lonely, but I realize that "loneliness" is more a symptom of my fear of/resistance to the work than it is about wanting companionship. Magically, when I get through the tasks that scare me, I'm okay.

I know you want to hear what we're doing in class, but that's going to have to wait a few days....

1 comment:

fredw said...

hi, david
it actually sounds like fun, all the tasks you're being given, except for the grading papers part. if only you had more time to devote to each one. are you back in pdx for thanksgiving or xmas?