Monday, February 07, 2011


Preparing James Tyrone Jr. for A Moon for the Misbegotten taught me one big acting lesson--how to underplay more effectively--and reminded me that I can work quickly and in a more relaxed fashion than ever before.  In my first year in Philadelphia during which I worked on stage a substantial amount, made a little money in on-camera/voice over work, and auditioned a lot, my work has settled.  I trust more both my instincts and the process of discovery in creating a role.

Jim Tyrone Jr. is a big part. I memorized it almost d.l.p. in three weeks. Titus, in Titus Andronicus, might have been as big (or bigger) a line load but it took me well over six weeks to memorize it to the same proficiency. Much of the unproductive tension I used to feel during rehearsals seems to have eased away for me.  Again, my sister said it best, when she noted during a recent visit with her, "you seem to be trusting your talent more."  As a bonus, understudying at The Arden put my work on the radar with some theater artists in Philadelphia with whom I hope to work.

But this will be the last understudy gig I do in which I don't also have another part in the show to play. Understudying wreaks too much havoc with life:  I don't dare take on-camera jobs lest I have to go on stage during a shoot; nor dare I travel out of town for regional auditions or to visit my girlfriend (who lives in Houston). I'm sitting at home more than I want to be, feeling broke and unloved, restless.

I am writing more, to take advantage of the time on my hands and being more broke than usual, and I'm exercising more, and running my lines and blocking every day, just in case.  What I'm not doing (much) is going down to Quig's Pub--the Philly actors' opium den (not really)--lest I find myself drinking more than is healthy or boring the socks off other actors.

Two movies I've seen in the past week gave me a fright: the animated Illusionist and live action Somewhere. Both movies depict the lives of performers who spend more time than is healthy in limbo while offstage, from which they find relief only on-stage or on camera.  I take them as cautionary tales.

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