Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Last night's rehearsal was good. I think I finally turned a corner and have a grip on what I need to be doing. Andrea' has always been pretty clear on what she wanted - bigger, more character, more interesting - especially in the opening monologue. But I simply couldn't bring that out with the character and the lines as written. When I wrote it, I unconsciously shaped Marian as my child's eye saw her. Lady-like, well-spoken, elegant. And I couldn't take the monologue written for that character and apply it to this big, brazen and heroic character that Andrea' wanted. It took me a good week or so to figure out why I couldn't just give her what she wanted, but once I figured it out, with some key re-writes, I was able to get there last night. I still have a little ways to go perfecting the changes, but the hardest part is over. Whew. Anyone who says that children's theatre isn't difficult has never tried it. And it is worse when you are working against the writing. Good thing I did write it though. Being able to change my lines at will is a great perk.

On an interesting note, having your best friend as your director can complicate things a little bit. I don't have a problem taking direction from her as I respect her expertise in this area very much. But I know her. I mean, I really know her. And I can pretty much read every nuance of her body language and her words. Not just what she says but what she doesn't say. And during my learning process and my character difficulties, I felt her worry and her nervous energy in a way I am sure she didn't mean to happen. And it made it harder for me to relax and get into the groove. I t made me clam up a bit. And doubt myself - granted, I always doubt myself at the beginning of a rehearsal process. But I just felt uneasy and wondered if doing this show myself was the right thing to do.

But last night as we finished rehearsal, Andrea' came up to say how much improved I was and I could just feel the relief radiating off of her. So in my head I thought, "OK, what gives?" My character wasn't there before, but it wasn't that bad. Even at my worst I don't completely suck. And Andrea' knows damned well, from doing so many shows with me, that I am an actor that needs a rehearsal process to get a character right. She knows I eventually snap into it and take off running.

So I called her on it and she had to admit that she had been worried, but that it had nothing to do with me. She wouldn't say anymore, but I have to assume that there is some kind of political pressure afoot. I kind of expected a bit of that anyway. You can't put a non-company actor in a key role in the play she wrote, which is directed by her best friend, and not expect there to be a bit of political fallout. I have been involved with enough theatres to accept this fact as given and not worth worrying about.

And Andrea' never meant for me to know. And of course she hasn't told me anything about it. But a great friendship is like a marriage. You can't come home with whisky on your breath on not expect your wife to smell it.

But all is good. I have made my usual overnight snap into the character and can spend the next two weeks improving it with the help from my talented director. It is gonna be a great show.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No white before Memorial day? God I hate this crap. Just saw a whole feature on one of the morning shows about it. Apparently Merideth Viera wore white pants last week and received a shocking number of emails about how you aren't supposed to wear white till after Memorial day and only until Labor day. Of course the fashion experts they asked all said the same thing. The rules are old and stupid. Stop worrying about it. But all the women on the street insisted that the rules were valid and they couldn't let them go.

I find the whole thing so fricken stupid, I can hardly stand it. Probably because I live in Texas, the land of 2 seasons. Common sense wise, especially in past generations, it probably was simply smart dressing to leave your white shoes in the closet till all the snow was melted and the spring rains gave way to summer. Less opportunity for your white clothes to get stained and dirty.

But come on. It shouldn't be such a hard and fast rule that people - women - freak out about it and judge other women because of it.

I remember trying to help a college friend find something to wear for a date. She just couldn't find something suitable. Mostly because she was from a northern state and couldn't catch a grip that it was ok to wear a short sleeve, knee length dress in November. "It's out of season, it's out of season." She kept chirping at me. I never did get through to her that, yes it is November, but it is still 90 fricken degrees outside, cuase we are in Texas, wear the fricken dress already. I don't remember what she wore. Probably a sweater or something equally sweltering and 'in season.'

Sigh. I never fit in very well to female culture. This kind of stuff really bothers me. We love to make rules and classify other women based on their ability to follow them. I don't want to follow the rules on principle. So there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Little boy and his pond

Jackson discovered the abandoned koi pond in the backyard. He also figured out that rocks + ponds = hilarity. Enjoy

Man, when I get out of the habit of blogging, it is hard to go back. But I need to get with it, I know. Things have been busy. And I feel guilty about blogging when I have lines to learn.
Jackson just got over the stomach flu. That was fun. Poor baby had about 36 hours of off and on throwing up and then he decided it would be easier to just let it all out the other end. Messy, but at least I didn't have to chase him around with a bowl anymore. Too much information probably, sorry. The first picture is of him sleeping in the chair with me. My baby never sleeps in my arms unless he is sick. It is very bittersweet. I cherish the time holding the sleeping boy, but I know it is only because he isn't feeling well. Notice the Spiderman balloon he is still clutching in his sleeping fingers. Jackson decided it was the best medicine that Walgreen's had. He is doing well now as the second pic shows. He likes to play in the rain. He is all recovered from his 2 week cold and then this stomach bug. We may have a few weeks of health to look forward to, until he comes in contact with something else his immune system needs to tackle.

I just finished a two-weekend show at the Round Rock Public Library. They do a murder mystery fundraiser every year and a friend asked me to come be in it as a favor. So I did. It was really well attended and the audience seemed to have a good time. I had more fun than I thought I would. The group that does the show are mostly city employees; library staff, police and city. They are not actors, they are not directors, they are not writers. They are not theatre people. They bring in a couple of local actors to fill in where needed. And it is not really up to the caliber of show I am used to doing. But they have a good time and the show was well attended. Apparently this is their 16th year of doing this fundraiser and they have several hundred regulars who come. They know the actors, for the most part, are city employees and they aren't expecting great theatre. Heh, they seemed to laugh harder when people forgot lines or the light board operator forgot to turn the lights off at the end of a scene and an actor said "Yeah, this would be a good time for the lights to go out." The group also has a stock line for when they have hopelessly forgotten their lines and they can't save it. My actor friends are going to die when they hear this, but true story, the person who is lost says "And that's all I'm going to say about that." Really. We had an actor say it. And the audience howled, making me wonder if the line is an open joke in this little library community. Anyway. I had a bit of a hard time with the extreme amateur nature of the production. Such as arriving on time to each rehearsal only to begin 30 minutes later and only because I got testy and said "can we go ahead and get started now?" I also kinda took over backstage with the props and such and probably left them all with the impression that I am a big ol diva. I didn't mean to behave badly and I am not sure that I actually did. It is just that I take theatre very seriously. You don't have to be a professional theatre to put on a professional show. And I simply could not relax and go with the flow with this group because to me, this is important stuff and little things like a dress rehearsal where no one drops character and/or calls for lines are to me, a crucial part of staging a show. And when people are paying $25 a ticket, IMHO "And that's all I'm going to say about that" should appear no where in the production.

The Scottish Rite Children's Theatre has begun rehearsals for my show, Robin Hood, directed by my best friend Andrea'. Andrea', who, in her infinite wisdom, decided to let me play Maid Marian. So I get to be an actor in my own show! It has been lots of fun so far. The three men in the play with me are pro's. Really. As a cast we are off book already and ready to spend the next few weeks perfecting things before we open April 21st. I have to shake myself a bit now and then, because this is such a professional theatre company that I sometimes feel a little out of my league. The guys really are fabulous character actors and I am, well, an ingenue who needs to loosen up in order to be interesting to children. I hope I can get it. But to be honest, it is my own fault. I wrote Marian as a "straight man" to Robin Hood, Little John and the Sheriff. I didn't mean to. I think. It just turned out that way. She is the central figure, around whom the action takes place. It was important to me that she not simply be a damsel in distress. She is the Royal Accountant and she is siphoning money from the taxes for Robin Hood to give back to the poor. She is important to the story and she takes action to change things, she doesn't just wait for Robin Hood to change things for her. But she is definitely the straight man. And for me, that is difficult to play. How do I make her interesting without dulling her serious function? She isn't dumb or ditzy. I suppose she could be clumsy...hmm. I just need to figure some things out so I can stand up there next to these men and not fade into the background. I am already working at rehearsals to project so I can be heard in the theatre without a mic. I know I will get it. And I am sure Andrea' will read this and make sure I get it. I just seem to fall back into self-doubt at the beginning of every rehearsal process. It's like I have to go through doubting myself in every role I play before I can kick myself in the pants and get it right. Do other actors do this? Am I the only one to play the "I'm not good enough, so I better work harder and make sure no one else catches on" game? I dunno. I am just an actor that requires a rehearsal process, I guess.

On a good note, the show itself is actually funny! I mean, I thought it was funny when I wrote it. And after workshopping it and making some crucial and wonderful changes to the script, I thought it was downright great. But rehearsing it with these very funny men and our very funny director has been a riot. I just can't stop smiling when I watch the guys sword fight with loaves of bread and I think (a la Sally Field), "Holy Crap, this is funny, it really is funny!"

Also, the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Dallas has asked for us to come present the show for their kids in June! They will pay room and board and pay us for the additional shows. I am so excited. It will take some planning cause if I am gone on a Mon and Tues then someone will need to keep the small boy. But what an opportunity. I feel like a pro. Our show is going to tour to Dallas. I just hope that I don't get emotional about seeing the sick children. I have a hard time with that now that I am a mom. Hits you where you live really fast when you see a kid, just like your kid, who has some terrible illness. But it will be a good time for the kids, I am sure. Something different and fun. I am sure I can manage to deal with that.