Monday, July 26, 2010

Hell Week

So, sorry for being so un-wordy (yes, that is a word) for the last week or so, but tech and then previews and then opening have utterly kicked my ass. Geeze, where to begin.

Well, tech in professional theater is even worse than tech in college, which I didn't know was possible. There are these things called "ten out of twelves" that we had a three times in tech where you rehearse from noon to midnight with a two hour dinner break somewhere in there. It was really slow going. The whole process reminded me of something I heard someone say about war once: long periods of boredom punctuated by brief moments of utter terror. There were parts where the interns weren't needed for hours at a time, but you couldn't ever go relax because you could be needed at any moment. By the end of the first 10/12 we were all a bit twitchy at loud noises. Also, unlike the rest of the company interns have class at 9 AM every day, so we're there from 9 AM to midnight.

Thus ends the complaining portion of our program.

Because the show. The show. You guys. It is so good.

The pieces have all fallen into place, nudged there over the course of the past month and it all just clicked, beautifully, to show the whole picture. For example: there was a bit of a fiasco with these tapestries that are supposed to unfurl in this scene change to Philip's room in the castle. It's this huge change, conducted by Philip himself, that transforms the whole place from stark, spartan Henry-Land to opulent Philip-Land. We have had so much trouble with these tapestries.

These bars are supposed to go up in the scene change and then the tapestry falls over it to create this hiding place where Geoffrey goes in the middle of the scene. The bars didn't go up. Olivia, our stage management intern, ran backstage to catch Aaron (who plays Geoffrey) to tell him what had happened. The tapestry covers the bars completely, and she was sure he would just walk straight into the solid metal bars when he was trying to hide. So Olivia comes booking down the ramp that leads into the back of the vom and trips and falls on the incline, doing a face-plant at the feet of Aaron and Marco, much to their surprise. She pops up and gasps out "AARON, THE BARS DIDN'T GO UP" and then notices her knees are skinned beyond belief. Aaron is a tad bewildered and thanks her, and decides to hide behind the other tapestry in the remaining two seconds he has to think before he goes onstage.

Now here's the kicker: this scene has all the makings of a French farce. All the brothers are hiding in the room while Henry and Philip have a long conversation about them. The spot where Aaron would have been? The one with the bars closing it off? The tapestry dropped and revealed everything behind it. If he'd been hiding where he normally was, Henry would have seen him. Moral of the story? Bad luck plus more bad luck equals good luck and a story.

So that happened. And then every night in tech and previews at least one of the three tapestries didn't work at all. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place just on opening night. We watched from the vom as all the tapestries fell into place and lo: it was good.

Everything's in place now, and I can focus on La Ronde. But that's another entry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Fear

Tech for Lion starts tomorrow, so we're really getting down to the wire. The days are getting longer, and the rehearsals more intense. Kandis was talking about how she always tells the costume people to get sweat guards in her costumes before a performance. "Once that fear-sweat gets in there, there's no getting the smell out again. I don't want someone to have to wear it and smell the fear." It's a bit of a relief that that fear never really goes away, no matter how long you do this whole "acting" thing.

I've almost got my lines for Eleanor down. Lady talks a lot. We had an understudy line-through last night at my place and it was a lot of fun. I'm solid on about 90% of the play, except the last couple scenes and two of the monologues, and even those I can get through with a little prompting. A bit more work and I should be golden.

I'm more worried about the blocking. I see it every day, and I write it down, and I think I know it, but there's a huge difference between watching it and physically doing it and getting the muscle memory and knowing where you have to look to get the motivation to move from one place to another. Luckily there are understudy rehearsals (I think those happen after we open, I don't have the dates) where we go though the whole play with just the understudies and Lori, our lovely stage manager. So I'll get to stand up with the lines a bit, and find out just how much I actually know.

Last night was a relief, though. I know this play really well by now, and I think I know Eleanor pretty well too. Kandis has said I can come ask her any questions I have about character stuff ("I can't promise I'll have an answer, but please ask.") and I think I'd like to do that. I have a few questions about the crazy stuff she does and why, but it's easier to get when you're seeing someone do it and making choices as to why than when you're just reading the play.

I hope I get to go up again, just in rehearsal, even. I'm afraid, yeah. But I think the fear is good, it means you're paying attention.

Friday, July 9, 2010


So, for various reasons I've never had a costume that could be classified as "fabulous" in a show. I tend to be cast as either old, the sassy servant, or a man. All these things have conspired against me so I'm more excited than I think I have any right to be about my La Ronde costume.

I was in the costume shop getting fitted for Lion (long, rough black dress with thick lace-up green surcoat and black shit-kicker boots) and started talking to the assistant who was taking my measurements. Turns out she's doing costumes for La Ronde and is very excited about dressing the Actress.

As a side note: I labeled my script with my name and role, and it looks like something out of Eddie Izzard's stand-up bit with Paul's letters to the Corinthians. He says Paul signed them "Paul, brackets, 'Saint'". My script says "Emily McKeown, brackets, 'Actress'".

Anyway, she said they hadn't pulled any costumes yet, so she didn't know what they had to work with, but she wanted to "build" something specifically for the Actress, with lots of bright colors and rich fabrics and torn fishnets. She showed me some of the fabric's she'd looked at, and may I just say? Fabulousness is imminent.

I love that they "build" costumes, by the way. It makes it sound like such an epic undertaking, which it sounds like this might be.

The intern show has a history of being the ugly, red-headed step-child of Shakespeare Santa Cruz -- especially now that everyone's a little tight on funds. In fact, in our first production meeting Kirsten told us to scout our main-stage productions we're Ensembling in for props and costumes to steal when they're done with them.

"We're actors," she said, "we're the descendants of whores and theives. It's in your blood, just don't tell anybody I told you to keep an eye out You know, be subtle."

I'll do my best, Kirsten. Consider it character research.

Friday, July 2, 2010

One Down...

Monday was everyone's day off. Sorry, I mean

~*~DAY OFF~*~

I hadn't realized until yesterday, but I will have a total of nine days off this summer. I rehearse and have classes from nine AM to around eight PM every day of the week except Mondays, which everyone has to themselves. We went to the beach, and saw some dolphins and went to the local theater dive bar (the Rush Inn, which I misheard the first twelve times as the "Russian" and thought it was some sort of Love's Labor's theme thing) which is pretty divey. I was not a huge fan until I found out they have good beer on tap. Now I am a fan.

I had my costume fitting the other day, which was cool. In the program, we (the interns) are going to be credited as Soldiers and Servants, but in rehearsals we are affectionately referred to as Goons and Matrons. Matrons are wearing big ol' shitkicker boots, with a black shift and long belted tunic thing. Goons get swords. No swords for Matrons.

We did our first stumble-through of Act 1 yesterday, and it's looking really good. This is going to be a great show.

Woah, okay just read through all that again and realized how tired I sound. I ran into Jeff in the hall the other day and we hugged and said hello and he took another look at me and said, "Wow, your brain looks tired." Yes. That. I'm gonna need to start scheduling wind down time if I'm gonna make it through this summer alive.

My brain may also have looked tired because we'd just gotten out of acting. I'm loving Kirsten as a teacher and as a director so far, but one thing's for sure: she's big on the physical work. I am going to be so buff by the end of the summer, it is not even funny. We're doing a lot of viewpoints, biomechanics and Suzuki. I've never really done any of these things before, except for some biomechanics Jeff snuck into movement classes on the sly, but I'm really enjoying it all. Especially the Suzuki.

The way Kirsten breaks it down is that biomechanics is about keeping your muscles engaged and figuring out what your body can do: you jump really high and land without making any sound; you jump onto a partner without hurting them or holding on too tight, it's all very controlled and light. But Suzuki is about being solid and connected through your feet, planted to the earth. It's a brutal work-out, but I really enjoy it.

Okay, I'm gonna take a nap to rest my brain, then it's back to being a Matron. See you on the other side.