Monday, May 9, 2011

Thor and Hamlet

Saw Thor this weekend! Very fun. Went in with lowish expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The cast was fun, the visuals were all gorgeous, the writing was engaging and overall I had a very nice time. Though Kenneth Branagh could never be called subtle, I think he was a good fit for director. He certainly thought so. The end-of-movie credits roll and first up on the screen is DIRECTED BY KENNETH BRANAGH. Credits continue, the music crescendos and the last screen is filled by A FILM BY KENNETH BRANAGH!!!

The exclamation points weren't really there. I added them for effect. Oh, Kenneth Bragmoi. Your self-satisfied silliness knows no bounds.

I wasn't overly impressed with Natalie Portman but that could just be because I feel like every time I turn a corner or walk into a theater or wake up in the morning her face is hovering somewhere in front of me. Note to Hollywood: just because someone is the latest hot actress does not mean you have to plug her into EVERY SINGLE BLOCKBUSTER YOU CAN. Sincerely, several disaffected youths.

Thus endeth the nerdy section of this post.

KIDDING! That's all this blog is.

Hamlet is coming along as well. We start tech this Friday (agnflakehlfakshekaj) and we have a run tomorrow that I'm looking forward to. People are really starting to maintain focus, which is nice. There's been some behind-the-scenes whispers of irritation and general malcontent, mainly aimed at Irwin.

Hmm, it's been awhile since I've given details on what's been happening so let's see if I can't do a quick run-down of the behind-the-scenes stuff.

First off: Irwin's process isn't very good early on. He isn't very good at letting actors just play around to find the blocking, so he painstakingly crafts every moment himself and we often spend much more time than necessary blocking and reblocking scenes as a result because he is also not very good at making a clear stage picture. This leads to lots of unfocused, unmotivated actors who are more concerned with getting through rehearsal than communicating the story or finding interesting things to play.

There's also been a lot of pushing back from some individuals in the cast about direction they are given, to the point where they say "no" before even trying it. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. As far as I'm concerned, you are not allowed to say no until you've tried it and then you can say whether or not you like it.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks.

But all that seems to be more or less behind us by now (thank God) because the play is blocked! So Irwin can't get all twitchy about how the hell we're going to get the wine glass out of Gertrude's hand before Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter.

And since Irwin knows more solidly what he's doing with that, he can focus on his real strength as a director: acting coach. He's great with the working out individuals and how they can play something better or stronger than they are, and with the way characters relate to each other. And since Irwin is in a better head space, suddenly the actors are more focused and putting actual effort in.

This may also be because we are about to go into tech and everyone has suddenly realized that their bitching about Irwin will not save them from looking stupid on opening night. Bless.

But really, it's going well. The run tomorrow will be very helpful to see what it is, exactly, that we've got.

Monday, May 2, 2011

This Post Brought to You by Funnel Cake

Sorry for the hiatus. I got a little overwhelmed and then I got sick. To the point where I dragged my achey body up to rehearsal and Irwin went, "Whoa. Um. You okay?". But I soldiered on! And got better just in time, too, because the SANTA BARBARA FAIR was this weekend. Full of animals and fried food on sticks and carnival rides and did I mention the animals?


Seriously, too cute to be believed.

And then for the championship round (our section was rooting for Sloppy Joe) they brought out a little something extra.

Hurdles! Little piggy hurdles! Of course they kinda became useless when one of the pigs just plowed their way straight through it. But still! Little leaping pigs! It was very cute, and conveniently placed right next to the llamas section.

Other highlights were the swings (flying carousel, basically) and the Starship 3000, which only I had been on before, and none of the people with me (Jak, Kelsey and Garret). It's this big fat metal cylinder with standing up seats and everyone leans against a section of the wall and the tube spins and spins and the floor drops away but the centrifugal force presses you against the wall so you don't fall.

The best part of that ride is watching all the tiny children crawl upside down and over their parents' heads while all the adults can't lift their arms from the wall.

The Zipper was less fun, but it's Garret's favorite ride so I decided to give it a shot.

Never again. It whipped my head back so hard my hair clip shattered against the seat. Kelsey and I wobbled over to sit down, waiting for our brains to unstick from the front of our skulls while Jak and Garret ran over to Foot Loose (the pirate ship thing).

The fair was beginning to close down, and Jak wanted to hit the funnel cake stand on the way out, so we decided to round out the night with the ferris wheel.

Not pictured is the freeway, over the other side of the car.

Oh, Santa Barbara Fair. I will not see you next year (or I might, this was alumni weekend as well, coincidentally, and that could happen again) but you have filled me with so much joy I don't really mind. What a lovely day.

EDIT: just in case you find yourself without anything to do (and my goodness, it's only Monday, get a life) other than watching excessive amounts of The Office, Terry Jones' Medieval Lives kept me thoroughly entertained in my bedridden sick days. What could be better than listening to a former Python talk about how peasants weren't actually a bunch of stupid smelly glorified slaves? Not much, I say.