Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?

So, this last weekend I went to Florida for an audition at Mad Cow Theatre in Orlando. It was an enjoyable trip, but I do sorta get the vibe that the folks in the audition were sorta like, " live in Decatur, GA. Are you planning on moving down here? No? Ok, you can go ahead and do your monologues, since you drove all this way." Now, I could be completely wrong, and maybe they'll want me for The Lion in Winter or Mackers or something, but, as with all auditions, I'm not holding my breath.

The main reason I'm doing a post about it, though, is because I saw a play when I was in Orlando that I have...mixed feelings about. The show was Reservoir Dogs, as produced by Greater Orlando Actors Theatre. Full disclosure...I didn't know anyone in this show, but the person I went with knew Mr. Blonde and Mr. Brown. Also, full disclosure, the first thing I thought of when she mentioned this to me was the section in "Waiting for Guffman" where they talk about staging "Backdraft." There were a lot of people who really enjoyed it, I think. I'm sure you can find some really solid reviews online. This isn't so much a review of the play itself, but...

Now, on a sheer performance level, the show had highlights and lowlights. It was neither good enough to praise, nor bad enough to enjoyably eviscerate, so why am I commenting on it? Because, to my mind, it committed a cardinal sin of theatre. It was completely and utterly pointless. Everyone in that room has seen that movie. The group of actors that performed it for us would have been well served in another show where they wouldn't have had to do impressions of other actors. Not everyone did this, (Steve Hurst as Mr. Blonde was pretty solid, to my mind.) but there were some performances that were ripped right out of the film. No naming names, but they were pretty significant parts...

I just don't see the reasoning behind it. I mean, you have to strive to bring in a different demographic to stay relevant. I get that. But, if you ARE going to do Reservoir Dogs, don't be so dogmatic to the script. There are tricks that movies can get away with that theatre can't, and vice versa. So, for all of Mr. Orange's speech where he's telling the story about the drug bust that almost was, don't take it to a full blackout between parts of his story. Part of the joy is watching him grow in one, seamless stream. Also, just an idea, DO NOT USE FOOTAGE FROM THE MOVIE UNLESS YOUR GOAL IS TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH! I really can't stress that enough. I'm more than happy to watch a stage version of Reservoir Dogs, but give me something different... Give me a reason to come out to your theatre and watch it, as opposed to popping in the DVD. Cut it down, streamline it, make the audience a part of it, and I don't mean by spattering blood on them, pull every trick you've got in your bag to remind the people who are paying ticket price that this ISN'T a movie.

Don't just bark. Have a little bite.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Too much for a tweet, too little for a real post...let's just call it what it is...

This is me emptying my brain, which I haven't been able to do in quite some time. I STILL won't be able to do it to it's fullest extent, because this is a public forum. There's more, but, chances are, if I felt like talking about it to you, I've probably already talked to you about it. But, you never know. Ask me what's going on in my life once or twice and I may eventually give you an answer.

There's a Bible verse that has ran through my mind a lot recently. Romans 8:28. It's enough to keep going sometimes.

Because I've had a lot going on in the last few months. A lot to persevere through. Not only in the theatre world, but just in life. And it's been rough, I'm not going to lie.

And I look at the future...specifically, the next five months where there are, to my knowledge, four plays going on in the Atlanta area that I could be in. Four. That's it. All at places I've never worked before. All at places I'm desperate to get in to. I have an audition for one, and I'm doing work (tm Kobe) trying to get as prepared as possible for it, but I can only impress people if I can get into the room... Which is what I'm working on for those other three.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned. If I don't get into one of these, we're looking at at least an eight month stretch without theatre work. Intimidating? Yes. Intimidated? No. Won't allow it.

I need a vacation. I'm going to Florida four times in the next few months. Two for auditions (Looks like I spoke too soon about that whole, "Done driving to far off auditions," thing, eh?) and two for plans I previously had. Those will be good for me.

Then, planning. Taking a good, hard look at this next year, finding out where the fat is, and cutting it. Adding more out of town auditions, and truly considering them. Going to Washington DC's generals. Going to Cincinnati's generals. I may not be as good as you, but I will out-hustle you any day of the week.

And there's the personal life, where sometimes, I just need to slow it down, sit in the dark, watch the rain and listen to Royksopp. Let the bass thump in my chest and breathe in the night air. And there's nothing wrong with having a moment of recalibration. I've just had a bit too many in the last few months.

So, here it final moment of recalibration for a bit. I'm going to take a deep breath, close my eyes and step out there.

I want to know that, in life, I'm working for His purpose. Sometimes, it's quiet on that front. But that's the joy of it, you know? Knowing that I'm taken care of, even if I see no tangible proof of it. That's what faith is all about.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Does talent come with a mandate to aspire to greatness?

I posted this on my Twitter not long ago, but it's a question that I am truly curious about and would love to hear opinions on.

This is a question that initially occured to me in the context of Rasheed Wallace signing with the Celtics. Or, rather, it didn't occur to me. It occured to Joey over at FreeDarko in this article. You won't mind if I quote for context, will you?

"We already know that history is likely to speak ill of Roscoe. It will harp upon his volatility. It will almost jeer as it calls him an underachiever. And it surely will subsume his contribution to Detroit's recent championship, bundling it with "however" and "if only" while emphasizing the technicals and the meltdowns. Rasheed will go out as grousing, mercurial, unreliable. His enormous talents will only damn him, as the critics, whose voices appear to ring loudest, cite his gifts as evidence of the disappointment he's authored.

Our sports culture so thoroughly disdains "wasting" talent that Rasheed Wallace's career is almost wholly anathema. (...) Rasheed bears some blame, of course. His flare-ups have been counterproductive, and shameful moments like Game 6 against Cleveland three seasons ago strike at whatever sympathy his personality, history, and style encourage. Be moody. Reject that talent carries with it a mandate to aspire for greatness. But don't flout obligations, or punk out in such explosive, consuming fashion."

So, the question is...does it? This doesn't just go for sports. It can easily be transposed to anything, but our discussing will naturally lean toward acting.

If one is talented, what is it to "waste" those talents? And why does it gall us so to see it?

I don't expect much discussion, but I do think it's a topic that warrants it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009 a pupa.

Have we ever talked about what I want to do with my life?

You know who I think has the perfect job? Laura Cole. The idea of working with a group of dedicated young professionals is something that's been appealing to me since my apprenticeship at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. I saw what those folks did to me, and what they did to others. I saw how working with Christina Vaccaro and Brian B. Crowe (I think he might be surprised at how much he effected me...) changed my perspective, and opened my eyes. All I could think of was how I wanted some of that.

I find that actors are always talking about wanting to change people's lives on a grand scale. That's a pretty sweeping declaration. Regimes fall and rise, seasons change, entirely based on their performance in something. I'm not going to lie and say it wouldn't be nice to have that kind of adulation, but it isn't what I want, really. I want to work on a small level. I want to change lives, but just one or two people is fine with me. I want to rearrange horizons and see successes and be a part of crafting a well rounded actor. Two of my proudest moments in theatre didn't happen in typical settings, but they did both involve Juliet. I don't know if I'll have time to get into the second one (Casey Northcutt, I love you...), but I'll at least be able to talk about Ashley Boehne.

While in college, we did a 24 hour play festival. I didn't really want to do anything too ambitious, but I did think it would be interested to see technicians acting. I've always been a big believer that technicians ought to act, if actors are expected to do tech work as part of a graduation curriculum. There's no reason I should be expected to take lighting design (which I will never use...believe me. I respect the art and have no facility at it...), if a technician isn't expected to take Acting in Shakespeare.

Anyhow, I got together three techies of varying acting experience and tossed up "Technicians Do Shakespeare" where I would have them each doing a monologue from Shakespeare. Pretty self explanatory, huh? Sarina Richardson, who had the most experience, picked her own monologue, but I recall clearly that Nathan Daly did Hal's "Do not think so you shall not find it so" and Ashley Boehne did "Gallop apace". I worked a bit with Nathan, but spent most of my time with Boehne, who had never acted before.

When it finally came time for her to perform, with less than 24 hours preparation, she was incredibly nervous. But as she sat in the midst of all those pillows laid on a bare stage, she settled into it, giving over to her nervousness. The moment I will always remember was a the "Come, night. Come Romeo." She took such a brief pause and everyone in the audience (EVERYONE!) leaned in slightly, their mouths open. They wanted more of what she had. To this day, one of the most true and beautiful pieces of acting I've ever seen.

So...THAT is why I want to work with actors. I want others to fly, so that I can feel like I had some small part of it.