Friday, December 19, 2008
Getting in The Groove
Our second week of performances came and went with great energy both on the stage and in the house. The buzz of opening night has died down, but positive reviews keep trickling in (including a certain Seattle Weekly blog post that my family cannot stop talking about.) It feels like we're settling into a place where the excitement of performing this story feels normal.
However, we're already half-way through the run of our show. In total, we have 31 performances (I think), and tonight's show will be number 17. I enjoy longer runs: my second show at The 5th Avenue was a show that toured into elementary schools around Washington and Oregon, and that run lasted four months. With shows at 9:00 AM. In Ashford, WA. If you even know where that is. And I liked it.
So, although we're only two weeks into our run, we're finding our groove. Now that I'm not trying to remember the changes we made during tech, or where my next costume change is, or how I can sneak a drink of water before my next entrance, I have enough energy to do what I love during a long run: explore my character's involvement with other characters onstage.
Now, when a director opens a show, he or she typically "freezes" the staging. Which means, their watchful and discerning eye has created the best show possible with the actors involved in this production. And it's our job as actors to maintain that high quality of work throughout every performance.
But it is also generally understood that the more time an actor spends in scenework with his fellow performers, the more truth he is able to derive from each onstage moment. This is a combination of 1.) feeling comfortable in my character's skin, and 2.) knowing the show enough to be truly present onstage, allow for some new moments to occur between me and my fellow actors.
As I wrote before, Luke Longacre and I used rehearsals and tech to create a lot of specific non-verbal communication through our opening scenes. For example, when I admit to Milly that "I've thought about being with a girl of my own," most of the other brothers laugh at me. But I give him a silent plea that helps motivate his next line, an admission that "we don't know how to talk to girls."
This week, Luke and I have found a few more moments that cement the relationships and motivations of our characters. When we enter the harvest social, we have a whole new section of quiet dialogue about meeting the girls, motivating my attempt to procure a pie in order to meet Alice, my future bride. And in "Where Were You," Luke silently pleads for me to stay and convince Adam not to leave. And I return with a silent shaking of my head as I exit.
All of us Pontipees have found these new moments of motivation. When Karl Warden and I stare each other down before my first solo in "We Got To Make It Through The Winter," it clearly motivates my choreography. And as we enter the harvest social, Wes Hart and I have a thorough discussion about what not to do in front of ladies: no cussin', no fightin', no nudity. (It's funny if you've seen the show...)
These interactions were all created organically, but have quickly become vital to my performance. These moments are (hopefully) so small, that they don't distract from the dialogue, but they do enhance the plot, and our investment in the story we share each night.