Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2011

Tonight, we put the show on its feet.

New York City: Year 2, Day 173

Tonight, I felt incredibly lost. We ran the show from start to finish for the designers and the only reason I cried in the moments I was supposed to was because I was apologizing to them in my head– “I’m sorry you have to watch me right now. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m sorry.”

Sometimes I feel like I have no business setting foot onstage.

Period of the dark cloud– what did I say?

Two things make this alright.

One: This afternoon, my Scene Study professor handed us copies of a beautiful speech that Robert Prosky made in 1998.

He said, “I was being interviewed and was asked what it was like to be an actor for so long a time. My answer was that on the first day of rehearsal faced with a new script, a bare stage, and the whole panoply of theater surrounding me, the thought would occur that “I don’t know how to do this; I don’t even know where to start.” But, start we would and in the rehearsal process of four or five weeks, I would add a little bit of this or that, a note from the director, a look from another actor, an idea from the subtext, etc. and then the play would open to some success or even failure, but at least I’d gotten thru it. Then the thought would occur, “Aha, I’ve fooled them again! They haven’t found out yet that I don’t know how to do this.” Rex Harrison once said, “I have now gotten to the age when i must prove that I’m just as good as I never was.”

The speech continues, “It has been said that an actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros, the courage and audacity of a lion and most importantly, the fragile vulnerability of an egg. It has also been said and I’m not sure by whom, that the moment of not knowing is the moment that has the greatest potential for creativity. The professional and private lives of most actors are filled to the brim with moments of not knowing.

Actors get recognized all the time in the street or in the supermarket, but sometimes the people who recognize us don’t know why they do. They think we’re a long lost cousin or we sold a used car to them once in Minneapolis. We satisfy their curiosity by saying, “I am an actor,” but I think all actors have some doubt about that statement. We’re not really sure that we are actors, but we are sure that we are lifelong residents in the house of not knowing.”

Reason number two everything is ok: I came home tonight from a 17-hour day, my evening spent in Chekhovian Russia where my fiance was killed, where I never made it to Moscow. I was tired, a little sad, a little frustrated with myself. But there was a letter waiting for me from my dearest friend, Katie The Trooper, who is enduring her own Second Year MFA Acting experience at the University of Iowa. Inside the sealed envelope were temporary tattoos promoting her latest show, a picture of her crazy cat that used to curl up on my stomach in the lifetimes ago that we were near each other, a postcard with a picture of a small French child running down a street, and a letter of encouragement and assurance that she’d join me in New York soon and we’d continue doing the work we love. She wrote, “You need these things.” And I did.

Katie will be here soon. We’ll keep paying rent in the House of Not Knowing together. This thought makes me happy.

Casey is always telling us that where our fear is– that’s where our truth lies. I was scared tonight, but I’m ready to keep working, I’m thrilled that there is work that is frightening me, and I’m eager to find what the truth is.

Read Full Post »

I spend my days in New York. I spend my evenings in Russia.

New York City: Year 2, Day 172

This week marks the third week of rehearsal for Branches: The Chekhov Project. Though I’ve spent a good deal of time in Three Sisters land, it’s been beautiful to watch the worlds start to merge. I’ve grown to love Irina dearly, but it’s also impossible for me to hear Nina call herself “the seagull” without lines from my own show echoing in my head– kind, old soldiers calling Irina a little while bird, Irina speaking of her impending marriage and saying “Suddenly now, it’s as if I had wings.” There are startling parallels, lovely images.

We’ve entered the period of the dark cloud during which many of us can’t remember our own names much less remember how to act (or so it feels). It’s an exciting time, though– a time of discovery. I love the rehearsal hall. We’ll move up to the theatre next week. I’ll miss the rehearsal shoes laced on over socks with ridiculous patterns, the safety pins being tucked into rehearsal skirts. I love the period vests worn over Packers t-shirts and the pockets watches safely placed in well-worn jeans. I’ll miss the early fumblings with scripts in-hand and the moments we all stood around the piano learning Russian folk songs. There’s such excitement in the move to the theatre, yes, but there’s something tatty and breathtaking about the early life of a play. I believe that. There’s magic in the tattiness of the theatre.

It is still winter in New York City. I love it here, though my snowy walks are usually filled with images of whatever my Moscow happens to be that day. Lindsey’s Moscow Variations has been on loop in my brain since I began preparing to play Irina. Today we rehearsed Act 1. This is a good thing. In Act 1, I still believe in Moscow. In Act 1, I’m still going to meet and marry the man I dream of. In Act 1, nobody’s hurt.

I think perhaps the most rewarding thing about this project so far has been watching these amazing characters come to life in the form of my dear friends. I get to go to rehearsal every night and see Daliya’s Sonya, Jessica’s Nina, Jacob’s Vanya, Siri’s Olga, Jeff’s Tuzenbach, Andreas’ Constantine. It’s a cast filled with people I love, characters I love.

Folks, brush up your Chekhov. Come see this.

I hope this puts you in the mood:

(P.S. Because it makes me feel less alone, I want to mention that someone found my blog yesterday by Google-searching “MFA Acting, no sleep”. That is a true story if I have ever heard one. It is 1AM. On that note, I’m off to transcribe a monologue into a Southern Irish dialect, work on a scene from Suddenly, Last Summer and listen to my landlord yell at his dogs. Goodnight.)

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.