Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I was not wrong

So that was awful. Simply dreadful. Me, the producer, the director, and the stage manager in a 6 by 10 room, all of us watching me flail around trying to find distinct physicality for 6 different characters. One of the problems is a disconnect from my body that manifests itself in a particular stiffness. That's one. The other problem is far more destructive.

Director: OK, let's try it again. I really want to see the difference between this character and the last.

Me (clueless, feeling totally out of ideas, desperately ransacking my brain to think of how people actually move, since I've now apparently become a robot who is propelled around the room by glitchy algorithms that cause him to twitch like a deranged flamingo): Yeah, great. Let's give it a shot.

Voice in my head: You suck. The director is sorry she has to work with you. You have no connection to real people, and you are a bad human being.

(flailing attempt at characterization, all the time fighting to maintain emotional equilibrium)

Director: OK, can you try that again?

Me (panicking now): Sure. Absolutely. Let me just see. (pause to catch my breath internally, draw a complete blank on next gambit. Fuckit, wing it.)

(try again, only bigger, trying to ignore the rising black tide of anxiety)

Voice in my head: You totally suck.

Repeat ad infinitum.

Leaving the rehearsal (after two excruciating hours), I swore I would never act in another show ever again. Jesus. I was wishing I wasn't in this one. I had no business looking at a script, let alone getting on a stage.

As soon as I was done and was by myself for an hour or so, I felt better. Calmer. More like myself again, but still. What a mess. So, I've got homework. To find pictures of possible triggers for the characters, and to find essential "psychological gestures" for each of the 6 characters.

Oh, and to look at old people. All the old people I've ever known walked around like 50 year olds until they suddenly were confined to wheelchairs at the age of 95. I have no idea how old people walk, move, talk. It's like an entire demographic effectively stopped existing for me. Need to rectify that pretty quickly, considering I play an old coot who happens to be the last surviving extra from the movie The Quiet Man.

So, I've got a day to learn how to loosen up, shut up the voices in my head, learn how to walk like an 80 year old man, and get a passable Irish dialect.

Wish me luck!

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