Friday, January 28, 2011
A Very Special Show
This show is all kinds of amazing!
I have never experienced a rehearsal process quite like this one, in all my years in community theater. Rehearsals have run later than is usual for Sam Bass, which has led to exhaustion. Somehow, five hours of sleep a night has come to be the norm...if I manage to squeeze out six, I feel rested! Eight would be untold luxury.
I have been angry, occasionally. I am used to people accepting my costuming skills for what they are. Though I work for a professional costumer, I still do my amateur work the same way I always have. With this show, it consisted of rounding up as much 80s stuff as I could, and asking the actors to bring in anything they might have, and picking, choosing and coordinating. I built smocks, with help from Vanessa. I have had to assert myself and be insistent about certain elements, and compromise on others.
I felt humiliated by my ancient bugaboo...memorization. I am always one of the last actors to be off book, no matter the show. It takes me a long time to get all my lines filed and categorized in my mind. There are quite a few new people in this play, who didn't know that, and they were a bit concerned (or so I heard). I got to feeling like the "weak link." At one point, I decided that this would be my last adventure in acting. I hate the thought of being the one (and there is always at least one, in any cast) about whom everyone else worries.
Which brings me to another factor. Emotion. Every time we rehearsed Act II, even the very early blocking rehearsals, we were in tears. I haven't actually cried so much, and so regularly, since Jim's death. I don't usually concern myself overmuch with analyzing the meaning of a play, or the subtext...for me, it has always been all about the story. It is, after all, right there in the script. I think that, if I can just learn the words, and say the words, the playwright's story comes to life. I bring to each character what I can in furtherance of that end. I am used to tapping into my own feelings...I think everyone who gets on a stage does that. However, in this play, it's more a question of controlling those feelings. You see, Dearly Beloved, Ronni is an easy cry. I cry during Hallmark commercials and PSAs for the alleviation of animal cruelty. Don't even ask me to watch "Old Yeller" or "The Yearling!" This time, however, I am playing a character who cried herself out years ago. One of the changes that comes over Ouiser during the show is that she learns to open herself up to life's possibilities...and so she learns to cry all over again. This is so much the opposite of me. When the director (half joking) (I hope) told me I was Ouiser, I wasn't sure how I felt about that. The phrase, "not much of a stretch" was used. By me, actually. It turned out to be a hell of a stretch!
So, anyway, we open tonight, officially. We actually opened last night, as we had over half a houseful of invited audience. Thanks so much for coming out to see us! There is an opportunity for a further 700 of you to do so, and I hope you do!
It would be a dream come true to fill every seat for every performance! Go to www.sambasstheatre.org for reservations.