Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sculpting Tool #1: Patience

Ah, the process.

I am, by nature, impatient. This charming quality was flat out inherited; it is not by choice. When I need to walk, I walk FAST. When I'm going on a jog, I RUN. I don't take this to an obnoxious extreme, particularly when other people are involved. But it is something that bubbles up: an underlying anxiety to "get there." Where? In this case, to the finished product. To opening night, essentially.

Unfortunately this quality doesn't marry well with the process, which is perhaps what acting is all about. It is ever-evolving. Even after a show opens, it continues to morph and develop. It never really....arrives. Thus, for me, the rehearsal process is a constant mental negotiation. I need to remind myself that what we do on our feet the first day is not a performance. I need to remind myself to step back and make sure I am being open to possible discoveries, possible moments begging to be acknowledged, and thus created. That is what makes rehearsal FUN: it is the place to play and discover and PLAY and have FUN! Have FUN Sarah, have FUN!

It is so odd to use this term for the rehearsal of something like King Lear. But it really does happen. The moment you begin to find something, an inkling of who your character really is, a sense of what an exchange with another character might be, even realizing how your shoes or coat may affect you....it starts to be fun.

Anyway, these have been my thoughts lately in the rehearsal room. Watching Anthony Fusco create his Fool has been particularly inspiring in this regard. Each stab at a scene is done differently; he finds new ways to make use of the stage and scenery. And he's smart and funny. Which makes rehearsal quite entertaining.

Another striking thought while watching rehearsal: the carving-out of a play. (Please bear with me a moment as I digress into a maddening swell of thoughts that even I find exhausting.) Each second of each rehearsal, a possible choice can be made. A move of the head might communicate one thing. The choice to sit, another. There are billions of directions to take a character, a line, a response. And with this specific cast, with our specific director and designers, in this specific moment in time and in this place, we will create OUR King Lear. It could be anything, and yet, through our process we will carve out our very own sculpture to present to you, dear readers. This always fascinates me.

And of course, every good sculpture requires patience. I guess the process is good for some things.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In the beginning...

Hello hello hello dearest Readers! What an incredible first week! I apologize for taking so many days to write; this play has already and totally consumed me. And how wonderful it is to be so consumed. How wonderful to sit for 3 and a half days and pour over one of the most complex texts of the ancient, yet ageless, Shakespeare, and to transgress into lengthy discussions of what one simple word simply...means. And I say this, readers, with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever. Wow, I am a nerd.

I have always been a fan of words, books, reading, writing, even the mere paper upon which one might put words. Yes, it's that bad. As a child, on numerous errands with my mother to grocery stores, banks, Mervyn's, and the like, my favorite stops were at stationary stores. A treat to satiate my impatience with the errands might have been a tablet of paper and a new pen, as opposed to the syrupy goodies that other impertinent pipsqueaks required to go along for the ride. Wow; I am a nerd, AND a liar. I was never above those lowly treats; I am a sugarholic to this day.

To the point! I am so happy to be back at Cal Shakes and to be working on a tremendous play with some old friends, and many new. When Cal Shakes asked me to be a "blogger" on this production of King Lear, I thought of all the blogs I'd read in the past: those of Domenique Lozano (who was my mentor on Nicholas Nickelby in 2005), the hilarious Joan Mankin, who I believe coined the phrase "Dearest Readers," my friend and neighbor Catherine Castellanos, and of course Jimmy Carp. To follow in their stead is an honor, and to connect with you (yes you, I am speaking to you, and ONLY you) prior to your viewing of our production is very exciting to me. And what a production it has promise to be...

First and foremost, let me tell you a bit about our cast: the extremely talented Jeffrey Demunn is playing King Lear, Anthony Fusco is his Fool, Jim Carpenter is the Earl of Gloucester, Andy Murray is Earl of Kent, Delia Macdougall is my eldest sister Goneril, Julie Eccles is my older sister Regan, Andrew Hurteau and L. Peter Callendar play their husbands, respectively, Ravi Kapoor is Edmund, Eric Lochtefeld is his half-brother Edgar...this is but to name a few of a very intelligent cast. Oh, and I will be playing Lear's youngest daughter Cordelia who, I have to say, gets the short end of the stick in this one. Poor Cordelia; she only wants to tell the truth. What she learns, in the first scene anyway, is that the truth gets you nowhere.

This is by no means the lesson of the play. Having only rehearsed (on our feet) the first scene, in which Cordelia is rejected from Lear's paternal care forever for telling the truth, it is fresh in my mind. King Lear is one of those great plays to rehearse, in that every second of its rehearsal is a challenge. We have fun, too, don't get me wrong. We always have fun or I don't think a single one would do what we do. But one must be alert, focused, have one's ears open, ....and heart too. I find that the only way to begin to figure out such a role as Cordelia is to keep my heart open and, simply, let the story in. Here is a young girl who deeply loves her father, perhaps to a fault, and because she refuses to play a game in which he vainly makes his daughters' love for him the subject, Lear kicks her out of the kingdom and the family. To truly understand this, one cannot take an academic approach. I will do all my text work, make sure I make sense of the words, the lines, so that you might better understand me, but when all's said and done, this is a role with high emotional demands. And I will do my best to rise to the occassion. More on this later...

Oh, where are my manners!?

It was nice to finally meet you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This is just a test.