Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Death Becomes Me

Pretty much the world's laziest blogger. Chalk it up to the holidays and then back-to-back productions (performing then producing), plus the usual nonstop craziness of parenting, teaching, and living. I'm always amazed by those dutiful mommy bloggers (moggers?) who somehow manage to write these thoughtful, witty, provocative posts EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They must have the world's best-behaved kiddoes, or an unlimited supply of 5 Hour Energy, or superhuman multi-tasking skills. If I pump out a few entries a year, I feel like a champ.
So I just finished up my yearly venture onstage. I've decided that no matter how tempting the play or juicy the role, one show a year scratches the acting itch just fine, thank you. I get to exercise my chops a bit, learn something new, meet some cool peeps, and then it's back to once-a-week yoga or night out with girlfriends for "me" time. It is a very delicate balance between being a bitter mommy, a present mommy, a mommy with healthy interests, and neglectful mommy. NR is super supportive and encourages my theater jaunts, but as much as I love it...I love being around for bedtime, too!
I firmly believe that continuing to hobbies/friends/interests models many important lessons for your kids (commitment, loyalty, pursuing passions, etc.), but it can be easy to get TOO caught up in that as well.
Anywho, this particular theatrical endeavor was one of the most challenging I've ever encountered. I played "Woman in Aviatrix Outfit" in Arthur Kopit's "Chamber Music." It's an absurdist play from the 60's set in a mental institution. All of the women believe they are someone famous--Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, etc.--except that it becomes clear throughout the play that my character may actually BE Amelia Earhart.
So, the challenges:
1) The Dialogue. When I talk about memorization with my acting students, I always urge them to memorize the story first, and then let the words fall into place. Yet there was no clear spine to this play--just a bunch of crazy chicks yelling at each other. So instead, I tried to memorize the "movements" (as in music). There were crescendoes and climaxes, fermatas and rests. This was also helpful since there was very little blocking (we were seated for most of the show), so I couldn't even use physicality to attach to the lines.
2) Lack of Connection. My character was the outcast of the play, so I had no "partner" to connect with onstage. Lonely for an actor, but valuable for the character. The actresses offstage, however, were fantastic...not a diva in the bunch.
3) A Wig. I haven't worn a wig in a play since I was 19, and forgot how much I HATE them. You just can't touch your head the way you normally would, which limits your movements, but you also kind of want to fuss with it because it's so foreign, which then brings attention to the fact that it's "A WIG." Kind of like when Wendy Williams or Kathy Griffin start petting their weaves. Plus, wigs are itchy and sometimes painful. However, it was so completely different from my own hair that I got a kick out of it.
4) Dying (again). The last play I did, I was murdered in the final seconds of the play. My throat was slit, but I was already on a bed and managed to die face down. For this play, I was strangled by a mob, had to collapse face up onstage, lie there for about 10 minutes, then be picked up and placed in a chair for the final moments. The whole sequence was carefully choreographed, and we ran a fight call every night before the show. Still, it was nerve-wracking. Thank God for practicing yoga and "corpse pose"--my heart was pounding and my breath was ragged during the murder, and I had to quickly slow it down for the actual death. One night my shirt was yanked up during the murder, and I was convinced that I was flashing the audience...but what was I going to do? Come back to life for one second of modesty to rearrange myself? And during final dress, that damn wig slipped above my forehead, exposing my very non-Amelia brown curls. =0
Needless to say, my kiddies were not able to come see this show. As much as they "get" make-believe, they just didn't need to see Mommy Gets Murdered. We were trying to explain to TJ one night why he couldn't come, so NR told him that "some of the ladies in the play say bad words." TJ's eyes grew big, and he asked, "Do they say the 'b' word?" Shocked, I inquired what he thought that was. He tiptoed around the dinner table and whispered in my ear, "Butt?"
Here's hoping that's the WORST thing he'll hear in the next show I do. :)