Monday, April 15, 2013

Dirty Socks and Dirty Martinis

I was working on a scene today. One I am rather familiar with at this point - meaning lines memorized for weeks, lines misinterpreted for weeks also, and intentions and ownings unclear. Too often I am watching myself, listening to myself, judging myself, critisizing myself - all while speaking these g*()#@!m lines. Yes, it's been a  problem for a long time.   Yes, I get better when I go deeper.   Yes, I'm tired of talking about it (at least in life, not on this blog). 

So I decided I was forgetting a lot of things. I instead began rehearsing aloud the two pages prior to where my scene started. It spoke volumes more of where my character, Elizabeth, REALLY was. She has a lot on her mind but her best friend is talking her ear off because she just wants to escape from her family and get drunk on the porch while they fold laundry and enjoy a Texas sunset. That's more routine than anything, but today Elizabeth is not quite as cheery or chatty, there's something amiss, but not totally obvious. My interpretation of this darkened mood was coming from where the characters immediately and literally WERE, meaning disconnected from the prior part of the play. I looked at the circumstances surrounding them, but what other moments (and I mean MOMENTS, true pieces of the present) brought these women here and now. And the feeling is so FINE in the beginning of the scene that only a true, life long bestie would be able to tell that something is wrong today outside of other days.

James McClure, author of Laundry and Bourbon, has given his actors a thousand brilliant tells about the relationships in this play. They may be two simple Texas gals, but they've known each other nearly their whole lives.  They were friends during their first kisses, their first periods, their first times. Honestly, this one-act is like a homemade chocolate cake that's been sittin' out on the picnic table just long enough - the layers are rich and oh-so-satisfying to dig your fork into and then, to taste.  That's the part I'm getting at today: the taste. 

You can think about how something tastes if you've had it beore - you have to. But eventually you get to a point where you must actually taste it but in your mind.  You are LIVING in that moment therefore you are tasting it before our very eyes. You are not thinking about what you are doing, you are not watching it or listening to it - you are experiencing it, full-fledged and thick-blooded.  Do you know how important the imagination is to an actor?  I hate to continue stating obvious things here but what most people don't understand about Los Angeles is that many actors go through the motions of the lifestyle / career and NEVER really engage in the moment or even know what that means. I BARELY know what it means, but I'm on the brink of it again. As a kid, I had the craziest imagination and could entertain myself on a stump in the woods for hours pretending this and pretending that. So I used to have a clue.  Actually - just read my next blog: Children Have All the Answers.

Anyway, I am suddenly going through this scene line by line, asking a thousand questions about if I was the one experiencing these things, what would I do? How would I feel about it?  What kind of reaction would I actually have if I saw a gorgeous, heaping cloud and it reminded me of God and the Universe and LIFE - and people giving life?  And I know I am pregnant in this moment and my husband hasn't been home in two days? It's all too much. Then how can I expect my friend to understand anything is wrong if I don't speak up? Why am I hiding it from her? Because she is judgemental about me and my life, she is envious and puts me down in these soft quick ways. But I love her and I don't have anyone else to talk to about it - and unlike that cloud, my face is about to burst into a rainstorm but I have to hold SOMETHING together so that my friend doesn't gloat in the needed nature of that moment.  I need comfort.  And I know she loves me.  I give her the benefit of the doubt because that is what I do and for many years we've gone through a number of important moments - persevering just fine.

That covers about half a page in a four and half page scene. So I'm sitting there going line by line and just thinking - wow, I'm making these lines really BIG, meaning like "dramatic", but then I'm really - no really! - feeling some of them.  And I remember that I feel things in a big way - meaning me, Eva Swan. I just forget that I am capable of it because I have a tendency to go invisible (51% introvert, 49% extrovert) and make my own experiences small while in public so as not to disturb or distract (See my next blog: The Neverending High School).  So I ingest! But with acting - it is my JOB to react and to show those reactions with as much detail and commitment as possible!  Can you imagine really - no I mean really! - living life that way? Oh please, you might think "I do! I strive for that every day!" but come on, be honest - think about it. You have self consciousness a thousand times a day for whatever things, maybe even the same thing. And things - namely people - stop you from fully realizing all of the potential of those moments. You might be closer than I am to living life so freely, but I see the nerves on peoples faces or the dark thoughts that loom and keep their personalities prisoner.

Sidebar - you also know you've seen that person who lives closer than anyone else to a free life and they just GLOW.  That is not not a rare thing. 

The point of this blog, I suppose, it just to say I've tapped into the maple tree. I've attached a spigot.  Now I am slowly turning the handle and extracting. I hope to do that onstage one day here in LA. And also Broadway. But that is down the road. For now, g'night and Happy Taxes. Don't forget to file for an extension at least!

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