Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fool for Adler

I'm in love.
I'm in love with my studio.
My acting studio.
I tell people about my love.
And they say Hey gimme the information.
And they feign to come.

Finals day yesterday in the Master Class off of theatre row in Hollywierd. There it was, our tiny little black stage, the flooring beaten to death by a myriad of heels - spiked, spurred or period-driven; the thick black strips of marley slowly parting from each other into new continents and the struggling chaperones of tape curling into competition with a wig from "Amadeus".  It is here that my bare feet leave blackened, looking as though I've been parkouring up chimneys all day. (Trust me, I will not miss a good chance to mimic a certain classic Cockney number from Mary Poppins if called upon.) But hey, scenework among my peers at the A/M is not far from watching them draw a chalkboard outline, grab our hand, then jump into a magical (though sometimes terrifying) world, together traipsing suddenly through this sphere of another realm, time and character. Another geographic location. Another socioeconomic period. Another earth.

We work on one 15 (ish) minute scene for six weeks, with three total "rehearsals" not meant to be performance driven. But WE, the students, are allowed to be as driven as we like, for we are driving ourselves. Then we have a bit of critique and talk about obstacles, observations and odds 'n' ends of study. 

As I was discussing with another class member tonight, that carefully strained quality of cold brew acting happening around me is what friggin' wakes ME up in the morning. No, for reals. Nine total scenes went up this round. I am turned into salt and blown away by watching my peers grow - and even astound - via their hard work and blooming creativity. Validation is granted for the weeks of solitary confinement from which we've eventually emerged, battered playbook in one hand, mad scribing in the other. Oh and let's not forget the public shamings we host of our own accord upon that meager platform - the eyes that question all that just proceeded, unconvinced and burning for either death of this work OR... another chance!!! Put me in, Coach, put me IN! AGAIN!  

I mean, that's MY interpretation of how people approach class. I'm sure I am completely wrong and I alone torture myself repeatedly for six weeks in Toluca Woods. ;) But it is difficult to wrap one's head around a real technique of acting, something I have never adopted due to a hodgepodge education (ahem, code for: many teachers that don't know what they're talking about). Adler is what I speak of. The only technique I have ever really enjoyed and find works with my other quirky Eva ways of creation and development. I marry them each semester and indeed there is bickering, fighting, some domestic violence (my neighbors probably think I'm nutso) but there's also Really. Great. Sex.

I have truly, TRULY enjoyed revisiting and settling next to the Sea of Theatre Works. Since September last, I have had the pleasure of swimming inside such plays as CRIMES OF THE HEART (poor Lenny, her hair is fallin' out!), STOP KISS (dude, Callie is a part of my soul and the love story kills me),  PROOF (bring on the cold-hearted shame machine), THE HEIDI CHRONICLES (Wasserstein's themes ring just as poignantly and true today for me as a woman in this world), and most recently, FOOL FOR LOVE by the existential cowboy himself, Sam Shepard.

Sam Shepard is unlike any playwright I have studied thus far, less interested in naturalism than others and a-leanin' toward the affect of the moment - the thing happening now, and how it will translate the emotional states of the characters, usually in matrix-like fashion. The staging is a specific tool used often for this purpose, which is unusual to really pay attention to in class because "blocking" is a somewhat dated term and almost concept. Believe you me, I love a fantastic composition on the stage - as well as on film - but that receives the least focus when in a rehearsal space / learning ground. The acting is the thing and the play is the thing we use to sharpen it with! Anywho, Shepard is SO specific in his stage direction for FOOL that it seemed a bit of an obstacle for my little acting brain to work through. I mean, if I'm supposed to crawl along this wall during this monologue - how do I make that a REAL choice by this character in REAL time? I don't. I do what I can by diluting the stylized feel of his play and filling it with the truthful bugle call of Adler. 

What is this, a fox hunt? Well, yeah. There are a lot of elusive little foxes within a scene you have to discover and conquer, in the form of sly beats, furry objectives and such. And if your Adler beagles are unhealthy pups, they won't sniff out shit. It'll be like people I see on hikes carrying their dogs who doth protest too much against the heat so .. PEACE! - collapsed they are on the mountainside awaiting your removal. 

But FOOL FOR LOVE is, admittedly by Shepard, not his best work - yet a fun piece for women who wish to wallow in a tour de force kind of role - albeit oxymoronically. It is a dark ill-fated incestuous love story that culminates in one long relentless exchange out of a lone mojave desert motel room. The surroundings are bare and so are the personality traits of his characters, Eddie and May. Little is said ABOUT them outside of what they've "experienced". There are memories and speeches, but there aren't a lot of statements about who these people ARE outside of vague things like "She likes movies." His writing rather focuses on the communication - in body and word - thus the relationship is identified more strongly than the individual. Also, the feeling is what Shepard is striving to capture, not the personality. 

Thus it was a kind of a bitch to work on. I mean, May is the victim of cyclical infidelity for a number of years with the love of her life, her half-brother. Unfortunately, they fell in love before they knew of their blood share, found out quickly thereafter, and then it was just too late. The love had fallen on them both like a sickness, complete with paralytic yearnings and pinings that left them on the floor when apart and worried all those around them. But the infidelity...four years of an affair with another woman - a woman who seemingly has money, education, EVERYTHING the upper class could provide and May does not represent. Four years of denial from Eddie; four years of secrecy, of anxiety, of waiting in a trailer alone, of time passing in stagnant hours, of questions, of diminishment of worth, of being mortared and pestled into a mash of self-hatred and blame despite it not being her fault - all of this cradled in the hammock of desperate co-dependency. 

Oy. Vay. Dude.

All I can surmise about May comes from how she feels and also how she is different from this "other woman".  The latter is a more guesswork arena to the Adler approach, but hey, I gots little to go from. I will say this, though: this scene kicked my motherlovin' ass. And I have Shepard to thank for it. May ended up as switchy and twitchy as an epileptic fencer. Child-like in her emotional intelligence because there was no room within or model from which to develop it. Probably bi-polar, but I didn't choose to study it. 

Sadly, I will not be within the next two rounds of Master Class (that's 3 months that will sadly go by - one quarter of a year!!!!!!!!!!!! I may be in a coma at that time). But hopefully, I will be filming GEHENNA come October and acting in front of a camera, not my peers. And on a tropical island. Hells to the yizzah. 

In the meantime, I will be working on shorter scenes in Monday night's excellent Hybrid class. So the pencils will get sharpened little by little still.  I have RED LIGHT WINTER and OTHER DESERT CITIES to tackle.  I am determined to discipline myself within Adler and to apply it one day with just the tools of my imagination. Some of them come into play more naturally already - almost archeologically, as the bones of my colorful mind emerge and shake off their dust, then proceed to do a Disneyesque dance that seems all wild, dark and hilarious. 

Enough! Off to rehearsal...Let a little 39 into your life.

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