! ! !
Kevin learns, or perhaps fails to learn some important lessons in the COMPLETELY EFFING CRAZY world of live theatre.
PLAY PRODUCTION FOLLIES (Pt. 1: Student Productions)
> MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE TROJAN WOMEN
. After the gruesome ordeal of Attendant #2 in LADY PRECIOUS STREAM, I was singularly unenthusiastic to find myself cast in a student production of the classic Greek drama THE TROJAN WOMEN as Soldier #2. Great. I had really risen in the ranks. Once again, my main function was to stand around with a spear and look menacing. So what a surprise to discover that Soldier #2 was, without a doubt, the most challenging role I had yet undertaken!
. It sounds like I’m being facetious but I am completely in earnest. I discovered that standing idly by, watching as horrible atrocities from Greek mythology are recreated right before your eyes, when you have barely a line to speak, is quite a difficult undertaking. I had never realized what crutches words could be for the actor. Lines are clear signposts to the inner workings of the character. Without the luxury of spoken responses, it was a daunting challenge to react realistically. And as my first acting coach taught me: “acting is reacting.” I had to work to put myself in a place where it was as though I was hearing each line for the first time and learning to get out of my own way, so my reactions were authentic and not canned.
. For the first time, I began to really understand the maxim I had so resisted, that “there are no small parts, only small actors”. Fortunately, I did have one line to speak- ironically, as the only lighthearted moment in the entire tragedy, it was just about the best line in the play! As regal Helen of Troy makes an exit, Soldier #1 and Soldier #2 have a quiet moment to themselves. Lasciviously watching the bewitching femme fatale prowl away, oozing sensuality, the laymen compare notes. I got the only laugh of the play, (a surprisingly big one!) when I delivered the line:
. “Well, I’m just a poor man, but I’d not go to bed with her!”
> A RETURN TO OUR TOWN
. It was a curiosity in my career, how often I ended up returning to material I had previously tackled. After having already played the Stage Manager in OUR TOWN at Lanark Park, I was now cast as kindly Doc Gibbs in a student production at Canoga. It wasn’t much. I was too young to understand the part or the play on any deep level, lacking the perspective of maturity. Posing as a country doctor, I just puffed my prop pipe and tried to look fatherly. It’s safe to say, I was not very good in the part…
. But there was one amusing story that came from this production that still makes me laugh when I fire those neurons of memory. Senior Scott Tidstrand was cast as hometown heroine father. Scott was a confident actor, able to hold the stage with ease and authority. There is a scene where the actress playing his wife asks him if he’d remembered to get their daughter Emily something for her birthday. Because the prop gift had yet to be made, Scott mimed it throughout rehearsals, holding up the imaginary present as he spoke the line. But come our final dress rehearsal, (which notably was also our first “preview” performance in front of an invited audience), as they came to that part of the play, Scott realized, that making that gift-wrapped package was a task that had somehow fallen through the cracks. So again, Scott improvised, simply pretending the present was something small enough to fit into his pocket.
. When asked if he remembered Emily’s birthday gift, Scott smiled and proclaimed “Oh yes!” Then, patting his front pants pocket confidently, he added: “I’ve got something for her right here.”
. After a stunned silence, the entire house burst into a spontaneous riot of insuppressible laughter. People were falling out of their seats with mirth! It took Scott a moment to realize what he had done that was so gut-bustinging funny.
. Was the special gift he had for his daughter something in or beneath his pocket?
The Saga of THE MISER, in Part 2 of PLAY PRODUCTION FOLLIES.
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.