We had our first read-through for Vintage Scenes on Thursday. We’re supposed to be off-book by Monday. Eek!!
I’m not used to working this way. In all the theatre I’ve done, we stay on-book until the blocking is more or less set. Then we take everything to the next level. It’s very similar to learning a new song, where we stay with the printed music until we’ve got it solid.
Jim, our director, has a different philosophy. For him, the work can’t begin until lines are memorized. I disagree but I’m open to working the way he asks us to. He’s got some great ideas and I’m looking forward to digging into my roles a little more.
The first is “C” in a 30th-floor-ledge comedy called Nicotine High. I basically play a hyped-up über-cop who’s more interested in code violations than in the fact that “A” is about to jump off the ledge.
The second is “Tanqueray” in the comedy Sheep in Men’s Clothing. I play a Southern lush who delights in leading religious fundamentalists astray. It’s a fun role. I do love comedies.
Altogether my parts make up about 2 minutes of onstage time but oh, what a fun two minutes! We start tomorrow with blocking and characterization, though Tanqueray is pretty much in her liquid groove.
I’ve made recordings of the other actors’ lines and am frantically running mine until my brain is mush. Is this helpful? Perhaps not. I’m also trying the “move around while drilling” trick, which helps—until my brain is mush. It doesn’t help that one of our actors, Bethany, is one of those folks who can simply glance at a script and have it memorized immediately. A regular Jimmy Cagney. I hate her. (KIDDING.)
Actually, that’s one thing I keep thinking about—in all the great actors’ biographies I’ve read over the years (a thousand? a million?) the two things that are always mentioned are “they knew their lines and they hit their marks.” Utter professionals. Didn’t waste anyone’s time on-set.
Is there a way to channel Katharine Hepburn?? Okay, maybe I should just bite the bullet and drill the bloody things. Mush, here I come!