Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crown Making 101

Welcome to my crown making workshop! Aka: my dining room table.
Tonight I put the final touches on the proto-crowns for tomorrow's rehearsal of "Richard III". Currently, they are all bound up with clips so I'm not sure of their actual weight. I think all the added baubles will help for holding them on actor's heads.

The Kings' crown is stainless steel. I will be making the final one in brass. I've glammed it up a couple of ways for our ensemble to consider. In this picture you can also see a couple of designs I am considering for adorning a simple band crown. However, I'm pretty sure it will look too much like a hippy head band. But I had fun making the little squares. The Queens' crown is all brass, with red glass beads and gold beads attached all the way around. I am concerned that the beads look too much like what they are - garden/vase glass blobs. On stage, however, they may look fine. I think I should make one that is simpler still - a plain band with little gold semi-spheres on it seems appealing. I'll work on that tomorrow. If the cast likes the crenalated ones, I think I'll affix the perpendicular bits on the inside of the crown. Wish I'd thought of it earlier, but that's why these are prototypes!

Stay tuned for the finished product!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Being an acting student has unexpected bonuses!

In the second year of the program, we are working on three scene studies. The first was American Classical works (ie: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, etc.). The second was an English or Irish scene to be done with the appropriate accent. The third will be American Expressionism.

My scene partner Linda and I chose to work on an English piece because we had a pretty good grasp on the accent at the outset. We went to work scouring the libraries of two counties, and Powell's for just the right piece. It was incredibly difficult to find a) something in our age range b) something for women and c) something we actually liked.

We finally came across the works of Sarah Daniels, a very funny writer unafraid of powerful, somewhat taboo topics, whose work in the early 80's was pigeon-holed (I think wrongly) with a "Radical Lesbian Feminist" label. The scene we worked on was from "Masterpieces" about a woman beginning to understand the connection between violence against women and pornography, and finding comfort and support with the women in her life she hadn't realized was there all along.

The scouring began again for any information about Sarah Daniels. Unlike our other playwrights, the body of work around her was hardly biographical. All of it was either critical or academic, and very little touched on her as a person. What I grasped of her as an individual was that she was wicked smart, and very private.

I asked a friend of mine in the UK if he knew of any places online I could do research from here to find articles or interviews with her. He managed to find her agent and CV online and sent it my way. I emailed the agency asking for any articles about her and I heard nothing.

We gave up on getting more info than we'd found already and went forward with the scene study. I felt I had grasped my character, mostly. I found using an accent, playing a character learning about pornography (which was aimed primarily at men only at that time) in the early 80's in the UK was the most intense challenge I've had so far. Accents change everything - who you are, what you feel, your approach, tactics, obstacles - everything! Also, playing in a time during which I existed, but as a child, created unexpected obstacles in myself. I felt somewhat unworthy of depicting an adult from that time.

Not having a body of information on the playwright - in contrast to Tennessee Williams who wrote memoirs, and whose life was in many ways an open book - was both frustrating and freeing. The criticism - especially that written by men - around Sarah Daniels' work was vicious and personal. I think I would keep my memoirs to myself in that situation as well. Also, I realized that her play came in a very different time than Tennessee Williams'. It draws a different crowd, happens in a different culture. Some of the themes are extremely similar however - violence against women, women on their own, cruel and self-centered men.

Today, I came to my computer, checked mail as I always do, and there was an email from a Sarah that I could not place. I opened it and in a couple of short lines, I realized that THE Sarah Daniels had written me back!!! Not the assistant at her agency, not a bot, but THE Sarah Daniels!

I spat my PG Tips across the room, fell out of my chair, and sputtered something like "Crikey!"

She said she hates giving interviews, but she'd try to answer some questions. I spent the last hour writing a too long-email effusively thanking her, and trying to ask something worthy of her intelligence and sensitivity without being all Interviewy. Instead of "Where were you born?" type questions, I tried instead instigate a little discussion with her about the play.

I'm completely gobsmacked by this event. It feels like last week's Election Day, when suddenly everything seemed possible and like the world could be OK after all.

I told Ms. Daniels that I would not be publishing anything about what we discuss as it was purely for my edification in my scene study. I also let her know that she's under no obligation to reply as the work is essentially done.

I just had to share with you what a cool thing to be even in a little contact with a brilliant playwright one admires! I hadn't even dreamed of it, and here it is happening!

I've decided to keep dreaming!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ramblings or Thoughts

I'm not always the most vocal one in the group. And those who don't speak--Blog. haha.
I don't think I ever truly said how pleased I am to have the people we have as part of our second year group. I remember closing in on auditions and thinking to myself "gosh....I want us ALL to make it damn it!"
I formed such great friendships in the first year. I don't talk a lot but I always feel welcomed and respected in this group of ours. And for that I thank you all.
I look forward to working with you all. I've been in a fair share of plays and one of the things I appreciated most was being part of a cast that got along and wasn't afraid to have a little fun. Sometimes that makes all the difference in the stress level of putting on a play. We have a group that can make that difference.
We all have so much going on. But we have this one thing in common a love for the art of acting. And through that we connected on a pretty deep level one of high trust and respect and I tell you what: THANK GOD! The worst kind of actor to work with is one who DOESN'T want to be there, but we so obviously want to be there; the sacrifices, adjustments we make, the time we dedicate, there is not a doubt in my mind that we will work well together. With each scene, each class each meeting I see us growing.
That Shakespeare/ensemble day was perfect example. Following the tension of the photo stuff the shakespeare rehearsal though on the somewhat unprofesional side of life was such an exhale of relief to go through and hit lines and get to laughing at the end.
One request I have is we not loose sight of why through all the stress we have in our lives we still MAKE the time to go to PAC. That we don't loose sight our personal reasons why we love acting sco much. That we don't loose sight of the knowledge and growth we have gained just in the past YEAR and the fun and experience we are going to gain in the future.
Maybe these are just ramblings but I just thought i'd share some positive thoughts and hopes.
I pat thee all upon the back. :)