Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beau Jestery Diaries

You guys.

The unabridged version of my Beau Jest rehearsal diary is 28 single-spaced pages long. 21,000 words. I have a problem.

(Actually, it's totally NOT a problem. I love writing and I always have, and I think I always will. It has blessed my life in the most wonderful ways. PLUS, you punks benefit from it, too, as readers of my blog. So Imma keep writin'.)

Anyway, here are a few more thoughts from Beau Jest rehearsals.

Monday, December 7, 2015
1st Day of Hannukah
Happy Hannukah! Today was the first day of the holiday, so during a break tonight, we ate our treats by the light of the menorah and listened to Adam Sandler’s Hannukah song.
I love my job. I love this play. I love my cast. I love this experience. I feel most alive and like myself when I am at the theatre, rehearsing and running lines and talking about the show.
I ran lines with Bryan a TON tonight before rehearsal even started, and it was so so so helpful. The whole rehearsal tonight was a good one.
Tonight was also one of those awesome nights when you find solutions to little problems. Or find ways to improve things. (I also organized all those dishes and stuff!) I love those nights of fixing and discovering. We fixed the first romantic kiss thing with this idea I had, and it wasn’t not working before, but now it works even better. I just felt “on” tonight. There’s only so much control one seems to have as an actor. You do have some control. But there are times when the magic is there, and times when it isn’t. After Saturday’s being “off,” tonight’s being “on” felt amazing. There have been a few times in my life when I can feel that—when I feel myself brushing up against that column of light, or even standing in it. I always notice and then try to stop noticing—noticing turns that light off. You just have to keep going. I can feel the elements of this production combining more and more consistently to make that happen more and more often. I love that. It’s, and you’ll have to forgive the shortcomings of language here, magical.
Tonight’s “Ruthie Award” (the first one of the process!) went to Ben Parkes, for ending his victory dance with “Too legit to quit,” and also for his maniacal laughter after the line “It’s settled.”
Finally, Bryan didn’t shave before rehearsal tonight, so he was all scratchy. I was complaining about it all night, and then when I got home and kissed Jacob, I laughed because he was scratchy, too. “I’ll never escape it!” I cried. “Every man I've kissed tonight has been so scratchy!” (File that under “Things I Am Surprised to Hear Myself Say.”)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Ugh, Act One lines are rough. Even with Bryan and I meeting to run them beforehand. We’re continually improving, though, so I feel confident we’ll get to where we need to be. Tonight’s “Ruthie” went to Betsy, for sqealing gleefully as Miriam, and hitting Joel’s hand with such great timing.
Also, after all my complaining about Bryan’s scratchy face last night, he showed up today having shaved—everything except his mustache. You know, the part most likely to poke me when I’m being kissed.

Thursday, December 10, 2015
I feel so much more confident about Act II than I do about Act I. I also want to just rehearse everything always. We’re alternating casts for rehearsal this week, so I didn’t have any last night, nor do I rehearse tomorrow night. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. It will be four whole days until rehearsal!
I love that Eric and Bryan have improv experience. They both can do excellent impressions of Winnie the Pooh characters, so tonight, the two of them did a scene as Tigger (Eric) and Pooh bear (Bryan) having a mobster confrontation. It was amazing. I suspect, deep within me, that I could be amazing at impressions. But I’m afraid to try, because if I don’t succeed, I’ll be really really sad about it.
Tonight’s Ruthie award went to Todd Thompson, for his hilarious mumbling as he sits back down after yelling that he’s willing to convert to Judaism.
I am so so so so so absurdly grateful to be doing this show. I was heartbroken when I didn’t get cast in “Christmas Carol,” but now I understand why. Or at least I understand how that heartbreak fit in to the path of my life. I needed to do Beau Jest. I have this line in the show where I say, “I don’t know why you came into my life at this particular time…” and for a brief moment tonight, I thought about how I feel that way about the show in general. It’s funny—I’ll make these friends, and then I can’t remember what my life was like before them. All I know is that working with these people and getting to do this show is one of the greatest blessings in our move to Utah.

Monday, December 14, 2015
Our cast just ran lines while the other cast did a run tonight. It was EXACTLY what we needed. It was also fun to just sort of run around the dance studio and play while we got our lines down.
Oh! And here's a funny thing! Betsy and I realized tonight that I went to her house about a YEAR ago for Soup Group. Jayne Luke from Damn Yankees invited me and Jessica. I only went once, but Betsy and I realized tonight that it was to HER house. I remembered later that she had cats named after characters in “Waiting For Godot.” Who would have thought that one day we'd be playing mother and daughter? Funny.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Feels like the first full run-through we’ve done in a long time. It went pretty well—we’re still making new discoveries and that feels great. We’re still stronger on Act II, probably because it’s shorter. The confession to my parents was so emotional for me tonight—I’m glad I was able to go there. Eric told me to pull back a little bit, and I responded that I agreed; it was just happening and I wanted to follow it and see where I would eventually need to pull back. At the end of that scene, Bob hugs Sarah, and after the initial hug, I sort of buried myself into it—I needed the safety of it…I did, as Liz.
There are certain things that happen during rehearsal or during notes that I have no way of explaining in words. I can try to record them, but I don’t know how. Like, I’ll try to explain this one…today after notes, Bryan grabbed my finger and sort of lifted my hand with it. Then he put it down. Then I lifted my own hand by my finger in the same way, then lifted his hand the same way too. Why? I don’t know. Following an impulse. Then he started sculpting my hand, then I started sculpting his, step by step, until we had formed this two-hand sculpture, with his hand making a peace sign and mine flipping the bird. At that point, Eric saw my hand and stopped us and said, “No hate!” I pointed to Bryan to blame him, and then paused and said, “I…actually don’t have any way to explain how this started.” As we stood up, Bryan pointed out that this is the case for most of the things we do.
Today’s treat was brought by Todd, who is a miracle of class and humor. He brought us all bottles of sparkling cider, but they were a “special brand.” He took a picture of himself, IN COSTUME, with the piano in the lobby. Then he made a special label for each bottle, with his picture, calling the drink “Chris’s Bubbly.” It was AMAZING.
Also, we are the worst Jews EVER. We made plans to celebrate Hannukah, and we were all about it for the first day—lit candles on the menorah and everything. And then we forgot about it for the rest of the holiday. I don’t think we ever lit candles again. Oops.
Tonight’s Ruthie went to Jerry, for upping his game so much and coming so far, especially having missed so much rehearsal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Tech Preview tonight! And it was…um…a little rough. But not horrendous. I managed to convince everyone to let MWF do Act II instead of Act I, because we’re stronger on it than we are on Act I. We’ll have to tackle Act I tomorrow, but at least not in front of technicians. I think we were all just nervous. We made mistakes in places we’ve never made mistakes before. The very last scene, we got SO LOST in the lines. I think we got every single one of them in, though. Just in sort of an arbitrary order.
I feel like I was able to find a good balance with the vulnerability of the confession towards the end of the show. I was able to be honest with it, but also allow it to build naturally (pulling it back where it needed to be). Sometimes I get worried about “making myself cry.” It’s nice if I cry, because it’s physical evidence of the emotional journey—something visual that represents the inner experience. But I never want to force it. So I’m trying to remember some of the skills I learned in Ben Hopkin’s class—just stay connected, soften into the moment, and let it move you. When I do that, tears come naturally. I feel pretty good about my work on this show in general, and I’m so grateful for the ways it has allowed me to grow.
I also loved watching the other cast do Act I. I learn so so much from watching. I’ve got a handful of notes to implement, just from seeing how the other cast does things. During rehearsal tonight, I kept leaning over to Bryan to whisper ideas—leaning over the cardboard box and coat rack we put between us to keep us from distracting each other. (It sort of worked.) There are a few moments for us to work tomorrow before rehearsal starts.
Here's a funny…one never really discusses the logistics of kissing in real life. You just kiss. But these things need to be discussed for the stage. At one point, Bryan and I watched Ben A and Becca do a specific kiss, and I turned to Bryan and reminded him about a note that Eric gave us. Bryan asked, “Should I swivel my head?” I thought and then replied, “Only if you shave.”
Tonight, Andy brought marshmallows as a treat, because Chris told us she can fit 17 marshmallows in her mouth and we wanted her to prove it. (She didn’t.) Between discussions of my small mouth and those marshmallows, the entire thing quickly descended into perverse innuendo. Sigh. I love this cast. (And for the record, I could only fit one marshmallow in my mouth. ONE.)
Finally, tonight’s Ruthie awards went to a TEAM. Ben A, Ben P, Betsy, and Bryan won a game of “Categories” before we began the run. We actually warmed up tonight, something we’ve never done before, and their team beat us. Although, I felt an “Honorary Ruthie” should have gone to Ben A, because when Eric said the category was “Modern Prophets,” Ben A yelled, “Yes! I got this! I was the primary chorister, bitches!”

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Tonight we tackled Act I, and we did pretty darn good! We’re more and more solid on lines, and we tried a few new things and made a few new discoveries. We open in two weeks—whew! Tomorrow’s rehearsal was originally a TBA, so we decided to just work a few Sarah and Bob scenes. I’m glad because that’s what I feel like we need. There are a few bits that just need smoothing. And I really love watching the other cast. They have such different moments, and I love stealing from them.
Oh, and tonight’s Ruthies went to Becca and ME! For our hard work, from the very beginning. I felt honored.

Friday, December 18, 2015
Tonight was just Sarah and Bob in rehearsal, and Bryan and I did a few fun exercises when it was just the two of us—we traded off working with the set and Eric, and working on our own in the dance studio. We did one scene in gibberish, to find a few ways to get out of intonation patterns and communicate just with our bodies and faces. We did one scene waaaaay over the top, to just see what we discovered. Both exercises were SUPER helpful, and I ended up making some great discoveries that I could put into use. The only downside was that after we did the scene in gibberish, we kind of had a hard time getting back into English again.
Oh. Also, I totally said the word “f**k” in rehearsal tonight. I kept messing up my line and I was standing right next to Bryan and looking at him and trying to get this line out. I finally just ended my nonsense string of words with a whispered, “F**k.” Bryan laughed, then turned to Eric and said, “Are we allowed to say ‘f**k’?” Eric laughed and Tammy reprimanded us, even though she laughed while she did so.
Tonight's rehearsal felt really productive. There was one particular scene where Eric didn’t have any notes for us—said it was great just the way we were doing it. Victory! On another scene, Eric said, “I like the way you’re doing that bit.” I said, “Really? During this whole process, I’ve felt a little—I don’t know, I’ve been afraid of not being feminine enough.” He pointed out that even if my ACTIONS are not super-feminine, they will be MADE feminine by the costume and makeup and hair. He said that as a director, he spends a lot of time trying to PULL comedy out of actresses--women are often not as confident in their humor. We talked about how it’s really only been within ONE generation or so that women are allowed to be funny, if that. It’s hard for women to have confidence in their ability to make people laugh, because it’s still such a new idea. I pointed out that it’s hard for women to feel funny and f**kable at the same time (although this time, I didn’t say the word). But Eric pointed out that most men want to be with a woman who will make them laugh. One of the many strange conundrums the modern woman faces. Anyway, it felt nice to have my work as a comedienne recognized.

No comments: