Author Archive for

07
Oct
08

one final farewell before flight.

We closed Love’s Labour’s Lost yesterday. It was a good end to a good run, in my opinion. I learned a lot, I had a lot of fun, and I made a lot of friends. Well, at least one. Ok, I’m exaggerating. One half. But my hair is beginning to recover from the constant curling and brushing! And I may have made off with half my wardrobe. Hey, Katherine gotta get paid, son. I intend to return to New York with a whole lot of style in my back pocket. I didn’t actually pack any with me on my trip here. 

So what’s next for Emily, you ask? Well, when I return my good friend Lynn Hyde and I will be having a great dinner get together in order to re-acclimate me to the city. Then I get to get right into the swing of things by going to Jury Duty! That’s right, right from one paying job to the next! I am one lucky girl. 

But in the theater world I return to auditioning, newly assisted by my EMC card. I also have some projects floating in the air; a new piece developed through this technique called Rasaboxes (which is awesome, by the way), a two-person play with a few colleagues of mine from Brooklyn College, and another one that I know nothing about at this moment! I also will be looking into other jobs; yoga jobs, support jobs, and all that good stuff. I’m excited to see what happens.

I also want to thank everyone at Milwaukee Shakespeare. I had a fabulous time working on this project, and I really appreciated the warm reception I got from everyone on the Milwaukee Shakes staff. Thanks to Paula and Jennifer for giving me this opportunity. Thanks to the cast and crew for their hard work and camaraderie. Thanks to Kristin for picking me to write this blog. Thanks to all of you for listening to my rambles.

03
Oct
08

is the fool sick?

Yes indeed. Well, I am currently on the upswing of this crazy cold that took me by surprise even as I feel asleep Monday night. I woke up with a student matinee at 10am and a horrible, horrible cold. You know the kind–your body is tired, your head is stuffed and cloudy, and your nose is so full of mucous that you can barely breathe! And yet I was able-bodied, and knew that this kind of cold wasn’t a reason to call in the understudy.

It is difficult as an actor when you get sick because we use so much of ourselves in our work. Our complete awareness, our voices, our physical bodies, our memories, our emotions, our quick thinking, everything we have is utilized in our job. So even though my work day was only two and a half hours long, during that time period I have to be running on all four cylinders. 

I did my warm ups with a little extra care, got to the theater, took the curlers out of my hair, drank some tea and stared at myself in the mirror. It was a gloomy sight. (I have my dear friend Julia to thank for trying to cheer me up through the three days I was sick. She never gave up and she made me smile nearly constantly. She is the best.) I managed to get my clothes on, take a deep breath, and make it to the stage.

Now there is something that takes over when you enter the stage. I don’t mean that I am possessed by my character or some other force, but the learned pattern of behavior that you have created on the stage takes over. My energy naturally increased, and I found that even through my cold all my acting choices were working on their own. They have been programmed into my body through the rehearsal and through my technique. So even though I was feeling a little under the weather, because of my training and hard work I was able to make it through the performance just fine. I was exhausted afterwards, and I learned where to hide Kleenex in all my costumes, but I doubt it was all that noticeable to the audience. Except maybe for my diction. I never realized I had quite so many m’s and n’s in my text before. I mean, my third word is Dumaine, or as I pronounced it, Dubaide. But the cold also gave my voice that nice, husky low tone.

So as the cold lifts I look forward to enjoying my performance a little more, and having the extra energy that comes with health. But I did learn that all my work can stand on its own, and when I’m feeling a little sad, I can always look to Julia for a lift!

30
Sep
08

we are shame proof, my lord.

We are entering the final week of performance tomorrow. Seven performances total left before we close the show and scatter to the four winds…

This show has really been a joy to perform. This is the longest run of a show I have ever had, and I’ve had such a great time finding ways to keep it fresh and interesting. But I’ve had lots of help. Here are some of my favorite moments so far.

1. Stacy while just about to start his song fell backwards off the gig case and still managed to make it look cool.

2. I believe last weekend Kevin said “im-per-A-tor”

3. There was an incident with a leaking gel bra…

4. A piece of paper was spit from Kevin’s mouth, hit Jarrod in the forehead, and stuck to his forehead through sweat alone.

5. Several of us in the green room discussed how we had somehow gained weight during this show, while selecting candy bars from the huge stash.

6. Angela remained dignified while sauntering over to Molly to tuck in her tag.

7. I kissed Jarrod’s cheek, only to have my face covered in his sweat. At the next show he wiped off his cheek first with my pashmina, like a gentleman.

8. Teddy decided to use a British accent one day, and all of us almost lost it.

9. While exiting from the nookie scene in my little short nighty, I ran into a pack of urchins from La Boheme. I like to think they learned something that day.

10. While we were all waiting backstage, and quietly dancing to the transitional music, Norman was so inspired that he had to clap.

Not too crazy for live theater. Probably few of these were noticed by the audience, but they were all much appreciated by the cast.

27
Sep
08

katherine learns to love…again.

So I had an interesting experience during the show today. I discovered something that I hadn’t discovered before. Again, this may make no difference to the audience, or it may. I think it did effect the ending, but again, that’s from my point of view. 

Off-stage I had been thinking about the arc of my character. Every character should change or grow in every play. It’s the actor’s job to find that arc and discover their character’s arc or story and how it serves the larger story. I had thought about the arc during rehearsal, and had come up with things, but as the run has continued I have kind of forgotten it, or put it to the wayside. So discovering this arc today is more for me as an actor, to keep things fresh.

I was thinking about my sister after I wrote the entry yesterday. Jen and I had discussed that my sister’s death is responsible for my resistance to the idea of falling in love, my skeptical opinion of the men, and my general desire for a light, good time (except in my work, of course). So I went with that today, as usual, but that leads me, if I stick to it unfailingly, to a character without a whole lot of arc. If she starts that way and ends that way, what has changed for her?

So today, at the proposal, Katherine was suddenly face to face with the idea that Dumaine’s love is serious; that it is possible that he truly loves her. This, first of all, is a total shock. She has pushed love away for so long that she had no idea it might show up for her. But the sudden appearance of this possibility of real love could also have the opportunity to open her heart. And when the Princess accepts (with a test) the love of the King, Katherine is sort of given the permission to take this situation more seriously (by someone she respects). And so, although she cannot accept Dumaine’s proposal in this instance for many reasons, she is suddenly taken by the idea that this love is possible. So that last exchange between Katherine and Dumaine isn’t necessarily just plain skeptical, but it is inviting the opportunity for love to come in the future. That doesn’t mean that I think they end up together, but Katherine is changed because of what she experienced. She is open to the possibility of what could happen. 

Perhaps that all seems slightly corny, but it just goes to show what an actor can discover during the process, and how those discoveries can keep the story and the character fresh and interesting performance after performance without harming the integrity of the story. So heap on the corn. I’m not afraid.

26
Sep
08

i do this for the people.

I realize that I have been slightly delinquent in writing these blog entries. I do apologize, as I know many of you depend on me just to have the will to get out of bed in the morning. To have the strength to breathe and face each new day. The fact is, I haven’t been quite sure what to write in these past few days. The show is really running itself. People are playing more, being silly, and some bits and characters are growing more complex. 

Those pieces of text that I had trouble with have become second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in. I was just speaking to my parents about that section with my sister. I am very glad that I made the choices I did about that section. I still find it very interesting, and I find the audience response very interesting as well. At that brief moment, the bottom kind of drops out of that scene. Not only does it foreshadow the end of the play, but adds this layer of the uncomfortable to a group of people that, up till that moment, have just been running around and having a lot of fun. So in a way, it was a difficult choice to make. It creates this great moment for Rosaline and I, where I really express this admiration for who she inherently is as a person, it always makes me a little teary, and then we kind of have to dig ourselves back out of the serious and into the silly. That moment where I decide to tease her and we enter into this “witty banter” section is Katherine’s way of lightening the mood, telling everyone it’s ok, and all the women getting back to their good times. But what is interesting is that the audience is so quiet in this section. Perhaps they are sitting back in their chairs and thinking “What the heck?” but they seem to be taken in by the moment. 

Other parts I continue to think about. At the first few performances, I think I was pushing a little bit, to make sure that Katherine came across as a definite character and not a set dressing. Now I feel like I’m letting it go, but every once in a while I wonder if she is still coming across as clearly. And once I came off stage after the first scene and said to my dear friend Julia, “Did that speech just seem like nonsense?” She assured me that it didn’t, but that thought does encourage me to continue to look at my speeches to make sure I am still communicating the sense before anything else. I don’t want to muck up the story with bells and whistles.

It is also a challenge to continue to stay in the moment. Let’s face it, I could do this show now with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back. The costume designer might not like it, but it’s possible. So it is so important to continue to listen and to observe and to experience instead of just going on auto-pilot. What helps me is to continue to notice different things in my scene partners, and to find new moments to connect with them. The second you start thinking things in your own head, you start to leave the immediate moment. It’s always your scene partners that bring you back and help you discover how to be where you are. This play gives me plenty of new things to find in every show. There are so many dang people that it is easy to discover more things in each show.

I know Paula loves to hear about my sleeping habits, and now I must to bed. By the way, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to join the conversation. Unless you have a negative comment. In that case I suggest you comment on Kevin Rich’s blog.

22
Sep
08

the juvenile and the jaded.

We began our series of student matinee performances this week, and it was so interesting! It is interesting to see how a student audience reacts compared to an adult audience. I mentioned in an earlier entry that every audience is different, but I think there are some things that an older audience would find more entertaining, and some things a younger audience would find more entertaining. 

For instance, no one laughs at the virgin joke! I must admit that that is very refreshing. To know that some of the sexier jokes and pot jokes can still go over the heads of kids, some of whom are teenagers.

And it is also so exciting to see how involved most of them are. I think the concept of this show really helps to bring kids that have never seen Shakespeare into the play. At one of our student matinee talk-backs a teenage boy raised his hand to tell us how much he enjoyed the play. He said it wasn’t anything like what he expected. We asked what he expected. The audience all mumbled that they were worried it would be boring. To be able to present this play to high school age kids and younger, and to have them be involved in and enjoying the story is really amazing. I mean, if you happen to read this play, there is so much that is really difficult to grasp. Even for a Master of the Fine Arts like me (I go by Master Emily, if you didn’t know). So to have a concept that doesn’t dumb the play down, but takes it into the world that we are living in today–that is a truly amazing help for everyone in the play and everyone watching the play. 

The other thing that is fascinating is the response of the student audiences as compared to the adult audiences when we ask them questions about the play, especially about the lovers. When we ask a student audience if the men were really in love with the French women, almost all of them stand up (in agreement). When we ask you jaded adults, we consistently have less than half standing, sometimes none! The kids also think that all the couples will follow through on their year long promises. The adults? Not so much. Of course, my opinion tends to go along with the adults. I guess we’ve all been burned before, huh?

It may also have something to do with the fact that all of that evidence that the men might not be so honest and trustworthy is easily brushed aside when the kids see the couples cuddling and enjoying each other. I mean, if you look at most romantic movies, couples go through horrible things and still take each other back. This sense that love is so concrete and, in a way, simple, is something that is pounded into our heads by modern culture and media. Hopefully they haven’t had enough experience to refute this image yet. 

17
Sep
08

a winning way with words.

So having a run of this length allows me to keep discovering things after opening. Not that I could suddenly decide that Katherine is a mute, or a prude, or a nun, but I have been discovering further shades of my character. 

One thing I learned in graduate school (you hope to learn at least one thing [I, in fact learned many]) was to trust whatever reaction I had during a performance and to use it. Don’t ignore the fact that your scene partner is really pissing you off, because you may just find that it has more to do with character to character interaction than actor to actor interaction. Besides if it is useful, and you block it, you could be blocking off a whole set of instinctual responses, which causes your performance to be, well, boring. Again, this doesn’t mean that if your scene partner happens to step on your foot that you can just belt him in the mouth, but it does mean that every response you have may have validity in the piece. It must be through the filter of character and given circumstances and all that, but by this point that stuff is fairly automatic. 

Anyway, last weekend I noticed that as Katherine, I was really irritated with Berowne. I mean, I just wasn’t impressed by anything he was saying. I thought about this off stage and started to realize that this makes a lot of sense. Now this doesn’t mean that I have some sort of vendetta against Berowne, or that I intend to punch him in the jaw, but it goes along quite well with my cynical response to their first offer of love and to my career, etc.

As you may remember, Katherine is an author. She is amazing with words. So amazing, in fact, that she stumps two people in the play with her word-play. First she gets Rosaline (Rosaline’s response to her is “What is your meaning, mouse, of this dark word?” and “We’ll need more light to find your meaning out.” Then, in the masque scene, she completely baffles Longaville (and, as I hear from Julia and Jarrod, she baffles Maria and Dumaine as well.)

So I believe that part of the reason she dislikes Berowne is that he fancies himself a word-smith and she finds most of his banter lacking in some way. Not to mention his speech in which he declares he will only use simple means of wooing (no flowery words or courtly antics) in a sonnet. A sonnet, I tell you! I believe, as Katherine, that I could beat him at word-play very quickly, but he’s not really worth my time. As Maria and Boyet say of him, “Not a word from him but a jest” “And every just but a word.”

By the end of the play they are all shaken, and this is no longer a factor in the scene for me, but before that moment it is. It clarifies my relationship to a person that I have obviously met before (in the text it says he was at the party where I met Dumaine). I played with that today and found it to be successful. Now, no one probably notices unless they are very specifically watching me, but anything that makes your performance more specific is a good thing. 

Perhaps by the end of the run it will be a vendetta. One can only hope.




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