Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Count the italics, win prizes

As previously mentioned, I'm in a play right now at a local community theatre. I'm actually one of the leads--I play the lecherous ne'er-do-well, which I wish I could say was a stretch. As it is, the director's an old college roommate of mine, who mentioned that he cast me because the character reminded him of when we lived together.

Reputations are sometimes hard to scrub off.

As a lark, I've started categorizing the actors I'm working with, and I've been able to identify three distinct groups. The first group, the one I fall into, is comprised of people with zero to moderate theatrical training, who occasionally feel like performing in a public venue. We may not be Academy Award material, but we have a lot of fun. The downside is that we're easily distracted by outside influences, and our careers tend to take precedence over our stagework. ("How am I supposed to focus on my character arc when the quarterly reports are due? My God, man, the quarterly reports...")

The second group is made up of people who have devoted their lives to the Stage. The best thing about them is that they freakin' commit. Need them off-book by tomorrow? They were off-book the day before yesterday. Need somebody to stay an extra 14 hours after rehearsal to finish the set? No problem--they'll spend the night in the theatre. Some of them are pretty talented as well, and they're almost always high-energy, so overall they're enjoyable to work with. The only thing I've noticed that's sort of off-kilter is their habit of emphasizing theatrical terms when they speak, which I think stems from deeply internalized acting lessons: "Now, when I move from center stage to upstage right, should I deliver that soliloquy in a stage whisper, or should I really project from my diaphram?"

Finally, there are my personal favorite community theatre denziens, the Aging Divas with Negligable Acting Ability. These winners are absolutely convinced that they're God's Gift to the Theatre, but will turn around and deliver their lines in a brain-freezing monotone, broken up by excruciating pauses where they try to remember their blocking. We've got one in this show, and he's making me very, very crazy, to the point where I start twitching everytime he opens his mouth (kind of distracting in scenes where we have to interact). As our director put it to me in a private conversation which I probably shouldn't be posting on the Internet: "I've never met anyone who's every theatrical instinct is so wrong."

I shouldn't complain, though. Really, the show's coming along nicely, and the star has this natural, softspoken style that he's using to create an endearing, believable character. He's quite handsome, too, and he's all into holistic health and hemp-based textiles, and no, I am not completely infatuated with him, nor have I ever fantasized about him striking yoga poses in my living room while I do the Dance of the Seven Veils to Barry White's Greatest Hits, so stop looking at me like that.

(ed. note: What does all this have to do with the state of NeoPaganism in the world today? Well, let me tell you, not a damn thing. Unless, of course, you take into account that theatre evolved out of ancient ritual performance, in which case this has everything in the world to do with NeoPaganism. This is quite possibly the Most Pagan Post Ever Written.)

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