Tonight's rehearsal was all about overacting on purpose. With purpose. And was lots of fun!
The director has been asking for more...More...MORE in the past few rehearsals. In my case, it's been a struggle because I haven't necessarily found what's right yet (I've only had 5 rehearsals), but that doesn't really matter. She doesn't care whether my choices are right--she just wants to see them played bigger.
The rest of the cast has been struggling with that too, in large part because we've been rehearsing in intimate spaces--a living room cleared of furniture, a small dance studio and a church classroom. Our playing area for the actual performance is much larger, so we needed a kick in the pants to get us to play to fill the space.
Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
We moved rehearsal outside tonight, where we had to compete with the sounds of airplanes arriving at the San Jose airport (Marie's house is directly underneath the final approach for landing), dogs barking and children playing next door in order to be heard and make our point.
To help get us out of our heads and into our more impulsive state, for one night only, the director gave us permission to play big, broad stereotypes and to see where that took us.
I loved it, because the deeper I get into this script, the more I want to play it like it's a Dario Fo or Joe Orton play. To me, the play is a wild, absurd farce set in a courtroom, but we're playing it straight as a realistic, serious courtroom drama.
The problem is that play was written in the 1950's and it shows. Picture an early Perry Mason courtroom scene, and you'll have an idea of the style of the play. But we're not setting it in the 1950's. We're trying to set in a contemporary period without defining it as contemporary--sort of an ageless period.
Words, Words, Words
It should go without saying that words are powerful little things. It's almost a cliche by now, but if you open yourself up to words, they can lead you places where you had no idea of going.
In grad school, I was taught to learn how to give myself over to a script. How to let the and the rhythmsounds of the words take me out of my head, and into my body. To let the words define my character and guide my journey, free of any rational or intellectual choice of mine own.
So tonight...when asked to overact and cut loose of any inhibitions or rational thought, a middle-aged Jewish man who loved and admired Jesus emerged.
And boy, was he pissed.
Tonight I wailed...howling my anger at the death sentence, puking my disgust at the proceedings in which I partook, and dove into the shock, sorrow and bewilderment at how everything turned into a clusterf**k so quickly. I felt the tenderness I had for Jesus preparing his body for his burial.
And then pushed that vocally and with energy to the back of the yard, 75 feet away.
Okay. So I lost some of the truths that I had been working on...but found new ones instead. I lost some focus on the crispness of the words and 'pushed' more than I just let it flow, but that's part of the process too.
More importantly, I got back into the habit of putting my energy out to an audience that is a fair distance away. I felt tired at the end of rehearsal, like after a good workout, which is a good sign.
That's how I want to feel after every rehearsal or performance. It was nice to feel that way tonight...like a visit with an old friend.
I'm rounding into shape. Another week to go!