Friday, October 28, 2005

MacBeth: Opening Night Obsessing

First off, the important stuff:

Opening Night Tonight!!!!

directed by Michael Sokoloff

Abraham Peterka as Macbeth
Paula Grady as Lady Macbeth

Moongarden Acting Company

October 28, 29 & November 4, 5
at the Iowa City Community Theatre building.

Curtain 8pm


Now that that's out there, my perspective as a basically insignificant character played by an annoyingly verbose blogger:

There is so much cool stuff going on in this. The stage is minimal, but unusual - it's just a raised platform with a large slanted apron. NOTE: not tiered, slanted, a bit of a challenge to walk on in heels. There's grating on it (also a death-trap for heels) with lights and fog machine underneath. These allow for some really freaking cool effects, and Peter uses them to full advantage.

Dennis has some really freaky sound effects going on, particularly during the witch and battle scenes. Personally, I hope we kept that one "double double toil and trouble" background effect, where not only did we have that menacing drumbeat, but if you listened, it also sounded like Satan was chanting with them from somewhere overhead (I mean, it really sounded that way.) They were thinking about cutting it, I'm not sure the final decision. But that gives you the idea.

The costuming is also generally quite good, particularly for the guys. No lame-ass plastic daggers, but kilts and pelts and swords they have to dull (they swear they're not sharpening them, the jury's still out on that one). The witches float through the scenes in swaths of cheesecloth and have really freaky makeup. As far as my own costume goes, I actually found it myself, and think I did pretty well.

Acting wise, it's got the potential to kick ass. As Macbeth, Abe's awesome and you won't be disappointed. The rest of us are also generally very good, with a few last-minute rough bits we'll work through. And as you know, I've been damn impressed by the fight sequences from day 1. It's getting that much more interesting now that we're in costume and you can occasionally see what they wear under a kilt as they go flying about the stage. I'll just say nice view, and leave that one alone.

As for my scene: well, if we do it right you'll see some cool murder sequences. Oh, and I can still scream pretty loudly. There's some ripping of clothes and lifting of skirts involved, and I'm told the guys should appreciate it. All in all, I think it's about where it needs to be, except for last night.

It's going to be very cool, I'd definitely hit this one if you're available. Don't bring any kids that you wouldn't want to see violence and a bit of skin, though.


Referring to my earlier post on my bad OGP review, Homercles notes:
Those who can, do. Those who can't, become critics. Which, incidently, is #1 on my top 10 list of why I'll probably never try acting: my skin is too thin.

Yep, it helps to have a thick skin. But it's not as important as you think if you manage to retain some sense of perspective. Even a little bit.

This morning is a good example. You know the drill: 4:00 am, can't get back to sleep, feeling outclassed and wondering what the hell you just got yourself into. It wasn't the review. It stemmed from last night, when I made the mistake of letting myself get distracted with personal crap during intermission and lost my focus. I normally block out all any stuff that's going on, because it's rather unprofessional to bring it in unless you're going to use it as fodder. But I couldn't refrain from checking voicemail. That reminded me of the stuff I was blocking out, and dredged up all kinds of corresponding emotions. Then I got frustrated and mad at myself for not being able to shake it off. That was enough to throw off my timing, which frustrated me even more, etc. etc. etc.

I didn't drop a line or get a note or anything. A couple of people said they didn't anything wrong. But I knew, and so did anyone who was really paying attention. (By the way, thanks for the offer to run lines. I will have the timing back tonight. I promise.) I went to sleep depressed about the personal stuff and angry at myself for not exerting better control. I woke up insecure, obsessing, and not wanting much to get out of bed. I mean, I know I'm rather perfectionistic, and not just with acting. Okay, fine, very perfectionistic. It really, really, really, really bugs me when I feel I'm not up to par, despite having no pretensions of being an actual actor-type. Actually, to be bone honest, it bugs me whenever I'm not doing better than a healthy percentage of the people around me, in any activity for which I've got any insignificant shred of talent whatsoever. It's disconcerting, frustrating, and I hate it. (Side note: I hated law school because of it. Being surrounded by bunches of other people, most of them perfectionists who were also used to being top of the grade curve, makes you . . . about average. Aaargh. I'd not known precisely how competitive I am until I really had to work at it to keep up. Until I found my niche in advocacy, it was a freaking nightmare.)

So I'm lying there with the stupid dog snoring and the cat nibbling on my hand to get me to pet him, obsessing about the opening, and it pops into my head how the other day when we were experimenting with makeup (we tried some Kabuki thing, which really didn't fly), our director, Michael, expressed amazement that some of the cast knew little about theater makeup. Didn't we ever take a class? I take that riff for a while ("What the hell am I doing, I don't even know how to do makeup"), when it occurs to me: No, I've never had a makeup class. Or a costuming class, or a blocking (staging?) class (is that the right terminology?), or a voice lesson. Hell, I've never even had an acting class, except a semester of high school drama and a couple of Matty's six perspectives exercises. I know absolutely nothing about the theory of acting and methods and such. I'm making this shit up as I go. All I've got going for me is a brain for memorization, and . . . . . well, does lung capacity count?

I've had various friends and/or directors kindly try to include me in discussions on theory or method. Because I've absolutely no background, it makes my brain bleed as badly as Matty's does when he reads my legal posts. I can mostly keep up, but they have to keep stopping to explain who the people are and what theories they advocate, and I have, like, zero frame of reference to enable me to retain the information. So, maybe I should give myself some credit for being able to act as though I can act? Okay, that's a little tiny bit of crap unto itself. But still, while I'm not technically qualified to be in anything close to a professional production, apparently people who are so credentialed think I'm competent enough to cast me in good roles on a regular basis.

To tie it back, I'm not too concerned what a reporter for the Quad Cities thought of my acting in On Golden Pond. I mean, she's stuck reporting theater in the Quad Cities. As a career, for cryin' out loud. What I care about is what Jason thought of my performance, since he's A) very, very good; B) got the professional theater experience and background to know what the hell he's talking about; and C) a really cool person that I'm glad to have as a friend and I would never want to disappoint. And last Sunday (was it just last Sunday???), when we were all out after strike, Jason told me to look up the play The Shadow Box by Cristofer Michael, 'cause he wants to direct it sometime, and he thinks I'd be perfect for one of the parts. From what I can see, it's a complex, difficult piece. And he thinks I can do it. Go figure. So I guess I must be doing something right. When I found myself obsessing about the show, under this depressing cloud of "you're going to fail and make an idiot out of yourself in front of a gagillion people, and nobody likes what you're doing, and who the hell do you think you're fooling anyway" . . . I remembered that. Really, that's good enough for me.

Occurs to me that the competitive stuff makes me sound like I'd wish a bad performance/grade/luck on other people, or not be supportive of them. On the contrary, I want everybody to absolutely kick ass. Then I want to work my behind off to be on the high end of that curve. Then it means something. Example: in Appellate Advocacy I, I convinced the other side to get together with my team so we could trade information and make all our arguments stronger, basically transforming it more into a piece of performance art than an actual exercise in adversarial debate. It made sense to me: we were graded individually not adversarially, and the problem was intentionally supposed to be a close question with no right answer. So why not make everybody look good, then we'll all blow them away? No, it wasn't against the rules, just pretty much unheard of. It worked pretty well, though, judging by our grades.

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