Monday, June 9, 2008

Pleasures of Peace

This is the final production of Medicine Show's 38th season. Which is impressive. This is the fourth full production I've done with Medicine Show. I've also been involved in a number of staged readings there. Barbara Vann is the artistic director there and has directed all of the productions I've been involved in.

Barbara has a unique way of working. She loves chaos and inspiration and being fresh and always breaking convention. She has a certain genius to her work. The downside of all this is that, as an actor, one never knows from one moment to the next what your intentions will be, who your character is, or what lines you will be saying. You could be working on a scene for a week and then she can come in and tell you she's decided we've been wrong all along and its totally something else. I've seen her take whole scenes away from actors who've been working on them for weeks, because they weren't present at a rehearsal when she wanted to rehearse it. She'll look at someone who is there that day and say "can you do this scene?" "Yes" is always the answer any actor would give. "Its yours" she would reply,"Let's work on it."

Anyway, here we are, a few days before a paying audience is going to show up and expect to see this show and I am at my wits end, to be honest. And, I can't really blame anyone but myself. All of the other productions I've done there went the same way. I'm in a pretty substantial scene at the end of the show that we have literally only rehearsed once. And when we did rehearse that scene, we spent most of the time talking about our characters. Not that I'm opposed to this kind of discussion, but when you are less than a week away from opening, and you haven't even run the scene all the way through, I'd much prefer to run it run it run it run it...and talk about it later.

We don't know what we'll be wearing, we haven't learned all the songs yet. She's still changing things. She doesn't believe in tech rehearsals. I am afraid that the first time we actually use the lights will be opening night. She often says, "you rehearse in performance." This is not my style. I'm more the type that likes to be very prepared. I like to work off script for most of the rehearsal period.

Anyway.... All of the other shows I've done here feel like this two days before we open. We always threaten to push back the opening because we're not ready, but we never do. We pull it together and it magically all happens on opening night.

There's something about having the lights on you, having your costume on, having the audience sit there, glued to every word you say, having the director finally quiet and out of sight, that makes it all come magically together. Its not perfect--not without its flubs. But the Medicine Show style is such that an audience member could never tell you goofed unless you tell them.

I have learned quite a lot about performing through my experience with Medicine Show and Barbara Vann. I always swear I'll never work here again, and then the show ends up being such a riotous blast of a good time, that I forget my vows and keep coming back for more glorious, messy, chaotic, artistic, torturous, intellectual, experimental fun.

My fingers are crossed although my heart is pounding.

Oh, and the fact that its 99 degrees out doesn't really help much either.

1 comment:

cogZ said...

I saw it last night - it was a blast! And, miraculously, well put-together ... You'd never know there was such chaos such a short time ago.

Brrrilliant!

-Zeke