My biological father was a desperately flawed man. A lot of my early life was shaped by his responses to his mental illnesseses and insecurities. His physical and emotional abuse of my biological mother, his self-hated and his inability to escape addiction had him appearing and disappearing from my life in odd spurts until I was removed from his life. He remained a presence until his death, but mainly as an exercise: could I forgive this man for what he’d done?
It is important to try to glean what you can from each process and production. Without some sort of periodic examination formal or informal, you will end up reinventing the wheel more than is necessary. For me the unexamined stretched are visible as plateaus in terms of skill and ability. These are meant to be an honest look at approach and craft and success of either and are not meant to reflect on the overall production or even necessarily if I or the show was “good”. I have been doing these sorts of internal reviews for myself and (where applicable) my team since 2006. I began sharing them publicly as I felt they were things others could gather information from especially in terms of low budget producing in 2009.
Once upon a time I played Katurian K. Katurian in The Pillowman. It was sort of an accident. I was supposed to play Michael in that production and was moved to Katurian when the performer who was originally cast needed to exit the show. Katurian is the sort of role that can overwhelm because there are nothing but choices. The man “Katurian” exists on the page but he doesn’t exist as a known entity in the wider world. Katurian is a melody line, a key, and a margin note to play him in a McDonaghian tempo. It’s jazz. Make it yours. I wanted my Katurian to find himself as he lost his life. Stammery-yammery bloke into the hero that his stories always lacked. As the show wore on removing the fidgeting and hand-flapping and even sanding down the Irish accent to make him less other to an Austin audience. He calmed as he
On Thursday you have the opportunity to not only see the opening night of a play, but an opening night of a company as Poor Shadows of Elysium open their doors to the tune of a coin-flip Richard II at the Curtain (good seats still available!). This process has been a joy. I am reunited with several of my compatriots from last summer’s 7 Tower’s production of Tis Pity She’s a Whore and I’ve been allowed to play John of Gaunt and the Bishop of Carlisle. If you haven’t read Richard II let me say simply that I get to deliver two of the greatest speeches ever put to paper. I get to do it on an Elizabethan style stage under the stars and I get to do it with a cast digging for every ounce of gold in this rich mine. And that’s sort of not the good part.
Rose Rage opens this very night and it’s been a slog personally. Coming on the heels of Tis Pity She’s a Whore I came to this process tired and sort of emotionally roiled. We had a great Tis Pity run and I was proud of my work but the end was cut short by rain and there was quite literally no break. I left Rose Rage rehearsal to stand in the rain and not get to perform the final Tis Pity show and then the next night back into Rose Rage. It’s been a long time since I’ve done concurrent shows. I’ve been several people since then and there a few calcifications that needed to be broken away to switch modes. One of them is the personal fight I’ve had to be more selfish in my performance choices. Democracy is a political system not a proper methods of art creation
There are shows you survive through like 8th period Western Civ class… watching the clock and hoping that the teacher forgets you’re there. And then there are shows that you miss like summer camp. You can be in good shows, you can do good work in shows, or you can do shows with good people. It’s rare that all three happen in the same production and when it does it’s awful hard to let those shows go. But here in the #SummerofVerse the next opening awaits and while a rained out finale is no way to go, go we must – time is a blockhead. What did we learn from Tis Pity? My goal going in was to focus on physical specificity. I can in fact build a character outside in. I made stance/gait/vocal choices for two of the three characters and filled the “heart” of them in once I
Last week I closed a four week run of Doug Wright’s Quills with Austin’s Different Stages and I wanted to jot down a few things I learned that will be helpful to me going forward. Please bear with me if this makes no damn sense or is insufferably precious about acting. Doctor Royer-Collard is the sort of apoplectic asshole I’ve been playing since I was 16. He’s Horace Vandergelder with a bad childhood. He wants happiness and love… he just sucks at them and so clings to the rigidity of the framework The Rules supplies to force others into the same misery. The Doctor is what the free range nerd would call Lawful Evil. I had a surprising amount of trouble with the Doctor for a character I’ve been playing for 20 years. Partly because of the setting the Doctor found himself in (sort of Grand Guinol farce), my own
James Comtois opened up a blog post for comments on the recently completed Colorful World. I love the idea, and I commend his bravery in doing it. I’m sure no one is going to hop in and brow beat him (especially for what was by all accounts a hell of a show) but the act of doing it takes courage regardless of the consequences. I offer the same for Foursquare. Now. Seeing as none of you saw FourSquare I offer my own assessment of my work. I leave an overall assessment of the show to folks who have seen it, as I never have. FourSquare was (as I have repeated ad nauseam to those around me for the last four months) my first opportunity in a long time to simply be an actor on a show, so I think that this serves as an excellent time to sound the depths