Stepping into Magic: an actor's journey…

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" ~William Shakespeare

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Water By The Spoonful: Chapter 2…..

Aaaaaaand We are Open! Saturday night we officially opened the Regional Premier of Water by the Spoonful. The audience was very responsive and afterwards there was a little reception with mingling and congratulations with old and new friends. The theatre scene here in the Bay area is so vibrant. From the ridiculously talented actors to the smart and dedicated patrons.

Set of Water By The Spoonful at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts

Set of Water By The Spoonful at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts

The theatre we are performing in is quite large and with 600 seats and a wide stage it presents a vocal challenge for actors. The play is one that has many intimate moments and one on one conversations. Without amplification we have to dig deep and speak with volume, yet at the same time share the emotional quality of our character’s struggles. When the theatre was empty I could feel my voice traveling around the space, however the air changes with hundreds of bodies in the seats. If I talk to someone after a show I like to ask where they were sitting and if they could hear us. There are times where I feel like I am shouting, but I remember that I am faced with the task of sharing this story and I have to share it all the way up to the balcony. Besides proper breathing and techniques ( Which I learned in Undergraduate and Graduate School based on Kristin Linklater’s work) I also rely on intention. I will my voice to travel to each and every corner, I can feel myself sending it up and out. The biggest challenge is to keep my chin up and not talk to the floor, as we often do in real life. The language in this play is also very rich and layered and if we aren’t clear enough the audience might have a hard time following the journey. We can tell when we are being clear because the audience responds, either vocally or with silence. To hear hundreds of people immediately get quiet after a revealing line is one of the greatest rewards of this art form. Likewise, when they applaud, laugh or gasp it informs the work we are doing in the moment and makes it all that much more worth it.

View of the house from the set.

View of the house from the set.

My Dressing Room Station

My Dressing Room Station

So this is our home for the next three weeks. We run shows Tuesday through Sundays, with the occasional double Saturday and Sunday shows. We have our days back! After a celebratory gathering of the cast and crew at the local Irish Pub for pool and beer I came home and slept for 12 hours!

A few reviews are in and all we can hope for are that as many people come spend a few hours with us so we can share this incredibly moving story.

San Jose Mercury News:Review: ‘Water By the Spoonful’ powerful look at family in crisis by Georgia Rowe

 

 

SF Gate:‘Water by the Spoonful’ review: Stories of real, online families by Robert Hurwitt

 

Opening Night flowers from Mom and Dad

Opening Night flowers from Mom and Dad

 

 

Water By The Spoonful: Chapter 1…

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Aaaaaand we are off! By the end of week two we already had three run throughs of our show. The early stages of rehearsals are like the preliminary sketches before a painting. A light and delicate trace of what will be the final product. After some investigative table work, where we discussed timeline, family history, narcotics anonymous, recovery and the technicalities of virtual worlds, we got up on our feet. There is always an uncomfortable and awkward space while we are still holding scripts in our hands. Walking around the space and attempting to reach the emotional and mental states of our respective characters all the while remembering where to move a bench or chair. Then there is the freedom when you walk out, with the exciting panic of leaving your script at the table.

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A castmate shared with me the 6 steps of creativity and I decided to write them in my script as a reminder. It’s amazing how within one rehearsal we can experience all 6 steps and more… sometimes we stay on a certain step for longer than others. This fluidity is what attracts me to this profession. It’s a living breathing process that demands change and suffers in comfort. No matter how confident I feel after being cast in a role, rehearsing a scene or performing a show, I know that these creative steps are essential to keep my process fresh.

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During the first week of rehearsal I finished reading the other two plays that are part of a trilogy written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. She was inspired to write about her cousin Elliot Ortiz, a Marine who served in Iraq. In an article by Rob Weinert-Kendt in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival members magazine he writes:

***In the spring of 2004, she (Hudes) took a break from a playwriting festival at South Coast Repertory in Southern California to visit Elliot Ortiz, her 18-year-old cousin from her hometown of Philadelphia. Ruiz had just returned to Camp Pendleton after six months as a Marine in Iraq, were a severe leg injury sidelined him…”I just saw something slightly changed in his eyes,” … On the plane ride, home she realized she’d have to write about that troubling moment.***

Water by the Spoonful won the Pulitzer Prize for drama 2012. All three plays are brilliant, deep, imaginative and touching. What I find most impressive about the trilogy is the music that inspires each piece. The first “Elliott: A Soldier’s Fuge,” was framed with the Bach preludes and fuges in mind. The second is “Water by the Spoonful,” where the jazz music of Coltrane, specifically “A Love Supreme” and “Ascension” accompany the themes in the story. In the final play “The Happiest Song Plays Last” there is an enveloping presence of the traditional music of Puerto Rico.

Her language is rich and reading all three of the plays have been an essential tool in reaching the roots of these characters and the history and potential of each world she has created.

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In the middle of week two we took out our fine tooth combs and magnifying glasses. We focused on the fine details of each act and focusing our attention to the musicality, the ups and downs, the connection and disconnection of each relationship. We began polishing our movements and dealing with costume pieces and props. Now in our third week we have moved into the theatre and are deep into the tech process. Late nights in the dark, beautiful theatre, lights, sound, projections, costume changes….the magic continues!

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