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

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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