01 March 2007
Needs Must, when the Coffee Drives
I was so groggy for rehearsal last night. How groggy was I? I was so groggy that I was actually angry with myself for not being more in-the-room because I was so groggy but too groggy to even allow that anger to focus into something useful to rehearsal, on account of all my grogginess. It doesn't help, of course, that Ripley Grier Studios have the stuffiest little rooms on the Isle of Manhattan. It also didn't help that I opted last night--as I had the night before--to go in sans caffeination. That worked out two nights ago, when I was psyched (read: anxious) to jump back in to The Torture Project, but last night the magic had fled. Indeed, at this very very moment, The Torture Project feels a bit like an old marriage. Sunday mornings, decaf in bed, the paper. "Honey, can you pass me the Ideological Ranting section? Thanks. Oo, let's remember to get out to the Home Depot today to buy some duct tape."
Actually, it's a bit more like the marriage in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, what with all the torture and lies. Could do with a bit more sex. Though last night, too, we had what I believe was only our second actual on-stage kiss. It was hot; personally damaging and inappropriate (scenically, that is), but hot. One participant in this kissage was a Mr. Joe Varca, best known for his appearance in last Fringe Festival's smash hit, I Was Tom Cruise, and who is being utilized as a sort of doppelganger (Blogger, have not you an umlaut shortcut?) to my character in this show, owing to the shocking similarity of appearance we apparently share. For the first time, that damn mirror bit from the Marx Brothers would be interesting to watch. I've had to try and do that bit in at least three different shows. I'm sick of it. I'm afraid beginning to feel similarly toward this show we've all been working on for the past two years now.
It will change. When we have to present what we have again on Monday, I'll be anxious and excited and "psyched" as all get-out. But this is a development, this waning interest in open collaboration on the show, the which it's good for me to acknowledge. I'm growing impatient, which I don't believe to be a factor of time, but rather an indication that I'm beginning to feel as though we're spinning our wheels a bit. The director has talked a lot about taking more personal control and determining whose story this is, what voice(s) tells it and what kind of story it will be. I hope she makes these choices soon, right or wrong, because it influences a lot and gives (pun unintended) direction to the whole piece. Basic questions, like: Is it a memory play? Is it magical realism? Are we aiming to provide answers? Will we eventually make millions of dollars in royalties?
The work last night was also good, but with more off-the-cuff assignments divided (with all those deviser-actors) into shorter segments. One of the prepared pieces that we didn't get to two nights ago was brilliant--a series of six monologues from different residents of Bethel, Ohio (where our scene is set), including a sixty-year-old man and a twenty-three-year-old boy. And a caricature of our director. The performer was referencing The Laramie Project in this, but had no idea. She's never seen it. My impromptu assignments last night were to play Jake teaching his sister Nic the casualty terms that were a part of my piece last night, and to create a series of tableau of the supposed execution of my character with the actress who plays the "torturer" and our do-it-all designer. Kelly and I melded the quiz scene with a scene we already have of us in a car, quizzing her on flower meanings, as though it were a dream she's having, and ended it with, K-"Are you alive or dead?" J-"I don't know." That one worked well. The second we couldn't quite get the effect we wanted with what we had. Our idea was to show three poses from the video (Jake kneeling in front of a hole, Jake standing with his head turned slightly to the left and Jake shot on the ground) then give three progressively closer shots--as if they were expanded--of the left side of Jake's jaw, which is the only part of the supposed Maupin video that lends itself to personal identification. Tricky to do without proper lights and a soundboard.
To think: For the past five years, this time of year has always found me working hard on ecstatic comedy.
Tonight, instead of TP rehearsal (Laurie is off workshopping with Moises for three days [How's that for name-dropping?]) I have acrobalance at Friend Kate's loft. Tonight with jugglers! It will be a welcome respite. Send in the clowns, you bastards. Send in the clowns...