08 March 2007


It's funny. Chris Kipiniak's Spider-Man debut? It's funny. I can't tell if it's funnier because I know Chris, and can hear his voice in it, but that only matters to those of you who don't know him, so I don't really care. Does this dissuade you from picking up a copy? Oh shoot. My blatant nepotistic promotion has backfired. Well, suppose I told you there was an interesting error in the publishing of this comicbook? It may never come to anything that would make the book valuable, I suppose. Unless Chris' career takes off, that is.

In the final moments of the final confrontation between Spidey and the Circus of Death, embedded in one of the funniest captioned frames ("Meanwhile, up above.... Remember? The guy on the trapeze?") are two frames in which the dialogue and the character's expressions are switched. When the evil acrobat's face is contorted with concentration, he says, "Oops." When it's pale with fear, he says, "Almost...got..."

Last night I had another rehearsal of A Lie of the Mind, still reeling a bit from head cold and the necessary medication. It was a mess for me. I would shift between congested retardation and loopy impulse-control difficulties. It got to be very frustrating to me, trying to push past this wall of mucus to make good work. Every choice I made rang false to me, range falser and flat, and I could never be sure if it was because I was making such poor choices, or if I just couldn't feel the right reverberations.

Working out of order as we are, to accommodate everyone's schedules, one of the last scenes of the evening we worked on was the first in which my character, Frankie, is introduced to the family of his sister-in-law. In said scene, he's just been shot through the thigh, and he has very little dialogue to express a variety of things: pain, anger, shock, fear, confusion. More difficult still, his intention in the scene is bizarrely structured. It's rather achieved within the first moments he arrives in the room, and thereafter he merely fights for his own freedom . . . poorly. It was going to be tricky, and I knew it. The only thing an actor can do, past any preparation, in this circumstance is to jump in. I did.

And started making mistakes left and right.

Which worked great. It turns out, having a head cold is pretty excellent base material for emulating the symptoms of shock, which is rather the key to the strangeness of the scene. The character is slipping out of reality, but fighting it all along, struggling against himself to achieve what he's already achieved. He's getting no feedback, or at least none that he can understand and interpret.

It's tricky for me to embrace ignorance, or to relish "not knowing." It was one of the biggest lessons I came away from Italy with last June. And yes, it's one of those lessons I keep learning over, and over, and over again. I'll probably never get it naturally. So for those of you who know me: be patient. Someday I'll be able to admit just how little I know. Think of how much I'll be able to learn then.


Patrick said...

I have had some of my best rehearsals and auditions when I was just exhausted enough that my censors were too much trouble, but not so exhausted that I couldn't function. Remind me to tell you sometime of an audition I had while one of my molars was dying.

Jeff Wills said...

Molars can die? Remind me to tell you how gross that is!

Anonymous said...

RE: Tricky to relish in the "not knowing"...."Do I contridict myself? Very well then, I contridict myself."

Jeff Wills said...

Indeed, Anonymous. In deed. To put it another way: "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

Melissa said...

Late as always, but still needed to put in a cent or two -
I have found that it depends on the work, but certainly the work that you could fail miserably at should you over think it BECAUSE it does exist IN you- that is the work that is best when you are tired sick and just plain needing to force focus from every pore.

Aerial work however does NOT fall (ahem) into that category. Rested and aware works much better at 30ft in the air. Personal preference.

ok. thats all I'm done.

Jeff Wills said...

Discounting, of course, the natural selection at work in all aerial dance. I believe Darwin said it best when he wrote, "Similar to the Dodo, aerialists who practice when they are tired or sick pretty much deserve what they get."