19 November 2008

The Rest is (Remaining) Silence


{This entry is a continuation of 11/18/08...}

So Friend Patrick and I met and rehearsed for about three hours last night, after I got off of work. I'm not at all sure I can properly call what we did "rehearsal," at least insofar as my part of it went. Patrick is farther along on his process for the upcoming performances (starting Friday, starting FRIDAY) so we spent much of his time in the space doing character exploration and discussing possible adaptations to his "I propose a toast..." piece. It's really interesting stuff, actually. This is a piece I've seen him do a few times, and he's interested in getting it better adapted to the stage (it's normally performed at events, particularly ones involving drinks). This is almost exactly what I was aiming to do the last time I performed solo clown work (see 5/28/08). I don't want to write too much about Patrick's work here without his consent, of course. You'll just have to attend to see the results!

As to my process, last night it mostly consisted of me talking a blue streak whilst occasionally putting ideas on their feet (my feet?). In fact, it must have been a little like watching a five-year-old for dear Patrick. You know when a little kid pulls you into a room and says he's going to put on a show for you, and he has gathered some puppets, but you quickly begin to get the suspicion that not a whole lot of table sessions and research went into his so-called "play"? Yeah. Like that. For an hour. It was reminiscent of the process behind some of our more rushed Zuppa del Giorno shows, too. When we had to get a show ready in a hurry for our last trip to Italy (see 5/30/08), everything was done out-of-joint. We had a title first, we developed some acrobalance moves, we figured out our story, we returned to the acro and found we couldn't do it anymore, for some reason I still don't comprehend, we ended up choreographing one of the most satisfying sections the day before we premiered it . . . you get the idea. And in spite of all this, the process can not be rushed. Let me emphasize this slightly: THE PROCESS CAN NOT BE RUSHED. You are where you are in the process, no matter what sequence it takes, nor how urgent your need is to "complete" it.

Which can be a bitch sometimes.

What I knew going into last night's "rehearsal" (man -- the sarcastic quotation marks are really flying in this entry -- sure sign of insecurity) was the title I had already provided Melissa, Whoopsie Daisy, and the program blurb I also sent her way. Note that I have definitely cultivated a skill in well-structured description that nonetheless promises nothing:

"Lloyd Schlemiel is new in town. Actually, he doesn't remember how he got here at all. There was a flicker of the light, a rattling noise (like some old machine whirring to life), and here he is. Also: He doesn't wear hats. Who wears hats anymore? Please bear with him. He's got a lot to learn."
Bully. What I had to dump into this whole Whoopsie Daisy assignment I rather gave myself was a few solo performances, only one of which took place on a stage, a partial clown screenplay, and whatever I can come up with between now and then. So where does one begin?

Well, I began with completely freaking out. That's often a good starting point. It provides a whole lot of false starts and bad ideas, and that's good. No really; it is. There's no faster progress to be made than that which results from big, multitudinous mistakes. So trying to find a special type of ladder, only to find it wasn't going to work for the show, then spending over an hour trying to resolve video issues on my computer Monday night . . . that was all necessary to catapult me into what would prove more useful. So I believe, and so I keep reminding myself when the panic sets in again. What I gathered instead for my work with Patrick were as many hats as I had, and some prop items with which I was simply curious about playing. Throughout my work-filled day, I contemplated several different approaches to take to creating action, including entertaining for some time the (fortunately, ultimately abandoned) notion of using a day-job-ish environment somehow.

By the time I was journeying from work to dinner, I realized I could lean more heavily on the ideas I'm using for the screenplay than I had previously thought. I knew I wanted to tell a story of transformation, and I had some ideas about how this could be accomplished in a theatrical setting. (It helps, very much, that I'm quite familiar with the West End Theatre.) In short, I suddenly felt like I had it all figured out. Yep, I've written this story already, in fact. No worries. None at all.

Of course, this is why rehearsal is so important: It shows us how little we truly know. Maybe mid-way into my descriptive rant at Patrick, it became clear to me that I had a long way to go. Yes, I want to tell a story about transformation, and yes I've given some thought to that already, and yes I have stock bits to use. BUT: I need a through-line, I need a central action, I need, I NEED! We made some progress on pursuing these things, but over the next two (TWO!) days, I need to hustle, and keep the ideas coming.

I can't rush the process. What I can do, is make sure I give it every single moment of my time, waking and sleeping.

8 comments:

walkinhomefromthethriftstore said...

Yesterday and today I've found myself thinking, "Man, I feel so sorry for the People of New York in this wind and cold, heh heh, suckers." But then I read your blog and I think, "Man I wish *I* could be in New York. Lucky audience people..." All the best with the non-rushed double-rush process!

Jeff Wills said...

That is the coolest compliment, WHFTTS. Thank you!

It is butt-cold here, though...

Patrick said...

Something weird just happened with a comment I left; I think a gremlin ate it. So, brief recap: what we both did on Tuesday was indeed rehearsal, no sarcastic quotation marks needed. Yes, the process cannot be rushed. I woke up this morning realizing I was a sweaty joyless mess as I worked on a piece that is about... enjoying life and not taking oneself too seriously. Oy.

Still gonna work my ass off today. Still resent having to do the day job tomorrow (seriously? This was how my week got arranged? What the hell?)... but it's all good.

You're my hero. Don't forget.

Jeff Wills said...

The feeling is completely mutual. When I came in on the end of your run yesterday, I loved the feeling of walking into that space again, and being able to just stand for a moment and watch you perform again. It feels very right.

Melissa said...

I am so a Somebody-Come-Lately on all of these comments - and maybe its for the best that I didn't know there was so much fear involved in the build towards our show! :-D

You are both my heroes. As we were performing last night as a team of artists with different styles but wonderfully complementary voices I KNEW it was so very right.

Jeff Wills said...

Me too, Melissa. I had forgotten how a feeling of right-ness permeated the sparsely attended "Excavations," years ago. We need to do work together again soon. Preferably, of course, with a bit more prep time...

Greg said...

My gosh, you're ALL my heroes, out there in the world actually DOING all this stuff...

I have the benefit of getting caught up on old blog posts and knowing last night's show went well (wish I could've been there to help fill up the house...plus I hear there were drinks after...), which is really no surprise: that you've made me a laugh a few times during these posts tells me you've not lost your sense of humor, which is SO key in succeeding at bloody ANYthing!

Jeff Wills said...

Thanks so much, Greg. And yes, sense of humor is critical to not just survival, but success. It's nice to have you laughing right along with us!