16 February 2009
But Soft, What Paycheck Through Yonder Window is Cut...?
My very awfully busy week last week was every bit as awfully busy as I had imagined. Rewarding, but not in the material sense, as most of the payment I'll receive for said work will take its saccharine-sweet time in getting to me. This I'm afraid is standard practice for the teaching artist (largely what I was, apart from Romeo Montague, last week) which is all-too ironic, teaching artists being folks that generally need the money rather immediately. I don't do what I do for money's sake -- obviously -- but there are times when one needs it more than others, and now is such a time for this guy. As I tried to impart in one of my workshops this week: Work is not a job unless it pays, and a job is not a career unless you are working. But let's assume the institutions will not fall apart completely before I get my checks, and focus on the work. The work is what this branch of my 'blogging is about, after all.
Tuesday was a workshop for the Electric Theatre Company's Griffin Conservatory, one in acrobalance. However, my usual teaching partner (my Juliet Capulet) sprained her calf and got a cold in one fell swoop over the weekend, and I was stuck trying to teach partner balancing without being able to demonstrate it. This turned out all right, though, as I had only two students show up and was able to modify the class to a general "physical acting" one, with some balance and tumbling instruction. So for three hours, on the padded floor of our R&J set, we three cavorted and grew together a bit. It was the most remedial class I'd taught in a long while, which was actually very nice. It reminded me of how much there is to appreciate in the smallest or most intuitive of movements.
Wednesday was a two-show day, our first, and due to a faulty calendar I managed to schedule my career workshop at Marywood right between the two. For a while I was nervous about this, as my central theme would have to be, "Do better than I have." But I learned from the students, who requested some further coverage of acrobalance (I've teased them with it here and there over the last couple of years) and that I talk about In Bocca al Lupo. So I called it "Finding Balance," and tried to combine physical activity with discussions about balancing a professional life with a creative one in the theatre. In essence, I was putting this here 'blog on its feet, and I ended up feeling that it went rather well. It's still a fledgling workshop, to be sure, but with a little more organization and some more concrete material I could see myself running it other places. At any rate, the students seemed to get good information out of it, and definitely enjoyed themselves. I like combining thought and action. Feels like acting!
Thursday and Friday, Heather and I choreographed fights for North Pocono High's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was in itself a kind of workshop, involving as it did students who'd never done any physical theatre at all. Marywood has an up-coming Midsummers coming up too, and it's awfully fun to be surrounded by these shows whilst doing R&J; popular opinion has it that Shakespeare created them in close conjunction with one another. For North Pocono, we spent all of Thursday teaching stage combat basics, then taught them specific choreography the next day. We had just enough time to do it all, at that, and had to rely on their note-taking and diligence hereafter for any hopes of it sticking. The four actors were wonderfully focused, though, and we would have failed had they not been. Overall, I'm very happy with the work we did. We taught them funny, story- and character-based choreography, and we did it right, without skimping on technique and safety.
Which makes it rather ironic that I got PWN3D by Paris in our fight for Saturday night's performance.
The performances went fine this week, though we had considerably smaller audiences across the board compared to our preview, pay-what-you-can nights last week. I came to feel quite a bit more at home in Romeo this week, and truly, even the quiet audiences seemed to get a lot out of the show (I usually disdain that "they were quiet, but really attentive" excuse for bad shows -- these I do not think were those). I had a big week for visitors; my parents came Friday night, and Wife Megan and Friend Patrick saw it both Saturday, and for Sunday's matinee. This is the first Zuppa show Patrick's been able to catch, which made it an absolute thrill for me. Sunday morning the director thought that these audience members might be part of the reason my performance was the way it was. He said it was a very good show, but that I was just this close to playing more for myself than for Romeo; nearly showing off, to put a finer point on it. He asked me to just be careful, and relax.
So the past couple of days have had a cherry a-top my gradually built sundae of doubt about continuing as I have with Zuppa del Giorno. No conclusions as yet, but me, I am a'thinkin' . . .
But the real news! I got punched! In the eye! Yes, in our climactic battle, I accidentally got a shiner from one Conor McGuigan; and yes, I'm sorta proud. I don't think I've ever had a black eye before and, in spite of speaking in verse at the time, this one was pretty Fight Club-y. The move was a down punch to the face, where I am kneeling and he stands over me. Among his other virtues, Conor's got bony knuckles, and at least one of them connected with my brow that night. The effect is rather like my left eyelid is stuck in a Boy George video -- lovely, deep purples, but only on the lid. A little concealer does the trick for shows, and now I get to make up stories about what a tough/hilariously clumsy guy I am.
It made for good conversation in my audition today. I hadn't planned on returning to New York these days off, but got a call V-day about auditioning for a Lexis-Nexis web spot and decided to shell out for the bus ticket again. It was quite an out-of-the-blue opportunity; I was plucked from the casting files of one Lisa Milinazzo, but for the life of me, I can't remember what, if any, connection we share. The bad news is that the filming dates conflict with the final shows of R&J, and are thereby impossible for me, but the good is that the audition went great. I seem to get these opportunities to play straight-faced businessmen that are actually funny and run with them. This was another case in which they asked me to improvise around the script and loved what I came up with. (I really, really need to parlay this type into some live show that will get me noticed by agentry.) Casting people for The Office, please note: I am your guy in spades. I even know Scranton! Come on!
I'm looking forward to this final week of the show being rather more relaxed. Even our two-show Thursday should seem a breeze, compared to last Wednesday. My first order of business upon returning to Scranton tomorrow will be to attend a rehearsal of Marywood's A Midwinter Night's Dream, which I'm very much looking forward to (their actual performances conflict with ours). Then I hope to spend my days getting resumes out for the next gig, 'blogging more, and beginning the first revision process on Hereafter. That's not exactly relaxed, I guess. But it sounds wonderful . . .