Becoming Gloria

Now that the lines are starting to come out fluently (emphasis on starting to) and the blocking is pretty much set in my head (emphasis on pretty much), the process of becoming Gloria is reaching the stage of focusing on details; finding the little things that make Gloria the glorious person she is.

I’ve always found this part of acting most interesting and fun, when the practicalities are not bothering you anymore. With becoming Gloria, this part is especially challenging though, since there are a few key characteristics that make us so different. No, I am not unfortunately talking about her attention seeking tendencies or the underlying bitchiness. I don’t have to dig very deep to find source material for those :).

The challenge is to find the older woman and especially the mother in me. With becoming old its more about the physical things – how does an older woman talk, how does she walk, how does she sit etc. For these things I have found observing (almost like stalking, but not quite) people at eg. public transport very useful. However, figuring out how much does being a mother affect your personality as a whole and in what ways, is trickier.  How much does being a mother define you, especially when you don’t have any other profession? As you will soon see on stage, there is also a clear difference between how Gloria treats her son and her daughter. Why does she do that? Finding the answers to these kinds of questions is more about who Gloria is on the inside, and that’s what makes it tricky. It is also essential to have thought about these things, so that Gloria feels real, which is my ultimate goal.

A little while back, we had a character development session, in which we began figuring out the answers to these kinds of questions together. A lot of things became clearer to me, but there is still some thinking work to be done. For the end result, you just have to wait until the shows in April :).

That's my line!

For the past couple of weeks our actors have been rehearsing 'off book', which means they think they know their lines. Or, at least, they assure the director that they know them.

I then am tasked with being 'on book', which means I keep them on an even keel when they think they have lost it. I have to say though they aren't losing it all that much, which is great. We even seem to be over the phase of me being eyeballed by the actors during a scene as I will, inevitably, look up at the person in question when they are late coming in with their line. It seems my head movements are a brilliant cue for lines- but my head will not be available to give line cues during performances so I am slowly weaning them all off it.

As always happens with plays when lines are becoming more familiar during rehearsals, we all develop our favourite quotes. This is happening to me at the moment as there are many hilarious one liners in the script. The only downside , for me, to the actors knowing their lines so well is that they call on me for a line less and less- and so the chances of me being able to say my favourite lines are also becoming less and less. There is one in particular that I am dying to be called for but I guess you'll just have to come see the play to try and figure out which one it is ;-)

Who's on first?

One of the problems of amateur theatre is that people have lives outside the play. I know, inconsiderate or what? So rehearsals have to be scheduled around people's work and family commitments. We cast this play a bit on the late side – yes, I still class a week before the start of rehearsals as 'a bit' – which meant that some people had already made commitments for February.

After much cursing and comparing of spreadsheets, I finally had a rehearsal schedule in front of me – only to realise that I would not get the whole cast together until mid-March...

We survived the first month with random people reading in for whichever cast member was absent that day. Luckily, usually just the one – although a different one each time. By the end of February, even I was starting to forget whom I'd cast where.
At times, it felt like I was directing a zany romp by the Marx Brothers or Albert & Costello. When someone did in fact ask, 'Who's on first?', it was only with great restraint that I did not reply, 'Yes'.

And then, when everyone was finally scheduled to be together, we encountered the next 'minor hitch', as Milton would term it. That is, however, a topic for a whole other post, so I'll leave you in suspense until then...

But for the detectives among you, here's a snap from that rehearsal. Now whatever is going on here?


It’s a girl thing!

It's always good to get a mention for the show in the press, even if it's not the main story!

Helsinki Times - 8th March 2012

(Click for full size)

The Greatest Love of All...

Learning to love your character... Well, that's what's happening to me. This week, we're doing character work. Zoë gave us all a list of things to think about. Main personality traits? Parents? Major past events in life? Hobbies?

Meredith, the bride-to-be's bossy, socially slightly inept, possibly autistic colleague who claims the role of bridesmaid... Well, the truth is, I love her to bits. I think I did from the word go.

Why? I think she's the only healthy female in the play. She has boundaries and she's very clear about them. Yet she's able to bend those boundaries when necessary. A person who knows what she likes and doesn't like, what she wants and what she's willing to put up with, is a wonderful thing.

And she is always "100 per cent honest". Some of my fellow actors say she's "rude". I just think she's a bit unaware of social rules or then she simply chooses to ignore them because she's never been too good at sussing out situations anyway. She's incredibly tolerant of other people's idiosyncracies - although she will point them out immediately. And don't get her started on cheese. Other than that, she's a lovely gal.

Moreover, I'm guessing she's sexy. In a weird, nerdy, dominating way. She knows how to get guys. She's realistic and straightforward. She's not so good at making friends and dancing that little dance we call female friendship, however...

But, as with everything she takes on, she is determined to get female friendship and the whole bridesmaid business right.

Oh, and she bases her ideas of what people do in given situations on what she's seen in movies. In that, we are very similar.

Press Play

I have been writing music for the Players for a few years now and every production presents its own set of challenges and problems. I am immensely proud of some of the work I have done, and intensely embarrassed about some of the other pieces - but it is always fun, and always a learning process.

Today I sent Zoë a demo for a piece that actually has very little musical content, it is mostly made up of loud samples, some archive radio and me pretending to be warning some aerial chums. You have no idea what I am on about, do you?

All will become clear. Now I have to get back to some generic trance.

Live tetris

Live tetris

There was far more space in my head. The chairs were a lot smaller in my diagram – and the actors didn’t have inconsiderate sticky-outie things, such as elbows.

After measuring and marking out the area of the stage in the rehearsal space – and then filling it with set, props and actors – I realised one very important thing: size might not be everything, but with this stage, we’re going to have to work hard!

As our five-and-a-half-hour rehearsal motored on, trying to realise the blocking I had envisioned in my head became more and more like a game of live Tetris. The blocks kept falling, but the gaps were suddenly the wrong shape – or already filled with actors and their silly elbows – and time was running out…

When we eventually reached the last page, I was so relieved that I forgot we’d started a bit later than usual and accidentally let the cast go half an hour early. Don’t worry – that won’t be happening again!