I'm always with someone who knows more than I do. (Everyone knows something I don't.)
But, now, in this experience, I am surrounded by people who are much more experienced than I am.
A Freshman At the Senior Dance
That's how a participant in an improvisation training recently put it. "I so often feel," she said, "like I'm a freshman at the senior dance."
That's how I feel.
And I'm going to feel it big, right through this Saturday night's performance at the Riffe Center.
One night only. Tickets will be sold at the door (or in advance here). It's a great play and we will fully stage it (although we will be carrying our scripts).
Meet the Seniors
I'm not the youngest person on stage (unless age = cumulative time, life-to-date, acting on stage).
Consider the formidable talents:
- Geoffrey Nelson, founding Artistic Director, CATCO
- Jeanine Thompson, Associate Professor, OSU Department of Theatre
- and magnificent AVLT Company Members Elena Perantoni and Acacia Duncan.
The play will be directed by well-loved actor Ian Short, also known for his direction of Available Light’s Our Town, The Odd Couple, and To Kill A Mockingbird.
So Why Is This Different?
In all the other plays throughout my alleged acting career, there has always been someone beside me on stage — someone — who has less experience acting than I do.
Frankly, I've quietly thought, "Anytime I'm the most experienced actor on stage, the show is in trouble."
That's not happening on Saturday. These rehearsals have been unbelievably eye opening. Everyone around me is more than an actor. Each one is a theatre teacher, too.
My character — the most complex character I've ever played — has a strange stage direction in the script. I don't know what to do.
So, late last night, I sent a note to Geoff Nelson (who plays "James") asking him what to do. I broke a rule. It's bad form to ask another actor for direction. (That's the director's job.) But I'm in a learning mode and wanted to hear what the other guy on stage might say.
So I asked:
Hey, Geoff, this probably breaks all the rules (not that I know any), but next time I see you would you please demonstrate (from page 45) what you think it might look like when "Schultz convulses in horrible, strained, silent laughter"?
Here is his answer. (Ethical malfeasance alert: I don't have Geoff's permission to post this. There isn't time. I should not post it. I apologize in advance, which is not a true apology. It isn't fair. Geoff didn't prepare this for public viewing.)
But consider how excellently he wrote this in the late night. If you aren't an actor or director you might not appreciate how he does not tell me how to do it. (That would be too much intervention.) He simply teaches — correctly — where I should be spending my energy to "convulse" in the "horrible, strained, silent laughter."
Geoff's answer, unedited, beautiful as it is:
Isn't that marvelous? In Geoff's hands — and the others on the cast and crew are equally gifted teachers — this is a truly teachable moment.
I'm sorry for posting Geoff's comments without his permission. I will seek it today.
Go ahead. Come, spur of the moment!