Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Hill to Climb...

So, I just found out my director wants me off book for our run on Monday.

I'm a little stressed by this.

It's not like I haven't started, I have. I actually did scene one last night off book, with a few stumbles. It's simply a matter of looking at the calendar, and then looking at what I have to get in my head. When you first approach it, it always feels and looks like a huge job.

The other problem is, I've been feeling woefully out of practice with this sort of thing. Like I've said, the last year and a half to two years has not been kind to me, in terms of shows and casting. I haven't had to do this anywhere near as much as I did three or four years ago. It's hard to explain, but it does make you rusty.


Well, I am getting older, and there are times when I cannot remember like I used to. Now, I'm not saying I've got Alzheimer or something, but it is harder than it was just a few years ago. Things used to slip in to my head pretty easily, hell, in college I never "studied" lines...I'd just know 'em from rehearsing.

...Of course, I never had a role of any appreciable size in college.

The last show I did Sun, Stand Thou Still, I had moments of sheer panic on stage because I literally couldn't remember what was coming next. It usually worked out OK, but...not perfect. Not something I am proud of. Nothing in the world worse than being in front of an audience and knowing you don't know what you're supposed to say. Horrendous, the feeling. I hate it. I hate it more than anything.

It's not just that I look like an ass, it's that I've let down the whole team, and the audience. What's really horrifying is that it's a thing you can't really control. Every, single actor has lost their lines, "gone up," on stage. At some point, or another, it's happened to all of us. You never see it coming, either, because (at least if you're doing it right) you're living in the moment, and not thinking about what comes next, but listening and reacting.

We all know that question, "how do you remember all those lines?" The truth is, we don't, but we still do. It's an amazing, mystical thing. A work of faith and preparation. You literally try to create Pavlovian responses to the words you are hearing. Not only just with the words you say back, but in the emotional responses, as well.

But when it works...there really is no high like it. "Taking Flight," as Jeff Green used to call it. I'm struck by what an apt description that truly is. When a scene, a show is truly going well, I have a palpable sense of leaving the ground. Of stepping outside myself. I can see what I am doing and saying, I feel completely connected to it, but my conscious mind, "Mark," has released his control. The character is in charge, and I'm just riding along.

But that takes a lot of prep work...

So, between now and Monday...You see a lot of me with my nose in my script.

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