Archive for May, 2008

Disclaimer: More on some of the objects in the title than others. In fact, the only thing you can really count on is persiflage.

Jefferson City, Missouri, March 6:

I remember feeling less ill by the time we drove to Missouri, because I also remember being irate. The latter condition was due to the March 4th primaries having taken place on the day previous (when we performed Taming of the Shrew in Monmouth, Illinois) to our drive date. Even at the time I knew I was unreasonably grumpy about their outcome, as I went around kicking inanimate objects; who am I, I thought to myself, to have put up with seven years of Bush Bullshit, to the point where the mere shapes of his face incite a kind of Pavlovian response of fury, to be so cross about the outcome of a primary between two people I basically like? But it was still good for me that we spent those days in two states that voted for Obama. I would be unlikely to vent my rage on anything besides hotel rubbish bins, anyway, but I was probably happier as a result of our location.

We performed Merchant of Venice for an audience of which about half was a sizeable group of home-schooled high school students, arrayed in the finest dress. I know that sounds like the kind of thing that would happen in a Wacky Actor Dream, but they were actually all wearing ball gowns. Except for the boys, who wore the dressed-up-high-school-male equivalent. They were a wonderful audience in every way, which helped assuage our insecurities stemming from the fact that they looked considerably nicer than we did. And I don’t think there are even any apocryphal Equity rules about performing for an audience that looks nicer than you do, anyway, as I’m told there are for performing for an audience smaller in number than the cast. Probably, in Shakespeare’s day, people sitting on the gallant stools were more spectacularly arrayed than the cast, so we were lucky to have this historical and humbling experience. (The English Major can justify ANYTHING! Especially if it means giving scope to more verbiage.)

It was an excellent show (you, dear reader, no doubt think I don’t remember it, but I do); I recall that Josh, Raffi and Chris Johnston all gave outstanding performances. Chris Seiler was also even more excellent than usual, and he sets himself a high bar in that regard. He was trying out a lot of new things in the Courtroom Scene, and he brought me along with him to such a degree that I muffed up the pause in “Tarry a little…there is something else” that we’ve worked approximately 85,000 times in fight calls across the country. This line comes right after Shylock lunges at Antonio with the knife, and the pause is worked in so that a) Bassanio can do his action hero “NOOOO” as he slides in front of Antonio, b) Gratiano and Salerio can apprehend Shylock and relocate him to a more non-Antonio locale on the floor upstage and c) Shylock can vocally express his frustration at being pulled away from the object of his goal 0.7 seconds before he was finally about to achieve it. In this particular performance, however, I was so tied up in the emotion of the moment that I simply yelled, “Tarry a little there is something else!” right on top of items a, b, and c. I am by no means proud that this happened, because whilst I believe it is the purpose of our vocations as actors to BE in the emotional place of our characters, it’s our JOB to make sure the technical moments are clean. (Aforementioned dear reader may, however, be able to level at my affection for the elements of an actor’s work according to my description.) However, I blame Chris Seiler. If he hadn’t been so good, I wouldn’t have gotten so riled up.

After the show, we had a talkback, for which there were fewer attendees than people in the cast. (If there’s an Equity rule about that, this is the moment when I confess that it’s really all in the realm of the theoretical as the tour is completely non-union.) Our formally-bedecked home-schooled friends could not stay for the talkback, thus dispossessing us of a significant portion of the audience in one fell Shakespeare-coined swoop. They shook hands with us, however, as we sat down on stage for the talkback, offering us thanks and kind compliments; it felt kind of like being in the receiving line at a wedding, though I have to qualify my simile by noting that I have only ever been in the receiving line at a wedding on a TV show, so maybe it bears no resemblance to that actual experience.

Me in a receiving line in Showtime's Brotherhood

Here is a picture of me in a wedding receiving line in Showtime’s ‘Brotherhood.” I shamelssly stole this picture from my own website.

I spoke to one very kind home-schooled young woman who looked extraordinarily like the lovely girl who played the lead in the recent PBS Northanger Abbey, and I told her so; afterwards, one of the chaperones told me that it was a little unknown kindness that I had a conversation with the girl, since her mother had just died. It broke my heart to realise; I wish I had a greater thing to give her. I imagine this is the sort of thing that happens to actual important people, like our currently-campaigning politicians, all the time—they meet people so briefly, but their stories can truly stick with them. I couldn’t tell you a single question that was asked of us at the following talkback, but I remember that girl so clearly—I don’t even know her name—but I think of her, and hope the best for her. The world: life: it is too broad a thing for the mind to swallow.

In Entertainment News (as if, indeed, a blog about touring is anything else), the motel in which we were staying also owned a movie theatre, and we could get vouchers to go to films for free. The selection was not extensive, but I think we all took advantage of it at some point. Raffi surprised everyone by actually liking I Am Legend, which was not showing the night I opted to go to our home theatre. A group of us, instead, went to a movie theatre a considerable distance away to see 10,000 BC, or whatever it was called, and I rather wonder what possessed us. Well, I know: I was lured by promise of beasts and battles and was instead horrified by extraneous amounts of stupid love story, which was absurd to the point of actual laughter. The movie was only saved from being the worst movie I’ve ever seen by the fact that I saw Van Helsing in college, lured at that time by the promise of relevance to some points of interest to the English Romantics. Let it speak for 10,000 that I am not sure which of the purported enticements for these two movies was the more misguided, and Van Helsing was so awful that I left the theatre vowing to my friends that they simply MUST have meant it as some kind of farce, because no one intentionally makes a movie that terrible. My friends pointed out that I needed to see more movies for bad-movie context, but sweet biscuits, if it wasn’t a farce I think I rather need to see FEWER.

In Food News, Dan and I went to a Chinese Restaurant that we thought was going to be unpleasant and then was actually quite good. We lit upon it because it was the only thing in downtown Jefferson City that we found open after (I think) nine.

For talking about food as often as I do, I make a poor food critic. It’s a good thing I have something else in line a career. ‘Timely Blogger’ surely isn’t one of them, either, but I think that post is even less lucrative than that of ‘Actor.’


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