Archive for the 'rehearsal' Category

The Play Reading

Cranky just finished writing a play. I was invited to participate in a reading series and to have a new work read. Cranky didn’t have a new work, but said yes anyway and planned to just make one up.

A deadline is a great thing for a writer. Until, of course, the deadline comes. Cranky made up most of a play sitting on the couch in her living room. Went to places she had literally never gone before. Then it was four days until rehearsal and six days before the reading, and the ending just fell off a cliff. And let’s face it, you got no ending-you got no play. Or movie or TV show for that matter. I am still resentful that I lost so many hours of my life watching Lost. If it was all a dream go fuck yourself. So there I am. The ending hasn’t been cracked. I pace around, say a prayer and thank goodness get an idea. The next few hours I keep running to my computer to add things. I wake up the next morning and grab my computer and start typing before getting out of bed. The dog looks at me funny because Cranky has never done this before and dogs are all about routine.

The night before the rehearsal I send the completed script to the six actors. I am thrilled and love the play. The day of the rehearsal I wake up and I hate the play. I’m sure all the actors hate it too. Especially the one I am closest too, who asks me if I will have time to “talk about the play” after rehearsal. The phrase “talk about the play” will send any playwright into a paranoid tailspin. Especially Cranky. So I walk around all day in a panicked state. The thought crosses my mind that I hope there is an earthquake on Thursday so we won’t have to read the play. Or maybe I will have to perform an emergency C-Section on the play and completely rewrite it in one day. I’m sure that the fact that I wrote anything good in the past was a fluke. And that I will never write another play again. That I am not a writer at all. I’m like “Please, please where are the disasters when you need them? How about a little blackout on Thursday? That will do the trick.”

The actors arrive at rehearsal. They all look very happy to be there and enthusiastic. I am sure this is because they are good actors and they are just acting. Then we read through the play. It’s actually good. They are laughing. It’s the perfect combination of sad/funny funny/sad that I like. The rehearsal goes really really well. I’m still nervous about the “talk about the play” person. We go to a diner and she asks if she can change three words. Three words. And tells me it’s a great piece. The earthquake/blackout wish starts to fade.

But we’re talking about the wonderful world of theater were nothing is a sure thing. Ever. The night of the reading there is a full house in the event room of the restaurant hosting it. Before the performance I notice one of the actors downing glasses of Guinness. When he orders another I ask him if he can perform after drinking beer. “Oh sure,” he says.

Everybody is happy. The reading begins. The first scene comes off great. Then comes the second scene with Guinness guy. He is inaudible. I don’t mean a little bit. I mean you can’t hear him AT ALL. It looks like I stuck a mime in there with the speaking actors for experimental reasons. Cranky does not write experimental theater nor does she want to see it. I can’t explain the physical sensations of anxiety that are running through my body. I hired him because his girlfriend asked me if I had something for him. Cranky did it to be nice. And he was a child star on some television program and has been in a bunch of movies. All I can say is, “Dude, Hollywood is calling get the fuck off the stage.”

When it is over I apologize to everyone I know in the room. Some people liked it anyway. Most of them were sitting in the front row.

But alas, such is the way it goes sometimes in the world of a thespian. And when all is said and done, I have written a new play.

Not Another Student Film!

Cranky is doing her eight hundredth graduate school film this weekend. I figured graduate school – its gotta be good. They use Bob Giraldi’s DP and sound guy. I got the lead part. Sounds OK. Right?


“Oh yes. We have a producer and a wardrobe person and hair and makeup,” the director said. Love that. Love when they are taking care of the actors. I had great expectations.

Until the wardrobe person actually called. Four days before the shoot. Completely unintelligible.

The phone rings.

“Ah, hello. Is this Cwankery?” says the voice on the phone.

“Um, this is CRANKY,” I say.

“Oh, yes Cwankery this is Naohagalaga. You playing housekeeper. I need to get uniform,” she says.

“I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“No director say you need a uniform,” she says, “Housekeeper?”

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper”, I say.

“Do you know who is playing the lead?” she says.

“That would be me,” I answer.

“I need to get you uniform?” she says.

“But I’m not playing the housekeeper,” I say.

“Oh. Do you know who’s playing the housekeeper?” she asks.

“No,” I say, “Why don’t you ask the director.”

“Do you have the director’s phone number?” she asks.

This is a first. The wardrobe lady is asking me for the director’s phone number. Seriously.

Then I get a call from the director. I had agreed to go and have a few pictures taken with the guy playing my husband and the guy playing my son for photos around the house so he is calling to schedule that. It was fine with me until he wants me to go an hour into New Jersey by train to take the pictures. “Why can’t we do them in the city?” I ask. “Because the guy playing your husband can’t leave Jersey,” he says. “Why? I answer, “is he under house arrest? Does he have an ankle bracelet?”

Of course not. He doesn’t WANT to leave New Jersey. He is a friend of the director’s parents who has agreed to play my DEAD husband who has no lines in the film so of course he has more power than I do because who the hell can you get to play the dead husband with no lines and one flashback scene?

Then I get the shooting schedule from the previously unheard from producer. All the scenes are marked by scene numbers. But there are no scene numbers in the script, only page numbers. I can’t tell which scene is which and I am in every fucking one of them. I have a million different outfits to figure out and all Naohagalaga can do is buy a uniform. I email the producer to please send me a script using page numbers as there are no scene numbers on the script and she writes me back that she can’t change the script.


For this I am losing quality time with my dog?

Wish me luck.

PS – Of course after all this it came out fab. It is now one of my fav roles.

Opening Night Horrors

So opening night arrives. Or should I call it opening day? Because we have to be at the theater at 2pm to do our one and only tech and our one and only speed through on the actual stage before the curtain’s up.

I take the subway there and a person sitting opposite me on the train is reading “The Secrets of Mental Health.” I don’t know about you, but if I were reading that, I’d be putting a plain brown cover on that puppy. And if I had known what I was in for later, I would have her asked if I could borrow it.

I arrive at the theater. The cast is sitting around in the audience. The lead guy who is also the set builder is in an Italian t-shirt in a sweaty frenzy placing furniture on the stage and hammering supports to hold a door in place.

The stage manager is already having a meltdown. “THERE’S NO ONE HERE TO SHOW ME THE LIGHT BOARD! IT WAS IN MY CONTRACT THAT SOMEONE WOULD BE HERE WITH ME! THERE IS NO ONE HERE. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK THIS THING?” This is a show with like a million telephone ring cues. And a blackout.

So far the director is a no show. I repeat. The director is a NO SHOW!!

The stage manager comes down from the light booth. She lies in the floor in yogic child pose. “Can someone go and get me a beer? And don’t talk to me for the next hour.” A beer? Is that gonna help her figure out the light board?”

I’ve been here ten minutes and am asking myself, “WHY WHY WHY?”

Something looks weird to me about the stage. I go and sit in the audience and realize what it is. If you sit on the right side of the audience you cannot see the right side of the stage. The door has been placed downstage and almost in the center on a perfect angle to block all the action stage left. As luck would have it most of my action takes place stage left. No one has thought about sight lines. But you cannot be wielding a hammer and checking sight lines at the same time. This is where a director who SHOWS UP comes in handy. I am now thinking they need to change the name of the company to the FACHADICK COMPANY.

I ask Mr. Hammer, “Would you come over her for a minute?” He comes and sits next to me. “You can’t see half the stage,” I tell him. “Hmmm,” he says, “maybe we can move the furniture around a little.” Yeah, maybe if we tip the whole stage and all the furniture slides over to one side everything will work out perfectly.

“That’s not gonna help,” I say, “Most of my action takes place on that side of the stage. If you don’t care, I don’t either.” “Well, you’re in the play so you should be seen,” he says. Duh.

After a little back and forth with the ingénue who delivers two lines from the other side of the door and wants the audience to see her two lines, Italian t-shirt makes the call. “Well, most of the action happens on the stage, so I think we should see the stage,” he says.

We get to the speed through and I am like rattled, tired and tense so I blank TWICE. I mean like totally blank. I could have stood there for an hour and the line wouldn’t have come to me. This is some scary shit. We are opening in 90 minutes.

On my little break I go to the Westway Diner on Eighth Avenue. I sit in the booth. I put my head in my hands and say OUT LOUD, “Dear God Please Help Me!” And I am alone. I am alone and talking to myself. But Eighth Avenue is full of crazies so nobody cares. This is what the FACHADICK COMPANY has driven me to. I order soup. I can’t eat it. I order eggs. I figure it’s two mouthfuls and you get a lot of protein.

As I walk back to the theater I hear the death march in my head. DAH DAH DAH DUM DAH DAH DAH DAH DUM…

I go up to the dressing room. It is up two flights of fire escape stairs. The bathroom is in the basement. You have to walk down fly hallway to get there. Big flies, little flies, all kinda flies must be batted from your face to get to the toilet.

The dressing room isn’t air-conditioned. It is stifling and the ingénue asks that the fan be turned off because she has to flat iron her hair. I just love putting makeup on and then watching it melt off my face.

We begin. My first entrance I feel like and empty shell in sandal heels. “Pull it together,” I tell myself. I start getting it together. Then there is a scene when I am sitting on a loveseat and other cast members enter. The ingénue comes on and stands directly in front of me with her ass in my face. Her butt is literally an inch from my face. I have a choice. I can move and look like an actress who is aware of being upstaged, or I can stay. But I have to deliver a line. If I stay where I am and deliver my line is it gonna look like the ingénue is doing ventriloquism with her butt? To stay or to go? I stay and opt for the talking butt.

We get through it without any mishaps.

When I get to the theater the next day, the lead guy tells me he was out drinking until 4am. So when we do the show, he gets his lines twisted. For example, he is supposed to say, “What do you want?” And I answer, “What does anyone want? Sex, Love, etc…” But instead, his hangover leads him to say, “What can I do for you?” So I have to reply, “What could you do for me? What do I want? What does anyone want, etc…..”

But he IS a member of the FACHADICK COMPANY and they have to work hard to stay fachadick. He’s handsome and talented, but being a member of a company that just spews out plays that no one cares about hasn’t done him any favors. And I’m sure after the many years he has been doing theater it takes work to remain fachadick. But determined to be fachadick he is.

Acting Career Depends On Air Conditioner

I haven’t done theater in a while and I totally forgot about the horrors of opening night.

It started two days ago when I realized it was close. We were still looking at our scripts and calling “LINE!”   I was still grasping for when to enter and what line to say when I did enter.

I started having trouble sleeping. First, I had the super install the air conditioners. Then I had him come back the next day and switch them because I felt the den one was quieter then the bedroom one. Then I couldn’t sleep because I thought that one was too noisy. By the next morning I was in a state of nervous apoplexy and felt like my life depended on getting a new air conditioner immediately. If I didn’t get one I would get no sleep, totally screw up onstage, get a bad review and morbidly embarrass the nice guy who recommended me for the role.

This is a nervous transference thing that happens sometimes. My husband does the same thing. He once had a presentation the next day and became fixated that the medicine cabinet was going to fall off the wall. “We have to take everything out of the medicine cabinet!” He yelled. “It’s going to fall off the wall! I better remove the door off its hinges!” I knew what was really off its hinges, but I went along with it. After the presentation, the medicine cabinet was OK. So was my husband.

In my crazed state I got a friend from around the corner to go to J and R with me to buy one and a neighbor down the hall to help me put it in. I got the neighborhood involved. I couldn’t ask the super again because he already thought I was completely nuts. “Cranky come on!” he said when he had to switch them.

So after the air conditioner fixation there was nothing else to obsess about.

Then my acting teacher called me. “I understand you open tomorrow. How’s it going?” he said. This is a man who teaches at a university, teaches private classes and just lost his wife and is about to go to Europe (“Blow the country” is how he put it) to scatter his wife’s ashes in the Seine. And he remembered to call me the day before I open in a little show on 45th Street. I am crying as I write this. Cranky may be cranky, but she is also extremely sentimental.

He talked to me about my character and how rehearsals have been going. “THEY’VE DONE NO SCENE WORK AT ALL!” I said, “All we’ve done is run the play from beginning to end.”

“Ah,” he said, “these people don’t know what they are doing. You have huge resources to draw on. You’re intelligent. You can work it out.” He calmed me down.

I love him. I love my Mr. Inscrutable. Someday, I will be directed by someone like him. I hope I hope. Then my life will be complete.

At the end of the conversation, I told him how he has been in my thoughts since he lost his wife and I started blubbering. The minute he heard the hint of a sniffle the got the hell off the phone. “Ah, I gotta go,” he said. No blubbering for Mr. Inscrutable. Oh no.

I Think I’m Feeling Very Chinatown

There’s been an Asian theme running through my week.
First, I thought I had found a great new way to get to rehearsal. I looked on a map and it looked like a subway that was unknown to me called Chrystie Street was closer.
So, next time I go to rehearsal I get off there. Now, Cranky cannot tell north or south for at least three minutes after getting off any subway. This train left me off at an intersection I had never seen in my life. I felt like the train had entered a vortex and gone through the center of the earth and come out in China. Like when I was a kid and I thought you could dig your way to China on the beach.
The sidewalks were packed with a lot of Chinese people in a hurry and one slow moving confused looking Caucasian. There were mounds of fish piled on wooden stands. Scary carcasses in the windows. And crowds and crowds of people. Not the tourist land Chinatown of knick-knacks and restaurants. Nope.
I wasn’t sure which way to walk. “All the buildings look alike.” I thought. So I picked a direction and started walking. When I had a feeling I was going in the wrong direction, I asked a man on the sidewalk, “Excuse me, which way is Little Italy?” And then I immediately felt horrible. Is if OK to ask a Chinese man in Chinatown the way to Little Italy? Are they in competition? Was he thinking, “What’s wrong? Chinese food not good enough for you?” Of course I thought of all this AFTER I had opened my mouth. So he pointed in the direction I was already going, thus adding five more blocks of going in the wrong direction until I finally wised up. Thanks Mr. Man On The Sidewalk. You got me back. So, I arrived at rehearsal huffing and puffing and fifteen minutes late.
Then, yesterday, I had tea with an actress friend and she told me that she’d been asked to do a reading of a screenplay and the director wants her to read the role of an Asian woman. Huh? She is as WASPY as they get. “Why?” I asked. “The director said he couldn’t find an Asian actress,” she said. “In all of New York City?” I asked. “Well, he’s won awards for his filmmaking.” She said he had won an award called THE GOLDEN BALLS or something in Cannes.

She was told that she would be reading for the wife role and when she got to the rehearsal he switched her to the Asian woman. “Do you think I can do it?” she asked. “Can you wear pointy sunglasses?” I answered. “The days of Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi are way over.”

“What are you gonna get out of this?” I said. “You know I’m glad I’m talking about this,” she said, “When I was there a couple of times I felt like I should have left. But I’ve been convincing myself that it was OK.”

This is what we do ALL the time. Your gut says NO. But your actor self hates to turn down any opportunity no matter how disturbing or annoying it its. This is why actors need other actor friends to talk then down from these situations. Because when you feel that way, no good is gonna come out it. She is not gonna get cast as the Asian woman when he makes the film.
Maybe someone should start a hotline for actors. Actor’s Anonymous. It could be staffed by other actors. I could just imagine it. “THEY WANT ME TO BRING TEN CHANGES OF CLOTHES AND I HAVE TO SLEEP IN THE PARK AND PAY MY OWN CARFARE.” “Just say no,” says the person on the helpline.

Just Learn Your Lines And Keep Your Trap Shut

I was recently talking to an actress friend of mine. I was telling her about the project I’m working on and how bare bones it all is. “I don’t know Cranky. It all sounds a little festivally,” she said. We had made a pact not to do any more festivals. You know, festivals that are aggravating from beginning to end. The festivals where you bring in the entire set, costumes and props for each performance and carry them out at the end of the performance and then back again for the next one. Those festivals. The festivals where you cannot get necessary information out of the people running it. The festivals where you end up paying your own money for rehearsal space and then they keep every penny of the door.
“I know,” I responded to her, “”They treat you like a child. They treat you like a desperate child. I’m tired of being treated like a desperate child. I AM NOT A DESPERATE CHILD. I’M A DESPERATE ADULT.”

Hence, I am working with a group who is gonna tech the afternoon of the first performance. So our first full run through of the play is gonna be opening night. When I asked about it, the director said, “Well, if we do it the day before that would cost us an extra eighty dollars.” You’re kidding me, right? I came THIS close to passing around a hat to the cast. There are six of us, so it would cost us $13.35 each. And I could go up to him and say, “Here. Here’s your eighty dollas.” But I didn’t do it, because these kind of bright ideas don’t go over big with the powers that be. It’s hard, but I’ve figured out I really need to keep my mouth shut like a lot.

“Go with the flow. Go with the flow,” I tell myself when I see people doing stupid stupid things. I’m a cast member. Directors don’t like cast members who have too many ideas. Directors LIKE cast members who smile a lot and don’t say much. Saying things takes time.

Also good is learning all your lines in a timely manner. I have to be off book tomorrow. I have been procrastinating. Hence, my apartment has never been cleaner. And I’ve called every long lost friend I can think of. And I did every machine in the gym. And I finished a mailing list I started in October 2008. And it is now 3:42 pm and there is no busy work left to do, so I am sitting with the script. And now the sun just came out for the first time in like a month and I’m thinking about the park. I wonder if Denzel Washington ever has these problems?

I better get it together. Because as a desperate adult I should be thankful for this role. Especially considering my personal axiom that if you are an actress over 40 and your character is having sex, grab that role.

Cranky In Rehearsal

I’ve been rehearsing the play. I like the director. Especially since he lets me do what I want.

When I got the script, I realized my character was horribly, grossly overwritten. A bad cliché rich woman from a drawing room comedy circa 1932. “OY VEY” I said to myself, “I’m a better writer than the writer of the play I am acting in. I took a chance and decided to be honest.

After the table read, the director told us that if there were any lines that bothered us that needed changing we could discuss it at the next meeting. So we have the next meeting, and nobody else had any changes. And I was like, “Well, let’s go to page 14.” That’s the page my character enters on. And I worked my through the rest of the play. Cutting, burning, slashing extraneous words and lines.

For example, my character is supposed to say, “Oh, you are just too funny,” and I changed it to, “Funny.” Which is actually much funnier in the circumstances my character is in.

The director got it. I love him now.

Fighting stilted dialogue is a losing acting battle.

The director also said to ignore the micro-managing annoying cloying stage directions that are there before and after every piece of dialogue. All I have to see is something like, “she says sarcastically,” to make me lose respect for the writer. I’ll say it however the hell I want. That’s why you hired me.

I’m also getting to know the group I am rehearsing with. I’m a guest artist, and it’s a company and every company has its own culture.

This is a new one. Rehearsal by committee. People have opinions about other people’s characters and what they should be doing. Especially one guy who I have dubbed the “REHEARSAL NAZI.” He takes over. The director says two words and Nazi jumps up and says, “Wait. I should go here, He should go there. She should sit there.” And everybody does it.

The blocking first method (if you can call it a method)is not ideal, but it happens a lot. Organically figuring out where your character wants to go and why is THE ONLY thing that makes sense. Otherwise you get that mannequinesque feeling that you have to work really hard to shake.

You have to work backwards and fill in why you are doing what you are doing after you are already doing it.

I’ve learned the hard way that even though they have given you a stack of postcards and a beautiful email invite for the show, do not send even one of those suckers out until you fell solid in the role. Which may sometimes be never.

There is nothing worse than knowing that people you know are in the audience and that you are moving around the stage nonsensically in a way that shows you are doing what you are doing because the director told you to do it.

But I am staying calm. Aren’t you proud of me? I get to wear a fabulous outfit. I keep reminding myself about that and that and it makes me happy.

And by some miracle, I am quite often able to pull a performance out of my ass even after only counter-intuitive rehearsals. I just lie on the couch and daydream through each scene. It works.

Yesterday in rehearsal, I overheard the rehearsal Nazi tell another actor; “No, you don’t understand. You might think this scene is about you. But actually every scene in this play is about me.” AND HE WASN’T JOKING.

And I found out last night that our first time working in the theater is opening night. Never done that before and if I didn’t have a SENSE OF HUMOR, I’d be scared.

Then the director goes, “Listen people. I want you to take care of yourselves. If one of you gets sick everyone is gonna get it.” Then the stage manager says. “I know, but I’m under so much stress, I feel like I’m a little under the weather already.” And the director says, “WELL, THAT’S OK, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KISS ANYBODY.” How sweet. Since her sickness won’t disrupt the production she can go ahead and GET AS SICK AS SHE WANTS. She can die really as far as the director is concerned, because the curtain WILL STILL GO UP without her. This is how single-minded directors and producers get about projects. I know, I’ve been there when I produced. I’ve had to ask myself if I was putting on a show AND losing my humanity.

I told the director that he was being very Coppola. As in “Apocalypse Now” when Martin Sheen’s heart trouble threatened to hold up production. “He might die,” someone said. “He’s not dead until I say he is dead,” said Coppola. The director just gave me a weird look.

Excuse Me Mr. Director WHAT DID YOU SAY?

Had a first table read of the play I’m in the other night. Everybody was very nice. Not a psycho in the bunch. No one vying for all the attention or anything. It’s a theater company, so they have a lot of repeats, so the nuts probably don’t get asked back.

I kinda hate the first table read. Because even though I shouldn’t, I feel like I am meeting the other actors for the first time and they have never seen my work and they are judging how good an actor I am and there is not much I can do because I am still finding my way and I know I shouldn’t feel this way.
Anyway, the director has the aura of a former whiz kid or something. I know he got all A’s and probably skipped a grade and raised his hand a lot. And he was friends with all his teachers. And was in every club. You know BRIGHT. Talks fast. Thinks fast. That’s good. Smart is good.

So before we start he says, “I know everyone says don’t try to do anything on the first read, just read. But I don’t want that. Try to do something.” OH NO. So we all become laugh whores during the read and push for the laughs.
When we finish the play, he says he has a problem with two scenes. “I noticed people were yawning while you read those last two scenes.” He is talking about tightening up the writing of the scenes, but I know the actors who read the scenes can’t hear him now because the words “ YAWNING WHILE YOU READ, YAWNING WHILE YOU READ, YAWNING WHILE YOU READ, YAWNING WHILE YOU READ are now reverberating in their minds and they can’t hear anything else. Hence the uncomfortable phony panic smiles on their faces and the glazed expressions in their eyes. And their attempts to nod at the appropriate times to show they can actually hear him and know what he is talking about.

Eh, uh, I don’t think he should have mentioned the yawning thing. Actors are so hard on themselves and sensitive you gotta be careful what you say to us.

Directors need organization, talent, intelligence and sensitivity. I once worked with a film director who seemed to specialize in saying inappropriate things to actors. I was doing a scene in a kitchen where my character was desperate. We did a few takes and it went fine. Then the director said, “Just for the hell of it, take it really far. Go all out.” So we did the take and I was shaking and crying. When we finished the DP looked impressed and turned to the director and said, “What do you think? Should we print that one?” And the director turned to him and said, “No, no, that was way too over the top, no!” “Ah, HELLO I AM THREE FEET AWAY FROM YOU. I CAN HEAR YOU! I’M IN THE ROOM!” I thought. Thanks. Nice. I asked one of the crew about it. “How can he say this stuff? Does he think I’m an idiot?” “No,” they said, “he talks like that to all the actors.” Luckily for us, he ended up a film editor. In a dark studio. Where he doesn’t have to talk to anybody. Good thing.

To Show Or Not To Show That Is The Question

Cranky had to ask herself a hard question yesterday. I got a call for an audition and had to ask myself,” Do I really want to be in another show”?

Film – you’re in and you’re out. Theater is a bigger time commitment. And I’ve shied away from theater because I was traumatized by the last psycho director I worked with at LaMaMa.

So this group asking me to audition sends me the script. I don’t like it. The character I was auditioning for has another character put his hand on her breast – TWICE. Yuck. And the ending was completely stupid. This is where the English Major and the actress in my mind go to battle. Because you can be a SNOB or you can WORK. But you can’t be BOTH. Unless you are famous. And we all know I’m not famous, so I’m f____d.

So I force myself to work on it. They were very professional. Love that. They sent me the whole play to read and the exact sides I would be reading. And an appointment time. THANK YOU.

And by working on it, I realized the dialogue was actually really good. Maybe the play wasn’t so bad, and my phobia was tricking me into not liking it because I’m gun shy about doing theater. My neuroses was making me hyper-critical.
So when I got off the subway and I was walking through Hell’s Kitchen to the theater, I made a deal with myself. “See that restaurant over there? Well if you do a good job and get the part you can go there after the show,” I told myself. Good, bad or mediocre, every show has the upside of going out after with friends after. Cranky loves that.
Also, I told myself, “Just think of the bumper crop of new stories sure to pop up during the many days and days and hours and hours of a theater rehearsal process.”

So I was in a positive head when I went into the waiting area. I sat down to work some more on the script. I had given myself an extra fifteen minutes so I could sit quietly and get into character.

And as per usual another actress who was also auditioning came in and started talking REALLY LOUD to some guy involved with the theater. “Oh wow! Hi! Great to see you!! I know this is gonna be a great project, but I’m not sure if I will have time because I’m really involved with SOHO REP. They are such nice people there. But, I mean, I want to stay OUT THERE. I really need to be out there acting. It would be cool to be involved here too, you know?” she said/yelled.

I refused to be an audience for these antics. I got up and went and sat on the other side of the room. Especially since the actress was standing so that she had her ass in my face. Was she sending me a message? When the guy left, she turned around and gave me the phony “I hate you” smile. “I hate you too,” my blank stare back said.

A child actor went in to read before me. His Dad tiptoed over and put his ear on the door so he could listen. If Dad keeps this up his kid has NO CHANCE. Oh, and the mother called on the cell phone to wish the kid GOOD LUCK before he went in. Nooooooo. Gag me. Leave the kid alone.

Cranky opened her mouth and told the Dad, “You gotta let him go. Let him go…..” Dad chuckled and said, “ I get so nervous for him.” Yes, and pass your nervousness on to him and he will surely succeed.

I went in and read my two scenes and did a good job and everything. I overcame my theaterphobia inflicted by the insane Italian director. I allowed myself to be inspired. I utilized Cranky therapy. The promise of fun nights in restaurants AFTER the show did the trick.

Directors Who Talk Talk Taaaaaalk Too Much

Had an audition yesterday that took a looooong time. I felt bad because I knew the actress after me had an appointment to make. I was in there over half an hour. Most of the time it was the director talking. I don’t know what he was talking about.

“Well, the script we sent you is not in the actual film we are filming. That script is from the longer full version. We are filming the short six-minute version. But later we will be filming a full version. Maybe you should read a scene that is actually in the film,” he says. “Well then why did you send it to me and why did I memorize it? I THINK. But, “Whatever you want to do,” is what I SAY.

He looks through a pile of sides and finds the one that he wants. I have never seen it before. He slides it across the table and asks me to read it. Out loud. No preparation. No idea what the next line might be about. Like acting is some kind of dog trick. And I’m reading with his assistant who looks like a Sylvia Plath wannabe with major social awkwardness issues who reads so fast I cannot understand, follow or respond to her. With hair hanging in her face to complete the picture. What rock did these people crawl out from under?

And then he talks and talks and talks some more.

I start wondering if he planned the whole switch the script routine to see how actors would respond. If I gave a crap, I would be concerned, because if I can spend a little time with a script I can do something with it. But I act totally affable about the whole thing which shows Cranky really can ACT.

The whole cluelessness of the situation was making Cranky tired and I just wanted to leave now.

The director has this look on his face like, “YES, finally, I am in charge” as he talks and talks and talks.” He is never gonna zip it ever again. His megalomania has been under wraps for a long time and has found an outlet in DIRECTOR. There is no stopping it. He is sucking all the air out of the room. I am not there as actress, but as his audience.

He continues, “How about you read another character?” And proceeds to tell me HER whole life story. Including names, and I kept getting her husband’s name and her son’s name mixed up when he was talking, so the story made no sense. It was something about a little league game and a dinner. It went on and on and on. And once again my acting skills come into play because I am able to look totally interested and engaged and COMPREHENDING the whole time. A little nod of the head here, a little thoughtful look there. Then he hands me the script and this character says TWO WORDS. I am not kidding,TWO WORDS. After the twenty-minute build up with the little league and all.

This is what happens when a director is high on his project. Nice for him, but does not help me. My little actress animal self just wants what’s in the script and how it will affect her. My actress animal does not want to listen to someone who loves to hear himself talk and talk and talk and talk.

Directors who talk too much make my eyes glaze over. I’m an intuitive actor. I need a feeling, not a diatribe. The diatribe kills it. I want to find out what the script does to me and no director can tell me that. They can help you mold and hone what you find hopefully.

The thing when the director wants to sit down and spend days going over the script line by line discussing what each word means is death to me. I have no idea what anything means until I do it, say it, AM it. It also really makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when another actor starts talking about the meaning/significance of one of MY lines.

But that’s what those sit down with the script and analyze it sessions lead to. People feel they have to say something. Something intelligent sounding. GAG ME GAG ME. I never feel compelled to say anything if a director does this. I once had to do it for two days. I just wanted it to be over, so I figured the less I contributed the sooner it would end.

“It seems like you’re shutting down,” a director said to me during the torture analysis. Shutting down? “No, no I’m trying to wipe everything out of my mind the minute it is said, so it won’t screw up my rehearsal process,” I thought. But I didn’t say that. I smiled and said, “Oh?” like I was surprised and didn’t mean it.

The teacher I love always says, “Find out what happens to you.” Well nothing much is happening if we’re gonna intellectualize the play and every word in it.

Cranky is an intelligent person but not an intellectual actor. Cranky uses animal brain not intelligent brain to act. I can read a script and find the clues. I’m a writer. Good directors can say the exact few words I need to hear and can like make me cry. “Good directors” being the ones who work the way Cranky likes to work, of course.


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March 2023

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