First Read Through of Antigone

Tonight is the first read through of Antigone. I’m excited, engaged and full of anticipation. The first read read_thruthrough of a new Theatre Project is a tradition, a necessity, a revelation, a ritual and a harbinger. It is the moment where everyone comes together for the first time and takes the first step in the process of making a play. In larger theatre companies it is a bit of an event. At the New York Shakespeare Festival, when I was there, the event was marked with bagels and coffee, and everyone from every creative department would attend. At small companies and pick up productions, the first read through happens sometimes at people’s homes or in small rehearsal spaces. It’s not a rehearsal but rather it is a declaration of the existence of a collective.

read_throughThe director will open with a few remarks. The Stage Manager will say a few words about housekeeping matters. Sometimes the producers will speak. Stage Management will sometimes arrange the seating around the reading table in order to afford the best view of the proceeding for the artistic team and the lead actors. Among the actors this is the first chance to see and hear each other. It is also a time for renewing old acquaintances and sizing each other up. Yes, I said it. It is during the first read through  that the actors begin to make judgements about each other.

“Gee, he’s taller than I thought”
“Is she REALLY going to do it like THAT?”
“I saw her in that other thing, Damn she is good?”

This is the moment when we all start to find out the truth about each other, about the play, about how the process will go forward. Tonight I’ll be joining with a pick up company of young people who, according to the producer, mostly trained in the SF Bay Area. I was raised in the Bay Area and have only worked there once. I’m eager and anxious and curious and maybe just a tiny bit nervous. It has been a long, long time since I have walked into a rehearsal room as purely an actor. I’ve been doing the “actor-slash” dance for longer than I care to admit. As I am likely to be the oldest in the company there will be certain expectations of me. Some of them I will have to live up to, others I will have to overcome. That process begins at the first read-thru.

One thing for certain. This play is going to rock the Hollywood Fringe Fest.  Get your tickets early. This one is going to sell out.

An Artists Daily Practice

Since returning to the practice of acting full time, I’m finding that information I’ve picked up on my journey is all scales_modesstarting to come together in new ways, and that I’m a more disciplined and serious actor than I was when I decided to become a serious, disciplined actor. What tipped me off? Daily Practice.

My master teacher Philip Meister had a clear idea about actor training and he put it this way,

“The training of an actor is no different from the the training of a musician or a dancer. Like the musician the actor is learning to play an instrument. Like the dancer, that instrument is the body”

I heard those words and understood the idea behind them but I still missed the importance of Philip’s idea and never really adopted the serious work ethic that it described. As a young actor starting out I was blessed and cursed with the ability to learn lines quickly. I was able to learn entire roles in a day and was always the first to put the book down in the rehearsal hall. The blessing? I never had to work hard on my script. The curse? I never had to work hard on my script. Because of that, I probably missed the boat on deeper choices, alternate readings, and a more powerful understanding of character, plot, and the arc of a story.

maxresdefaultNow, 30 years later, I have to work a lot harder to learn lines. A LOT harder. Learning the role of Creon in Antigone demands daily study for several hours. I’m getting my mind around it but I know that if I miss a day of study I’ll not only slow progress, but I’ll actually lose ground. When I realized this I remembered something a classical musician friend said to me,

“If you miss one day of practice, you’ll know it. If you miss two days of practice, your teacher will know it. If you miss three days of practice, the audience will know it.”

…and bells rang, lights flashed and I had an ah-ha moment. Philip Meister wasn’t just talking about training. His quote goes to the way a professional artist works. Serious professional musicians practice every day. Professional dancers take class every day. Actors have to practice their profession in just the same way. In order to do the the kind of work I want to do at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, I will have to work on the script every day from now until the day of the last performance. I’m already seeing the difference. The deeper story that we are telling is starting to solidify, and how the ancient greek story of Antigone relates to the world today is coming clear, and I we haven’t had the first rehearsal yet.

The moral of this story? I’m older, and if not wiser I am certainly starting to wise up.

FYI the Antigone performance schedule is as follows:

Friday June 12 2015, 10:30 PM
Tuesday June 16 2015, 10:00 PM
Saturday June 20 2015, 1:00 PM
Thursday June 25 2015, 8:30 PM
Friday June 26 2015, 5:30 PM

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online here

Memorizing Lines for the Hollywood Fringe Festival

I truly cannot remember the last time I devoted so much time to memorizing lines and doing it without distraction and interruption. The plan for Antigone is to be off book for the first rehearsal. I was doubtful at first when I saw how much I will have to say, but now, after many hours of study, I’m downright optimistic. This is going to be sooooo cool.

I see now that in the early years of my career, when memorization came so, so easily and I didn’t have toantigone study hard, that is just what happened. I didn’t study hard. I learned the lines and hit the marks and did a serviceable job. Now I’m older, a little wiser and a lot less of a quick study. The result is a slow, disciplined study of the lines, the scene, the story the character. In short, all the things an actor is supposed to do. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this but it’s the truth. Of course one thing I never did as a young actor starting out is show up to a first rehearsal off book. I may be further down the line, but I’m breaking new ground.

FYI the Antigone performance schedule is as follows:

Friday June 12 2015, 10:30 PM
Tuesday June 16 2015, 10:00 PM
Saturday June 20 2015, 1:00 PM
Thursday June 25 2015, 8:30 PM
Friday June 26 2015, 5:30 PM

Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online here

Antigone X2

What a week. I’ve been invited to play Creon in Antigone at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I’ll get to play with that wonderful young actress Brittany McGregor. On top of that, had an audition today for a production at that wonderful theatre in Pasadena, A Noise Within. I read for the role of Creon in Antigone, yes, Antigone! It was a privilege to read for this excellent company. My fingers are firmly crossed. Tickets for Antigone at  the Hollywood Fringe Fest can be purchased here.

Starting Over

A life in show business is just that, “A Life”, with all the ups and downs involved. Things are on the way back up for me just at the moment. This reading of Cyrano is a wonderful way to jump back into my acting career. It is so great to see so many of the original cast from our 1996 show. We are a great bunch of actors telling a great story together. Too bad it’s only only going to play one performance. Heck, maybe we can get a few investors and put on a full tilt production.

Here are some wonderful pictures from our last rehearsal:

A Reading of Cyrano de Bergerac

On May 8th, I will be reading the title role in what promises to be a dynamite staged reading of Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.This is a heart-rending story full of Blood, Love, Rhetoric and Swordfighting. Back in the Nineties, I was nominated for an LA Weekly award for best actor for this performance as Cyrano. The cast from that production is getting back together for one more show. Tickets are free but you have to reserve them ahead of time. This event will “sell” out so if you want to attend, get your tickets now.

Reserve Tickets at:
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/169631

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