Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shine on, you crazy...ghost

It's hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago I was sitting at a table for the first read-thru of Conor Mcpherson's play SHINING CITY with director John Shepard and the phenomenal actors Karen Baum, FJ Hartland and James Masciovecchio. 

And even harder to believe that in just over a week, on May 6th, our show will open at Off the Wall Theater in Washington, PA. (Hint, hint...get your tickets now, hint hint).

We had a run-through last night and are just about to head into tech.  Usually that period fills me with a little bit of panic, but not this time.  We're in good shape and even though this play is complex and nuanced, we're mining deep into the emotional crevices and digging out some dramatic gold.

That's the poetic way of saying...we're working our asses off.

It's amazing to me how much I learn about playwriting from acting in a show.  This is true of all my roles--whether I'm directing, acting, teaching, writing--everything seems to feed and illuminate aspects of the other.  There's no better way to analyze a script, to examine the characters and story then being in rehearsals, learning lines, getting it up on its feet, and seeing how the play works on a stage. 

To be honest, when I first read the play for auditions months ago, I was unimpressed. The play didn't read that well to me.  A lot of great plays don't, though.  Shakespeare and Chekhov certainly don't "read" well.  They're meant to be worked on and heard and acted out. 

Now that I've lived with this play for these past weeks, I admire McPherson for his use of language, among other things.  The text in this play has so many levels, emotionally and intellectually, and the rhythms of the dialogue and the specificity of character and story is brilliant.  As an actor, a lot of my job is done for me by the playwright just from the given circumstances and the lines--just play your character's needs and hang on.  Not that this is easy--his given circumstances and what happens in the play are not a walk in the park (well, one of them is a walk in the park at night, if you know what that means, and if you don't, then come see the show to find out.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is...this play is illusive in that there's so much more going on than you think at first glance (like Chekhov or Pinter or Beckett). 

It's the kind of spare writing we all aspire to, or should anyway.

Oh, and McPherson knows to give you a good ending that will leave you talking about it on the way home.

No comments: