Monday, April 28, 2008

It's almost showtime!

This is the stretch run. Only three more rehearsals until Opening Night. Tonight was the first dress rehearsal and this is when it finally starts to feel like a real show. Instead of walking around in your regular clothes with all the house lights on while you navigate pieces of tape or folding chairs that are supposed to represent walls and furniture, you've got a set, costumes, props, music and show lighting to play with. Now is when it gets fun! The sports equivalent would be the day when you finally get to put on your game uniform and play in the stadium instead of on the practice field in shorts and a t-shirt. I'm starting to get butterflies, which is actually a good thing. Anytime I perform, I find that I actually need a certain amount of uncontrollable nervous energy. Not enough to make me jittery but enough to keep me alert and on my toes. Like a slow IV drip of adrenaline.
When I'm doing a show, I don't drink any alcohol from the time I'm cast until the show closes* and starting this week I won't have caffeine in any form until the show is over. Not because I'm approaching my one rinky-dink scene in "The Beverly Hillbillies" like I'm Val Kilmer or Sean Penn. It's just a routine I've always followed and I find routines comfortable when I'm performing.

Good god, I sound so full of shit I may have to slap myself. But since we're in that vein now anyway...

Somebody who says they would never even think of trying their hand at acting asked how to do it, like it's one of the most daunting tasks a human being could face. I know a lot of people feel that way but it really isn't. It's essentially playing make believe, something little kids do all the time. It's been said many times before, but seriously, how difficult can something that's literally child's play possibly be?
The best advice I ever heard when it comes to acting was a three word mantra: "Serve The Story". If you use that as your guide in your approach to how you construct your performance, it's actually pretty easy. It also works wonders for writers and directors and anybody involved in storytelling for that matter. For actors, when faced with the prospect of memorizing pages of dialogue, instead understand why and how your character is interacting with others. If you think of dialogue as conversations that need to take place in order to advance the plot instead of groups of words that need to be memorized and sequentially recited, it's easier to remember and your performance will be more natural, thus you Serve The Story.
Thinking about wearing a funny hat or talking with an odd accent or adding some other unscripted affectation? Ask yourself if doing so Serves The Story or if it just draws focus. Those two actions typically do not co-exist peacefully and the production will inevitably suffer. That said, you still have to perform of course. Just know the difference between performing and showing off.
Considering throwing in some inside joke or obscure reference for the amusement of your pals in the audience? If you're ever in a show with me, don't, unless you want me to murder you. Because I'll do it, so help me (but not on stage, because that would almost certainly draw undue focus). To me, this is absolutely the worst sin an actor can commit. Deviating from the script as written for your own selfish motives is EXTREMELY disrespectful to the writer, your fellow cast members and, most importantly, a majority of the audience, who are the ones who paid their hard earned money and/or surrendered an evening to watch you...what?...SERVE THE GODDAMN STORY!! Not trade Carol Burnett-esque winks and nods with your buddies in the 5th row.

There. I'm off my high-minded actor-y soapbox now.

Anyway, here is the official blurb from Plant City Entertainment. If you're coming to the show, please stick around afterwards and say hello. Unless you hate me (which is entirely possible), in which case I'd rather not interact with you in that particular forum. Thanks.

Plant City Entertainment, Inc. community theater is proud to present the HILARIOUS comedy, "The Beverly Hillbillies". The play, based on the television 1960s sitcom has a huge cast who will portray Jed, Granny, Jethro and Elly May Clampett and Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway, among other characters. (NOTE FROM CLARK: That's me; I'll be portraying one of those "other characters")

SHOW DATES: MAY 2, 3, 9, 10, 2008

Each performance will begin at 8:00 p.m.
Ticket prices are: $10.00 General Admission and $8.00
Seniors 55 and older AND students through 12th grade.
Tickets will be available at the door prior to each performance. Group rates are available at Hardee's Fashions: (813) 754-4929. Individual advance tickets may also be purchased before the opening date at Hardee's Fashions at 1501 N. Wheeler Street in Plant City (ANOTHER NOTE FROM CLARK: Don't go there looking for hamburgers. Trust me). For more information, call: (813) 986-7141

* Let me know if you want to hang out after the last show on May 10th because wheeeee doggies, I'm gonna be dangerous!


citizen jane said...

I must add my own acting mantra to the very wise "serve the story":

Don't pull focus. I was told that early on many moons ago and I've always remembered it. Both are good advice, on and off stage.

Break a leg, dude!

Why, it's Clark! said...

Thanks, Jane!
That's great advice too. I was in a show once with a guy who thought he was giving the performance of his life becuase someone in the cast said he was upstaging her. No dumbass, she's trying to tell you you're standing wrong.