Sister James-Member at Large

I attended my first Northumberland Players Annual General Meeting last night, and found it very interesting. I am happy to say I now get to try my hand at being a part of the Board as their Member at Large. I have little idea what that means, and have never been on the board of anything, but what I lack in knowledge and know-how I hope to make up in enthusiasm. I am unsure of how much time I will have to devote to it as well considering I work 90 hours in 2 weeks and have 2 kids and oh yeah, I’m getting married in less than a year!!…but I think it may be a learning experience, and who doesn’t like those?

Starr, Greg and I also performed a scene from Doubt, and let me say, I was terrified- way more nervous than a regular performance. Helen said it was because these were my peers, and I think she might have been right. It’s different when some of your fellow NP members and friends MIGHT be in the audience than when they’re ALL there. Eep. It went very smoothly though, and I was very happy to see some scenes from other shows AND grateful for the wine served after, let me tell you.

Tonight’s performance went very well- smaller audience, but in the Firehall, that is no problem…you still feel like you’re performing to a nice amount of people. I felt pretty worn out tonight and must confess I actually dozed during the one longer scene I’m not in. It’s a good thing Sister James mentions how she can’t sleep anymore because I’m sure that’s exactly what it looked like.

And of course I get home and am awake for an hour or more. It’s all good though..I just work tomorrow and then have a fun weekend to look forward to.

I’m sure I’ll see many of you too- which is, you know, cool, I won’t, like, look for you anything, but maybe if you’re around…we could make out or something. Whatev.

🙂

Two down….

All right- the first weekend’s performances of Doubt are over. I’m really glad we got some shows under our belt and I think this cast is excellent and overall, the show is great.

I gotta say, though, we’ve had a few bobbles and it’s been stressful trying to overcome them. It’s been quite scary going onstage and not feeling totally confident with what’s happening.  I’m not sure what the solution is, but I’m glad we’re all doing whatever we can to find it. I wouldn’t trade the role of Sister James for anything and I hope my fellow cast is having an amazing time with their roles as well. We’re already hearing great things from the audiences, so that’s very encouraging. Just got to keep making the show tighter and tighter, like Sister Aloysius’…well, never mind.

Since, I was busy with Hell Week last Wednesday, I missed learning The Money Song for Cabaret- how was that for anyone who DID learn it and might be reading this? It looks a bit difficult. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now- usually I can cope with a lot at once, but I’m struggling. Maybe I’m getting too old for this. I said to Eusene tonight that life is always going to be busy, it may as well be filled with stuff I WANT to do. But perhaps I WANT to do too much.

Shit. I’m a bit of a hot mess right now.

It’s 10:30, I have to be up at 4 and work at 5…my post is totally stream of consciousness right now, and I think I must turn my brain off and my clocks back…which means it’s 9:30! Props to Daylight Savings Time. I’m out.

Ah, Hell Week

I’m SO tired, not eating well, I miss Shawn and my kids a LOT… it must be Hell Week. I love the process of the last nights leading up to opening… filled with cue-to-cue technical rehearsals, trying out costumes, all of the fine-tuning.  I’m sure not many people do, it’s not an easy week,and considering how exhausted I am, it’s possible I’m just hysterical right now and totally lying. But the vibe of Hell Week is cool, even if it’s stressful. The mutual losing of our minds is our bond.

In this week, I have discovered that this nun’s habit is the most comfortable costume I think I’ve ever worn, but I’m not going to wear pants underneath, cause then I will be cooler (and slightly naughty.) It has a bazillion things that tie around my neck though, and I must make sure I tie securely so I won’t lose my dicky.

I noticed how much tighter we get when we run the show each night – the gaps get smaller and smaller, so opening night means they should disappear completely. I see that my director and crew have great taste- in decor and music and everything. My fellow actors love their roles as much as I love mine, and we’re playing off of each other very well.

I’m going to say goodnight now, since I believe I’ve started to hallucinate, but, yeah…Hell Week…..rock on.

(Oh, and even though it was a good night with Doubt,  I did miss my Cabaret crew. Word, yo.)

Theatrically-Related Digestive Issues

Whenever I am dealing with negative emotions or stress in my life, I find everything manifests itself in my stomach. I get nauseated and have tummy-aches, things I never have otherwise.

Doubt is a very serious play, and I have now come to the conclusion that we’re doing a great job, because after I have finished a particularly emotional scene, my stomach is in TURMOIL. I don’t consider myself a “Method” actor at all, I’m more technically inclined. I go onstage, hit my marks. But I also learned from some very talented people that if I THINK the thought the character would be thinking, the proper expression will appear. And I guess it will also make you feel the real emotions, because I sometimes want to vomit during and after a scene.Considering the subject matter, I suppose it makes sense. Guess I’ll be popping the Tums for the run of THIS show.

What about you- how does your body react when you’re performing?

 

Anxiety

A quick post:

It is just over a week until Doubt opens!

This is mostly exciting to me, but also a little terrifying. My nerves are particularly bad this time around, this character is a weird one for me and I’m not feeling as prepared as I normally do. But we’ve been given all the tools, by our director and OURSELVES- it’s just a matter of putting them together. I  I know we’ll do it. And I hope you’ll all be there to see an amazing performance! If you don’t already have your tickets (and I’m sure you do,) get them soon! And if anyone happens to be at the health food store, a little bottle of Rescue Remedy might do me wonders and calm my tangled nerves.

Just kidding. Ok, my neuroses aside, I can’t wait to see you guys- either at work, shows or rehearsal!

Boy, I’m going to feel that in the morning…

Oy.

So, I don’t know if you are aware, but I have no choice but to work every other weekend. Since rehearsal typically starts at 1  and I don’t normally finish my work day until 3, I had to do some rearranging. I got up at 4, went to work 5-1, and booted it to the Firehall just in time to catch the end of the vocal warmup. I’m so tired,  as I write this, I keep nodding off. Hopefully, as you read this, the same thing isn’t happening to you.

(Really, I shouldn’t complain, since Texas has a performance at the Best Western RIGHT NOW, AFTER rehearsal- go see A Month Of Sundays!)

After a couple of rehearsals, I’ve drawn some conclusions- it’s a great cast, and man, we are all working hard already! I think “Wilkommen” is going to be dazzling, and I think it’s fun that I get to end the number in a split! THIS means I must incorporate some major yoga back into my workout routine, and if anyone wants to join me, let me know. And don’t forget Zumba!

As I write this, my lower back is aching, my feet hurt from new character shoes (which otherwise I LOVE), and I keep getting charley horses in my calves (heh heh- charley HORSES…CALVES  -that’s………not really funny, is it?.)  Anyway, on the bright side, my inner thighs are doing fine, so I’m relatively sure I didn’t overextend ONE part of my anatomy. Though I may add a quick edit to this post after a night’s sleep. It’s entirely possible I won’t have an easy time getting up tomorrow. Since it’s my day off, I may not even get UP tomorrow, especially if I can find a way to clean the kitchen and do laundry from my bed.

EDIT: I am a little stiff this morning,  but totally shocked it’s not worse. A little music, a little light tooling around the house- I may not die after all.

The wrong wolf suppressed the bishop!

There’s a small section of one scene in Doubt that I can’t seem to get memorized. I’ve used all my tricks, and made sure I knew the context of the scene well enough to know what comes next. But it’s the kind of scene where my lines resemble each other greatly, and nothing is working.

So I have a new one. Basically, I take a word from my cue line and relate it to my own. Hence “wolf” and “wrong” (both start with ‘W’,) “suppressed” and “bishop” (esses and pees) and “after” and “monsignor” (you guessed it- the “er” sound at the end.) I have never done this before, but it’s definitely helping. What are your techniques for memorization? And, oh yeah….DOUBT OPENS IN TWO WEEKS!

Sistah James!!

Not me. I play SistER James. If you’re not aware, my friend Eusene James has the role of Mrs. Muller, the mother of the black boy in question in Doubt. I call her SistAH James (and was promptly reminded of how very white I am) – and she is so good. EVERYONE had a good rehearsal tonight. Greg and Starr I’ve been working with closely, so I know how great they are in their roles, but it was super to see Eusene too.

Tonight,  I hardly needed any prompting, and Thanks Be To God (Sister James – I can’t shake her), because tomorrow marks TWO weeks until opening!!! Also, just putting it out there, we need a little transistor radio that could be used in the 1960’s or ’70’s for the show, if you could lead us to one. Oh, and buy tickets and come see Doubt.

So, I’ve decided this is a role I will remember as a favourite, because it’s so challenging. I’m not a nun, I don’t have sunshine oozing out of my every pore, I don’t believe everybody immediately or automatically assume the best in people….actually, I totally do. Not the nun or the sunshine, but I am so dense when people lie- it doesn’t typically occur to me, I have to be told. AND I love everybody until they give me a reason not to. And it’s got to be a REALLY bad thing, like they’re a serial killer or don’t like The Muppets.

Hmmm- other favourite roles…..I loved playing Germaine the sassy barmaid in Picasso At The Lapin Agile. And Dawn the New York City cop in Lobby Hero. Any parts where I get to make out with cute boys legitimately and Shawn can’t get me into trouble are dear to my heart as well. What about ye who are currently reading this post? Any favourite plays or parts or songs or memories? (I’m trying to generate conversation here, so contribute if you can.)

Have I mentioned that The Firehall Theatre itself is probably also my favourite venue? ( I know this is my third blog post, and I haven’t- just trying to segue into it, and I am a very amateur writer.) It may only seat 60 or so, but it is the COOLEST space, and I love using it. And being so close to the audience is scary, but very rewarding.

Upon reading what I wrote just now, it seems like rambling to me. I am actually struggling for every word. I really want to blog these experiences, but I want it to be interesting enough that people will read it. And my ego is not (yet) big enough for me to assume something like that automatically. But since I now want to go and get a Popsicle because my attention span is minuscule, I think I’ll just leave it and hope for the best.

Yeesh.

Doubt is a Pulitzer prize-winning play. It’s really well-written, which is why I am so annoyed with myself after tonight’s rehearsal, when those lovely words were a hard time coming.

I mostly treat doing a show like a job. I like to have fun (I wouldn’t do this for free if it wasn’t fun) but when it comes down to it, it’s about focus and hard work.

Man, did I fuck that up.

I could not keep my focus and as quick as I wanted the pace to be, I couldn’t get there. There were extenuating circumstances, though, it wasn’t just me being an idiot. Super-tired, distracted with thoughts of work and maybe also the fact that I JUST BOOKED MY WEDDING FOR OCTOBER 13th OF NEXT YEAR AT VICTORIA HALL TODAY (Scheisse!) and kind of losing my connection with my fellow cast members a lot. A little unnerving when we open on November 4th, but I’m sure I’ll get there. As Heather, the shape of the scenes is good and, if I can STAY in character, I feel I have a good sense of it.Aargh. Anyone else get frustrated like this at rehearsals sometimes?

On a lighter note, I totally tried on my nun’s habit and I look AWESOME…I really may have missed my calling. Made me think about my first Cabaret costume (for Wilkommen) and what it will be like…I’m imagining a German officer of some sort (NOT a military officer, but like the polizei) with a short skirt and garters and…and a riding crop. I want to carry a riding crop again. Heh Heh….

Wilkommen!

Someone write this for me.

I had an idea today. I actually have it every time I start rehearsing a new show, or even right as soon as I get cast in one.”I should bring my camera. Chronicle this show experience. Write a journal.”  I never have. I glom onto the photos others have taken, I keep all the newspaper clippings and programs. But these are always from the viewpoint of someone else. And they don’t usually speak of the process so much as the end result.

So this is my attempt (perhaps pathetic) at recounting what I go through in the course of the show run. I just wanna come back to this later and remember what I learned THIS time (the education never ends.)

Here’s some backstory for anyone reading: I live in Cobourg, Ontario and am involved with The Northumberland Players, one of our excellent local theatre groups. At this moment, I am playing Sister James in our production of Doubt:A Parable, and I’ve been rehearsing for a month or so now. TODAY, I had my first rehearsal for the musical Cabaret. A few weeks ago, I found out I was cast as a Kit Kat girl, and I was thrilled. From a nun to a whore…..I like to assume they think I have range.

Now, Doubt rehearsals. Sister James is incredible. Sweet, light, loving…which makes her a great challenge to play. I might actually HAVE those attributes, but they present very differently in me than her. The range of emotion is muted, but broad. The rest of the cast is magnificent, and this show will be so very powerful. I get a sore back from sitting so straight, and am greatly looking forward to wearing the habit.I’ll try to keep updating how this is going through the run in November. And if you’re reading this, you will be required to also come and SEE the show.

Cabaret today- started by warming up vocally and was reminded how limited my range is (though Susan is sure to help that.) Then I was measured, which is just ANOTHER reminder of how much bigger I am than the rest of the girls. Which I guess is why I was cast as Helga, a fair bit larger than the Emcee and a little scary/dominatrix-y. I can get behind this character, but sometimes I wish I hadn’t let myself get so damned curvaceous. We’re still a beautiful group of women though, and I’m so excited to be a part of it. I did okay on the choreography today, and wrote it down step by step in a notebook when I got home- kinda looks like this though, since I am not a dancer and don’t know the terms for things:

right foot first, arms up, hands to right first- 4 downstage, 4 upstage

turn to right shoulder 90 degrees hip thrust 8-count

right foot step, left foot/arm out to left

left foot step, right foot to right, right arm up

right foot step, left knee up, push boobs together

 

Yeah. These are just for me to practice from, thankfully.