Monday, March 8, 2010

Sliced Wide Open: A Post-Mortem

I apologize for my self-imposed electronic blackout this weekend -- my play was performing and I simply didn't want to waste the precious few minutes I had with my lovely babes (pictured below) blogging.  So, my bloggy pals, you now know that your place is on a rung below my family.  Hope that wasn't too painful to hear...

I'm not sure I can express all that this weekend was.  But let me try, anyway.

Opening night was abysmal, at least for me.  I fumbled, got completely lost, and dropped a paragraph -- this is not my norm.  I felt that I let down my scene partner, the director, and, most of all, the playwright -- who was in the audience.  Bad move on my part, but it set me up for some of the most astounding work I've ever done in front of an audience.

As an actor, I am well aware that my biggest hurdle is my own brain.  I over-think.  I censor.  I evaluate in the midst of performance.  I'm quite certain that this is what caused my stumble on opening night and I knew what the fix was, but would I be able to push my own brain out of my body so that my body could do the work?  The scene is brief and escalates quickly, so there is no warm-up, no easing into the moment.  I had to go there immediately and live there fully.

I have had glimpses of this feeling of stepping our of my brain and into my body before -- in acting classes a couple of times.  One time, I got a devastating note from a director before a final dress rehearsal and the rawness and panic I felt about the show slid effortlessly into the rehearsal, but I was never able to bring that back to any performance.  I wouldn't say that I was ever BAD doing that work, just not really good.

As I took the stage Friday night, I felt all of the stress about opening drift away.  I started breathing and could feel the breath come up from my toes, could feel it pushing energy into my fingertips.  When my scene partner came onstage, I looked at him and he looked back and it was as if I was seeing him for the first time.  The scene started and I gave up control entirely.  It ended entirely too soon.  Backstage, I was thrilled.  So much more real, so much more invested, so much more authentic.  What a great feeling!

I felt the momentum, knew that somehow I was on the verge of something I have never achieved -- the perfect melding of me, my partner, and the script.  Every time I took the stage, I felt energized, open and, well, open.  I was listening, closely, closely with my entire body and I had pushed the censoring mechanisms out of my brain, out of my conscious.

The Saturday night and Sunday afternoon performances will go down as a benchmark for me -- as moments when what was happening onstage, in me, and with my scene partner were perfectly balanced on that thin line between love and hate.  Where I dropped the cloak of comfort and opened myself to him and to the moment.  Where I got out of my own way.  Where in six minutes I went from me and a coffee mug and OK to completely wrecked, shaking and dazed, wide open and immensely vulnerable.  I've never come off stage that completely spent, that utterly used.

I cannot say enough that this absolutely has everything to do with the material, the direction, and the skill of my scene partner.  The script must have an emotional hook and the director must create an environment ripe for exploration.  An actor doesn't get to that place of pure honesty if he or she cannot trust that the person onstage with them will go there with them -- to that place where following an impulse is greeted with an honest reaction, where in the moment you decided to shut me up with a kiss and ruin me, right there in front of sixty people we don't know.  I was drunk and delirious, barely able to walk -- I have never been so happy to feel so bad in my entire life.

So thank you to Brian, Brian, Joe, (and Brian) for this completely extraordinary experience.  Joe, if you ever bring more to the tale of Pip and Kit, I want to be there and go there with you.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Soup Mama.

You are too hard on yourself, girl. I thought your performance Friday night was terrific. No worries about the line drop -- that knucklehead playwright wrote too many lines anyway. Heehee. Best to you and I'd love to see you and the multiple Brians do another Joe J show anytime. Yahoo! You rock! Best, Joe J. (playwright)

IASoupMama said...

Oh, Joe, I only wish you could have seen Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. Brian M. said the house was slack-jawed... I, of course, was too busy stumbling back to the green room to notice...

Erin said...

Soup Mama--

It sounds like you did a phenomenal job. You should be patting yourself on the back. I love your description of the whole thing---I felt like I was right there with you! CONGRATS!

Rhonda (a.k.a. The Lively Squaw) said...

Congratulations!!! Way to knock it out of the park! You hit your sweet spot, girl, and I'm happy for you.

Joseph said...

When I was a freshman at Cornell, I performed in Cosi Fan Tutte. I got a leading role over a Senior Music Major, and felt very proud of myself.
During the opening night of the show, I got to the 'BIG SOLO'... half way through, I realized that I had started the wrong verse. Normally, being a fairly decent actor, I figured that I would work this out and life would be fine. Until I started overthinking it, and ended up singing a series of 'La la la' and 'di do doo'...
At the end of the song, the audience just sat still for a while. My mother clapped wildly. Because that's what moms do.

Anonymous said...

Good fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

Congratulations!! I used to be a drama queen back in the day. So happy you had such great performances. I wish I could see you!