Monday, September 20, 2010


The Red-Eye Shuffle and The Pas de Stools

Dear Kitty 2.0,

We covered a whole heck of a lot last week.  We’ve staged the entire play and we’re now doing full run-throughs.  Sometimes they’re good, other times, well... we’ve got time to make all the appropriate fixes before we have an audience.  They’re helpful because (as Lou, our Mr.Dussel noted,) it gives us a chance to plot an arc of emotions throughout the piece.  Not to mention that it helps to curb that “where-am-I-what-am-I-doing-what’s-coming-next?!” feeling.

After our Sunday rehearsal, I headed back to LA to shoot on my Monday “day off,” and then red-eye it back before rehearsal on Tuesday.  I was a bit concerned (and I think Gerald was as well,) that the strides I’d taken in developing my sense of Anne’s character might get lost in the time away while I tried to fully submerge myself in my role in the film and be totally “present” in that world.  (I put quotation marks around “present” because it’s one of those actorly words that gets tossed around a lot-- means to be “in the moment.”)

To be working on two projects at the same time has felt almost as if I’m leading two completely separate lives which are happening concurrently.  However, I did notice a bit of cross-pollination while I was shooting on Monday which was totally bizarre: I was preparing for a very emotional scene and taking a bit of time before “Action” was called to get to the psychological place I needed to be... when all of a sudden, Hannali appeared!  Well, not Hannali, but Anne’s soliloquy about having a vision of her friend Hannali “dressed in rags, her face thin and worn.”  It’s essentially a vision that Anne has of her best friend in a concentration camp, which Anne sees as a “reminder of what my fate might have been.”  (This scene is made all the more poignant by the fact that Hannali actually survived the camps, and Anne did not.)  When I’m performing this monologue, all that runs through my head are those awful images of those impossibly emaciated children looking through the barbed wire.  I’d venture to say that everyone has an immediate emotional response to those photographs, be it anger, sadness, compassion, etc.  But this particular soliloquy is about transmitting Anne’s vision of such an image, so I have to conjure up “Hannali” before me, it with great clarity, as if I were Anne.

Long story short, it’s pretty upsetting.  And so, sitting on a couch waiting to shoot a high-emotion scene for a totally unrelated movie, I took the opportunity to, well... multi-task, I guess.  Somehow building up my grief by conjuring up Anne’s world kept me sort-of connected to the play, even while I simultaneously separated myself from the theater-land of projection, enunciation, and “cheating out” (standing so the audience can see you).

Okay.  I’m realizing at this point that this particular post is reading like a real downer.  Which is actually the opposite of what I set out to talk about!  Honest!

I was going to let you in on some inside jokes we’ve got going and tell you how silly we’ve become.  Well, not all the time.  But sometimes.  Which I think is really important when you’re working on a show about the Holocaust.  Case in point:  Steve and Mimi and the rest of the gang singing “Mr. Krahler” to the tune “Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes.  I’m kicking myself for not remembering their terrific lyrics.  And yes, there was choreography.

One thing that was really cracking me up yesterday-- and this is something that’s come up in several run-throughs now-- revolved around the placement of a stool.  We’ve got a bunch of chairs and two stools on our set as part of our charming “dining room” set in the Annex, and before a scene in Act II when we’re all sitting down to begrudgingly eat our dinner of kale and rotten potatoes, a stool is set at the table for yours truly.  Buuuuut, sometimes props don’t get to the right place and it’s part of our job in rehearsals to really spend the time to figure out the who/what/where/when/why/how of prop choreography.

Anyways.  We all ended up having a rather long-ish discussion about one little stool.  And all I could think of was that scene in “Waiting for Guffman”:

So yeah, Ari and Lauren and I had a good laugh about that one.

Oh, also, it was Monica’s birthday on Sunday!  And Lou got a cake.

Gerald re-enacted the Mrs. Van Daan/Mr. Dussel quarrel over who “divides things better” after Miep brings a cake for the New Year.

I think we’ve had some sort of baked good practically every day since we started rehearsal which is just fine by me.  Mimi has made a really great spice cake twice now, and Felicity made zucchini bread which was delicious.  I’m not too shabby at baking either, but as I can hardly find time to do my laundry at present, my famous (infamous?) spicy chocolate chip cookies will have to wait.

Off I go-- Lauren and I are heading out to see Ari’s band (Oh You Devil) play downtown.  He plays the keyboard and does some back-up vocals.  Check ‘em out!



Philip Maynard Gardiner said...

Happy Birthday Monica! Funny Molly, I read what you wrote about "a lengthy discussion about one little stool" and I recall when, during our production of PRIVATE EYES, how sick and tired we all were that a "chair" had become an influential character: "Don't you believe you can play a love scene with a chair?"

Ichabod said...

Aha, I remember the couch scene! I was passing by the monitor (to go buy pants) and had to stop and watch because there was an urgency to your voice that wasn't there before. Yay rehearsals!