Candice, a senior theater major from Plano, Texas, currently is performing at SMU in Fabulation. The play by Lynn Nottage combines comedy, satire, and wit to tell the story of an African-American woman whose life is turned upside down when her husband is caught embezzling and she must return to the family she once shunned. The play runs from Oct. 25-29, 2006, in SMU's Margo Jones Theater.
Final Curtain Call
The show finally ended yesterday and it’s really bittersweet. I had a hard time holding together during curtain call, because I was genuinely sad it was over. Being in Fabulation has been my most incredible and memorable theatrical experiences of my life thus far. The response from people who have seen it has been overwhelming. I've never been in a show with this much genuine and kind response. It makes me feel wonderful to be apart of something like that. The comments I usually get from shows I am in are: "You were great!". And that's what people are saying about this show too, but more than that I am getting: "I loved the entire show!!!". That means the world to me, because the play spoke to them and on top of that they loved everyone in it. We really became a tight-knit ensemble throughout this experience. Everyone involved in this production held their own. Without each and every one of us, it would be such a different show.
Through the run of the six performances I really came into my own, I feel like. Once we were up in front of an audience, I really found so much more in my character than I ever did in rehearsals. Each night, it just got better and better for me, and I really started to have more and more fun! Who would have guessed that Ms. Serious could be funny! This was my first true comedy and it has left me with the confidence to do more. I think I have the bug, now.
Finally, Thank you to everyone who came to see the show or tried to, to those of you who kept up with my blog, and those of you who sent kind messages to me through Facebook and e-mail and in the halls. Your support is incredible and I thank you dearly. Be on the look out for me soon!
We opened last night! Wow, 6 weeks of hard work and late nights and we finally showcased what we'd put together collectively. I rarely get nervous before a performance, but before this show I was a little short of a wreck. Thank goodness I had the rest of the cast there telling me I was going to be fine. As soon as the curtain speech was over and I walked out onto the stage to begin my first line, things were smooth sailing from there. I just had to get out there and start and I knew I'd be OK. The crowd was amazing. As I looked around I saw friends, faculty members, and tons of new faces I didn't know but knew I wanted to share this story with. It was a really communicatory experience in that theatre last night. The best part about it, was it was just plain fun to do! You really can't ask for anything better. There were a few small blunders but nothing major, so overall the opening went fantastic.
The opening speech delivered by the Chair of the Dept. Cecil O'Neil was amazing! He reminded the audience that their participation in attending is what keeps this program and the theatre in general alive and that what they were about to experience was real-time and would be unlike any other performance of the show. That's the beautiful thing about theatre. Every night of the show is different. The audience is different, the vibe is different, and the experience shared in that small theatre between the audience and the actors is different every night. That is what makes theatre what it is, rather than film or television. It's a great thing to be apart of. It also pumped all of us up backstage when he mentioned to the audience that they were watching actors who were following in the footsteps of Academy and Tony award winning performers. What an honor, huh? That could be any one of us in this program years down the line.
Its all really bittersweet. I've been waiting for this week since we started the process and now that it's begun, I know it's going to pass sooner than I realize. Working on this show with the cast, crew, and especially the director Stan, has been one of my most memorable, enjoyable, and successful learning experiences of my life in the theatre. You can only hope to work in a show like this continually or even a few times. I have been cast in comedies only a few times in my life, and to top that I've portrayed a black woman zero times! So, this has opened my eyes to endless possibilities. And that, my blogger friends, is an empowering feeling!
So tech week has been really busy, which explains why I haven't written in a while.
We've been working late nights to try and put the finishing touches on the show. I always get really nervous and self-conscious during technical rehearsals and start to worry about the show. It seems to be a natural thing for me. I'm a worrier and a perfectionist, which doesn't serve me well at times.
Today is our last rehearsal before we open tomorrow and I really want to make the best of it. I just want to solidify some final trouble spots and feel super secure by the end of the night, because tomorrow we open to a sold out crowd!!! Yep, you read correct! What a way to start of the run of the show.
Talking to the
I don't know whether this is going to fuel my performance or scare me to death. I guess I will only know when the show starts and I talk to the audience for the first time. I still haven't had that full experience of talking to a full audience yet. During rehearsals it's usually the director, assistant director, stage managers, etc. sitting in the audience that I have to deliver my lines to and they have heard the play so many times, it's probably not terribly funny to them anymore. So tomorrow will be like taming a whole new beast.
I have no idea if the audience will laugh, what they will laugh at and when. I just have to be present and ready for whatever. I guess all I can really do at the end of the day is the work I have prepared and hope people connect with it. If you are still planning on coming get your tickets soon at the Meadow's box office.
The Show Must Go On, Right?
This Friday we did a run through for the crew members and the designers working on the show. It was their first time to see the show up on its feet completely. It was really intimidating to be honest, and it definitely got the best of me at times. I flubbed a lot of my lines and got so nervous I sped through a lot of it. Of course, I feel as though I didn't do well, but every actor feels that way most of the time. I left rehearsal that night really bummed and doubtful of whether I was capable of leading this show.
Back on Track
But like we all know, the show must go on. Saturday we returned to regular rehearsals at 10 a.m. and we just worked moment by moment in the show fixing any problems we had. The great thing about working with Stan is that he knows how to get the best out of his actors. He knows how to correct through encouragement, making you feel like all of your choices are viable, but at the same time defining which ones are the best one for your character. After rehearsals Saturday, I felt back on track and ready to work as hard as I can this last week and half to put a show together that people will love and enjoy! I always seem to reach this doubtful peak in every rehearsal process I go through. "Why did they cast me?" "Will people like my interpretation?" "Am I doing this role justice'. Blah Blah Blah... All actor fears!!!! At some point you have to put those to rest or you'll never continue to work past it and it can get the best of you.
So that's where I am at. We go into technical rehearsals on Tuesday, which means more focus on the technical (lighting, costumes, set, etc) aspect of the show and less on the acting. Everything is coming together faster than I thought!! The 25th will be here before I know it.
I posted an event on Facebook for Fabulation. It's an open event. So join and get information on the times and where to get tickets! It's a small venue with only 7 performances. Tickets will go fact. Get yours!! Can't wait to see you all!!!!
Fall Break is over and hard work has resumed. Today we moved into the Margo Jones Theatre upstairs as planned. It was really strange being in a new space after four weeks. So, today's rehearsal was mostly about going through the show and adjusting to the new space. Everything looks and feels different. The space is much bigger than the rehearsal hall so what we hoped would work in the rehearsal hall is now proving impossible in the actual theatre and small adjustments need to be made accordingly. My dialogue to the audience is much easier to deliver in the theatre, however, because at least there are chairs to focus on. In the rehearsal hall the white walls were proving difficult to talk to after a while, lol.
Being in Your Character's Clothes
Last Friday I had my costume fitting. It's really fun being in your character's clothing for the first time and really feeling it all come together. My character starts out in a fun, foxy, business type outfit (high-waist pencil skirt, pointy heels, and a flowy leopard top). She gradually looses her status and all of her money and heads home to live with her parents again, broke and pregnant. For this latter half of the show, Undine is in a high-waist simple dress (so that I can easily put my pregnant pads on under it) and sandals. Once I put these costumes on I just felt so much more like Undine. It's a strange feeling to explain, but once you're in your character's shoes and clothes you immediately begin to stand like them, walk like them, live like them. Maybe you've experienced something like this during Halloween. It's the one time of the year you can be anybody you want and sort of get away with it. Maybe that's part of why I love acting so much!!
We open two weeks from today!! Somehow it feels like it’s sneaking up on me! That day will come sooner that I realize. Focus for these last two weeks is pertinent. I hope to see all of you there filling up those seat that are now empty!
We've started running the show on occasion to get a feeling of the play as a whole and its rhythm. In the last few days I've really started to understand how heavy of a load my part in this production is. Fabulation is a pretty short show and can run about an hour and a half not including intermission. We're playing with the idea of not having an intermission, which means I would be on stage for almost the entire show!!! For anyone who has done this kind of work before, it is tiring. I'm struggling right now to make it through the entire show. It's a physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding kind of work. I'm hoping that over the next three weeks I can acquire a stamina of sorts, but right now it's very difficult. I have a lot of lines, and I often need a drink of water from talking so much. We'll probably end up working water onto the stage as some sort of prop so I can refuel.
Fall break is upon is,
and I desperately need it. Class all day and rehearsal all night is difficult.
Sometimes it becomes overwhelming and you want to just throw in the towel.
But this is the business I chose and it's only going to get harder, so I might
as well get used to it. People who are majors outside of Meadows sometimes
don't seem to understand how much work we put into our major. We may not be
hitting the "books" as much, but we're in the studios all day
and all night on our feet "working" in our own way. A lot of my colleagues
get home around midnight or later from a full day of work only to be up the next
couple hours studying for other classes and writing papers with a 9 am alarm
clock waiting for them. Food and sleep are hard to come by sometimes, but there's
a hunger for that "bug" we just can't get out of our systems which
keeps up going.
Moving to Margo Jones
On a happier note, I'm off book!! For the most part anyways. I still have to call for line on occasion, which is normal, but at least I don't have to carry my script around. And we get to move in the Margo Jones Theatre (where the show is) right after we get back from Fall Break, which is a week before our technical rehearsals begin. Shows rarely rehearse in the theatre they are going to be presented in. Instead, we rehearse in a rehearsal hall and only move into the actual theatre about 2 weeks before the show opens on what we call "tech week". Kind of strange, huh? This is because other shows are usually in that space, so we have to rehearse somewhere that won't conflict with a performance. So for us to move into the theatre 3 weeks before we open, is really rare and a huge advantage!! Well, I've sufficiently ranted enough. Until next time friends...
It's incredibly hard waking up on a Saturday for a rehearsal that starts at 10 am. Especially when you've gone out the night before. Eeek! Lessons are always hard to learn. But as usual, rehearsal was incredibly fun, so I got over being tired very quickly! The great thing about this show is that we really get to play and just have fun with our characters. We usually can't get through a scene without one of us breaking character from laughing at something another character is doing. That's the really amazing thing about Lynn Nottage's work. She has written characters that are incredibly funny on the page, but leave infinite possibilities for the actor performing them.
Breaking the fourth wall
My character breaks what is called the fourth wall in the theatre and speaks to the audience directly for a lot of the play, much like soliloquies in Shakespeare. So, the audience is very much an active participant in the story and joins my character Undine through her journey. She looks directly into their eyes and shares her most intimate thoughts with them. I hope this won't freak some of you out, lol. My acting professor, Michael Connolly, says people in the audience usually do one of two things: either turn away averting their gaze or keep eye contact with the actor and somewhat engage. During rehearsals the audience isn't there of course, so I mostly speak to blank white walls. The energy when an audience arrives will be much different, and I hope it enhances my work and doesn't spook me too much!
Currently, I'm getting off book, which means putting my script down in rehearsals and trying to memorize the lines all the while remembering my blocking, acting and making choices for my character. It can be brain overload at times. Thanks to our wonderful stage manger and his assistants all I have to do is call for a line or ask where I was supposed to move to and they are usually there with a helping hand. Hopefully within the next week I will be completely memorized and can feel freer to play. I'll let ya'll know how that goes. Until next time...
Behind the Scenes
Hello Bloggers! I'm really eager to begin sharing my rehearsal process with you all. Hopefully by the end of this, you all will have a better understand of what we basically do to put a show up for performance. Every show is unique and works a little differently, but the basics are all still there. So, here we go!
The cast of “Fabulation” includes about eight actors but the show contains numerous characters, so everyone but myself will be playing multiple characters, (which in itself should be fun). We are currently ending our third week of rehearsal.
Week one consisted of table work in which we all read through the script several times out loud asking and answering questions about the play and its characters to get a better understanding of the story and how to go about telling it.
Week two was devoted to blocking the show, which simply means putting it on its feet and marking where each character moves and when. This last week and for the next few weeks we will continue to work the play on its feet, concentrating on specific moments.
A Change of Pace
Today was a nice change of pace. Our incredible director Stan Wojewodski thought it would be cool if instead of rehearsals we went to the Dallas Theatre Center to watch Da Verse Lounge poetry night where 21-year-olds and younger present their spoken word poetry. It was beyond incredible and inspiring to see what such young minds had to say and in such lyrical way. Kevin, who plays Herve/Guy in the play, even got up and presented a piece. The next poetry night is Nov. 10 and I was so artistically inspired by this art form, that I'm highly considering writing and performing my own piece then. You guys should come! It's free admission with free Starbucks coffee!!! Tonight was motivating and was a nice reminder why I do what I do. Talk to all of you soon.