Sunday, February 26, 2006
In Friday's improv show, we did a game called "Late for Work," in which I played an employee trying to explain to my boss why I was late. The catch was that I was the only person in the theater who didn't know the reason, which was based on suggestions from the audience. Fortunately, I had two helpful coworkers standing behind the boss, acting it out. I figured out fairly early on that my anal region was involved somehow, but for some reason it took me a few dozen wild guesses to figure out that I had stopped off for an enema. (Again, these suggestions come from the audience, so don't blame me.) Backstage, I commented that I didn't think I had ever said the word "ass" in front of my parents before, and I had just said it 50 times in the space of two minutes. My director then told me it was my mother who suggested that the bag had burst. Coincidentally, I will also say "ass" several times in "Much Ado About Nothing," but that's different because it's Shakespeare.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Last night I had my first audition by phone. I was up for a brief voice-over in a short film. The director was supposed to call me and listen to me read the sides, but somehow I never got the sides, so he explained the scenario to me and asked me to improv something, which I did. There was a moment of silence, during which I thought, well, that's that; I'll never hear from him again. Then he said something to the effect o, that was almost exactly what he had in mind when he wrote it. Then he asked me to try another part, and I did, and he said that was maybe even better than what he wrote. So he called me back later that night and offered me an on-camera role. On a related note, tomorrow night at 8 I perform improv with the Berubians at The Second Stage, 431 N. Brookhurst, Anaheim, Calif. What's a Berubian? Come learn the terrifying answer for only $10.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
As an actor who takes responsibility seriously, I would never show up on the night of a performance under the influence of opiates, at least without letting my director and fellow cast members know. At the start of last Wednesday's improv workshop, the leader told us not to be afraid to leave the stage for a moment and come back when it served the scene. I eagerly volunteered for the first exercise and soon put his advice into action, only to discover that someone, whom I will call F.N. Idiot, had placed a 2x2x2-foot wooden cube directly behind the blackout curtain at the exit I had chosen. I'll just lie here in agony for a few minutes and go back out when I'm ready, I thought to myself, but soon I heard someon calling my character's name, so I gamely and lamely staggered back on stage and sat down. I could hear people talking to me, but couldn't understand what they were saying. As a master of improv, I covered by saying, "I can hear you talking to me, but I can't understand what you're saying." After the scene, I limped off stage, feeling a sense of accomplishment for having completed the exercise. Fearless Leader then stood up in front of the assembly and said, "That was horrible!", stretching the third word out for about five seconds and making a face as if he had just mistaken a cat turd for Almond Roca. At that moment, I learned that harsh criticism, even from a mentor, is not the most painful thing in the world. Compared to a knee injury, it hardly rates. Wounded yet somehow less vulnerable than before, I made my way through another exercise that night. Some people thought the limp was an affectation, but the more observant were beginning to suspect something was seriously wrong. I was still in denial myself, and got up again for the final exercise of the day, but my body had other ideas. While our leader was explaining the rules of the game, I begin to feel cold sweat running down my face, and a queasiness in my stomach, and I quietly left the stage. After the workshop broke up, a couple of people offered to drive me home or to the hospital, but I was kind of shrugging it off until I realized I was too dizzy to drive myself. So about four hours later, after getting X-rays, a tetanus shot and a parting dose of morphine, I rode back to the theater with my friend Mike, a funny guy and a real mensch. I spent the night there and drove to work Thursday morning, from where I called the director of "Hitchhiker's" and told him that I was still willing to do the show, but didn't think I could do all the leaps and falls that I had been doing. I also said I would understand if he decided to step into the role (as writer and the director, he knew the lines). He assured me that was not going to happen. So I e-mailed the cast to warn them that my performance might be very different because of the injury and the painkillers. They were very understanding and adapted their own performances marvelously. They also tell me I said and did some very funny and surprising things. I'll have to take their word for it until I see the video. I do think that not being able to rely so much on the wild flailing and crashing about may have inspired me to dig deeper and find comedic opportunities I had missed before, so injuring myself my have actually helped my performance. I wouldn't recommend it, though.
Friday, February 03, 2006
OK, I confess, I've been going to a weekly improv workshop, and on February 24, 2006, I will be performing as part of an improv ensemble at the Second Stage (431 N. Brookhurst, Anaheim; admission is a paltry $10). Now, loyal and attentive readers might remember when I wrote that I wasn't interested in that sort of thing, and at the time it was true. But I sort of stumbled across this workshop while doing another show at the theater, and I liked the low-key, informal vibe almost as much as the fact that I wasn't being charged anything for the privilege. I decided to attend on a drop-in basis, and ended up dropping in every week until I dropped right into a show. It could be a one-night-stand or a long-term relationship, depending on how that first date goes.