opinions about life, work, and spirituality

The Saddest Girl Rehearses with a Bubble-Head

April 19th, 2008

Rehearsals began this past Monday, and so far, they are a blast. It is wonderfully enjoyable to incarnate the characters I’ve written about for the last few months. I was nervous when we first began, of course. “My goodness, I have to be embodied?!”, but after half an hour of working, I was physically and emotionally engaged (yes, I know, acting isn’t about emotions, but they do seem to be the result of listening and going for goals). I credit this to my director. Dirk is a terrific artistic guide; he inspires exploration, freedom and a delight in the process. Kathy, my super dramaturg, was also present during the past rehearsals to chisel away at the rough bits in the script.

It’s been a very interesting process for me so far. When I act, I become a bubble-head. That is, I don’t think analytically or logically. I listen, go for goals, and follow through with actions. I’ve discovered that I have a hard time explaining my choices in any kind of intelligent way, and I don’t seem to be able to philosophize about the story once I’m in acting mode. It’s an intuitive, instinctual process. Playwriting is also intuitive and instinctual for me, but I am more logical and analytical about the over-arching story structure. During rehearsals, as both the playwright and the actor, I have to very quickly step into the contrasting roles. I will be acting, and then, something about the script will pop up, and I will have to make an intelligent decision about whether to cut something or to leave it, or how to rephrase a certain sentence. Then I quickly step out of playwriting mode and return to acting.

I think the overall effect of jumping back and forth from acting to playwriting is that the decisions I’ve made about my play this past week have been very intuitive. Is that a good thing? I think sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not. Right now I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK, and according to Gladwell, decisions made in a split-second (in intuition/from the gut) can be just as smart, if not smarter, than decisions made through a long and thorough process of analysis. It depends upon what need to be decided. Certain questions about my script posed during rehearsals this week never got answered. (Hopefully they weren’t too important. Hee hee.) The walls of my analytical mind are made out of rubbery jello when I’m acting, and a big question jiggles and bounces around my logical brain like a kid in a bouncy castle; it never lands anywhere solid.

Even now, as I write this post, I’m feeling a bit bubble headed. I don’t mind being a dummy. It makes me a smart actor. I just hope Kathy doesn’t mind so much when, in an attempt to answer a logical question about my play, I stare at her with an expression like a happy dog’s and thickly utter, “Ha ha. Oh. Uh, I dunno.”

What the heck is this play about?

April 9th, 2008

A few people have asked me what the play is about, and not wanting to give it all away, I’ll give you the publicity blurb I’ve sent the different Fringe Festivals which includes a very nice quote from PT’s Mr. Reed:

“Tina’s writing has the vitality and theatrical instincts she brings to the stage as a performer, combined with a poetic sensibility and imagination that is distinctly writerly. With each new work she moves from strength to strength.” Ron Reed, Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre.

An unforgiving victim of war. A naïve, lonely Vancouverite. Join two characters, one vibrant actor in a captivating story of blood, dreams, and jewels.

The Saddest Girl will begin to rehearse!

April 9th, 2008

Yesterday was the second reading of THE SADDEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. I was very suprised at people’s responses to the piece in progress; there were very few comments about things to work on. Usually I walk away from a reading with three pages of notes and hundreds of questions to be answered (especially when it’s a reading of LUDDITES!). There are still a few aspects of the play that need strengthening – one character’s stakes (Ava’s) need to be clarified and a sense of isolation brought back into her journey.

I was very encouraged by the positive feedback I recieved yesterday. One person stated the piece was beautiful, another e-mailed me to say she was simply delighted by it, and yet another told me how she, as an immigrant, really enjoyed, got caught up in, and empathized with Natya’s story. The overall concensus yesterday was that TSGW is ready for the next step in the process.

So, after making the few changes in the script, Dirk and I will begin rehearsals next Tuesday. Very exciting!

TSGW’s Poster Photo

April 5th, 2008

The Saddest Girl; Babies and Playgrounds

April 5th, 2008

I am excited about the next reading of TSGW, especially because I feel that so much progress has been made since the last reading. Much of this progress is due to my dramaturg’s urgings. (Well, okay, I did have to do the hard work of scrapping old passages and writing new ones!) There is still so much work to be done before Tuesday, however, so I definitely need all time available on Monday to concentrate on whether the journeys are clear, ensure the stakes are high, and be honest with my characters.

One thing that has bothered me this past week is the reality of publicity and marketing needs. I often feel so pulled between my desire and need to write, and the infinite demands of publicity. Neither can be ignored; if my writing is abondoned, there won’t be a play, but likewise, if the publicity work is shrugged off, there won’t be any people to see the play. And I’m not the kind of artist who writes or acts in a vacuum. Although I truly love the process of playwriting and rehearsing a play, the work is for other people to participate in, engage with, and enjoy. So, I simply can’t slough off publicity work. I have to remind myself that when I toil with marketing, I am not abondoning my baby (my art), but rather building a playground in which my toddler will one day play with others. That does, of course, assume that I spend lots of time to nurture and feed my baby so that she, indeed, grows to be a toddler!