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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.”

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