Rehearsals!!!!!!!!!!!!! My heaven. My playground. The sex room for my creativity. For years I used to view rehearsals as tedious, time consuming, and a waste of my talents until the real magic happened when there was an audience. I can't tell you when I converted to the ways of the artist, but I'm at a place now where I'd rather rehearse than actually perform. Rehearsals are the time to explore into the conscious and unconscious depths of our own minds and our characters. We do "plays" because that's what they should be. A time to play. The reason most actors don't have 9-5 jobs is because they don't want to "work". But the moment those actors get on stage and have 4 weeks to rehearse a show, they become narrow minded, stressed, academic, and goal oriented. Why? Because it all comes down to the nights of the performances. Will the people in the audience like them? Will they impress their friends? Will they impress their professors? Can they make other actors in the audience realize they are watching superior acting and should long to deliver lines the way they have crafted them to sound? That's all fucking horseshoe.
The only people who judge other actors performances are other actors. The general community goes to the theater to be entertained and usually are turned off by actors who are so into their own performances, how they look, and want to have all the attention when they're speaking. They don't know why they're turned off, probably because they're at the theater to enjoy themselves and they're confused why there is such banal crap in front of them. My professor Kate had the quote of the lifetime last week. In one of her heightened speeches to the masses (but only 8 of us are sitting there) she was criticizing us for making so many safe choices. "Why do millions of people go watch sports on a nightly basis? Because it's interesting! Challenging! Unpredictable! Attention grabbing! Why have millions of people stop going to the theater? Because it's boring! Predictable! Mundane! We've seen it before!!!" It's our job to grab the attention of our audiences and that's done by showing them a side of life they haven't experienced before.
Why do certain celebrities get so much fame and attention? Idiots like The Situation, Lindsay Lohan, and Charlie Sheen? Because they are 3 dimensional people who were are enamored by. By witnessing their actions and words, we cannot believe the things they do and are surprised daily by the things they actually continue to do. Why are we not able to do that as actors for the characters we play? We make the safest choices, play generic emotions, say our lines with no idea where it's coming from or what we want, forget about the element of surprise, and play all of the greatest characters written as any person that is walking down the street. What is so safe about Charlie Sheen? Wouldn't we pay big money to see someone play a character that they have flushed out as deep as Charlie Sheen? We have trouble finding the connection between words on a page and a full living, breathing character that affects the people around them in the same way.
We do this by rehearsing. 90% of actors will get their script, highlight their lines, memorize their lines, learn their blocking, say the lines they memorized, repeat that every single night until closing night of the show. They'll put the show on their resume, become facebook friends with everyone in the show, tell everyone what they hated about being in the show, and then try to get another show and repeat the process. Kill me.
I know certain actors who don't like to work with me. They consider myself slightly dangerous on stage, but never in the manner I'd hurt somebody. My core training has stemmed from the Atlantic Theater Company, Improv, and Meisner. In all three places, the rule is "We don't know what's going to happen on stage". That not only makes it exciting for the audience, but pretty fucking amazing for the actors too. By the time we open, we have a frame, we have very specific moments that need to happen, we have studied the role to know what might happen and what wouldn't happen, but besides that outline……………….Let's play. By the time the show opens, the exploration play lessens and the moments between actors are the times of unpredictability. But bring on rehearsal!!! Give me a playground, a director who wants to explore, and a cast who sees a vast land before them with the potential that we will build the next New York City, and I'm in heaven. I don't know the answers when I start a show. When I do find an answer, there's part of me that figures that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've been doing it ABC lately, well I'll try XYZ, then I'll try ^$#. Who knows? It gives me an actor hard on to know that something that I find could change the way this character is perceived that has never been thought of before. Nothing feels better than being on stage with an actor that when you look them in the eye, you are both so comfortable with your characters that no matter what happens, you'll be able to respond truthfully and honestly and not ruin the show that has been written. That's why we love certain sitcom characters that we could put in any position and know how they'd react. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, Kramer from Seinfeld, Barney from How I Met Your Mother. These are characters that we want to make every single show we ever do as rich as. The answers aren't in a book somewhere. They're from our past, our present, our imaginations, our collaborations, our intelligence, the children inside of us, our experiences, and an infinite amount of other places we hold inside of each and every one of us.
I'll leave you with this. Stop boring me. I'll stop boring you. Make me want to watch you, care about you, identify with you, love you, hate you, laugh at you, cry with you. Stop performing for me. Communicate with me. Get in the rehearsal room and explore as many parts as the character as you can in the allotted time. Because if someone was playing you on stage……..it would take them years to connect to who you truly are.