Acting is Weird

So, since it’s been over 5 years since I’ve last performed, (and my first full production as an actor for Forum), I thought I’d write a bit about the experience. I’m currently rehearsing for bobrauschenbergamerica and playing the role of Wilson, the hapless, confused, romantic who pines for Susan and a greater understanding of love. It’s a super fun role and has me really excited about being onstage again.

That said:

Acting is weird.

And kinda hard.

Has it only been 5 years? It feels like 25. We had our initial “on feet” rehearsal a few days ago and it was not disimilar to using my legs for the first time. I felt like my lower body was attempting to speaking Chinese and my upper body was in a straightjacket.

Now, as a director, I can rock out some table work. I can intellectualize the hell out a script—it’s my way in. So, for those rehearsals, I felt great. In fact, I really enjoyed the process of delving into a single character and doing all the work I wish I could as a director.

Working out the through line for my character (Wilson) in such a non-linear play is teaching me a great deal about how to work with an actor in such a process when I direct, next. Derek Goldman is hands-on, thoughtful, and questioning in all the ways you’d ask for in a process like this. I’m sure his background in devising and writing plays a factor in this and it’s been a great learning experience, already.

But then came time to get “up on feet.” Full-time actors: you truly have a great gift and amount of skill. I have always respected the ability of my fellow collaborators, but having been out of the game of acting for so long, I’m in awe of the level of focus you bring to a show.

Trust me–these early parts of the rehearsal process are delicate, frustrating, self-conscious, and confusing. It’s a lesson in patience and awkwardness and failure. I can hear my own director voice reminding me to “make big choices! Throw any idea onto the wall!” and my new actor voice responding with various versions of “I FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT MOVING THIS WAY AND SAYING THAT LIKE THIS!”

Add to this the fact that bob contains a great deal of dancing. Now, old friends of mine will remember that I did show choir in high school. These same acquaintances will also be aware of how unsuccessful my efforts at graceful movement were. Kelly Mayfield, our amazing choreographer (who somehow has more energy than any of us, despite being mere weeks away from giving birth) has encouraged us to find how we move naturally and embrace our mistakes. Let’s just say dance step failure has become a “character quirk” for me.

We still have a few weeks to sculpt and play. Tonight is the dreaded “off-book” night….another big event in my other-side-of-the-room adventure. Hopefully, I’ll put up another post closer to opening. Make sure you get your tickets—there are some amazing folks involved with this project and a really fun script that I think you will all enjoy.

….and if that’s not enough, there’s the curiosity factor of seeing me onstage. Probability level of me tripping and falling during a dance number is very high 🙂

–Michael

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2 responses to “Acting is Weird

  1. Earn that paycheck!

  2. What a fantastic thing! I always think its great fun rediscovering the difficulties of acting. I feel like i have to remind myself ever production. JMU just did bobrauschenbergamerica not too long ago. It was my first experience with the show. So i’m stoked to see it another production.

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