Opening Night in One Week

I found my blog on google search today which felt a bit like a minor miracle.  We are now finable on the internet.  Hallelujah.  Those people who write about blogs say if you want to be successful you have to be both prolific and patient.  This I will work on.  In the meantime, Yay for one step closer to success!

Rehearsal again tonight for "MilkMilkLemonade" by Joshua Conkel.  Pretty much every night now until we open on the 9th.  Equal parts worry and excitement here, which is the norm for me around this time.  This last seven days will be about adjusting to the set, the new make-up and costume pieces (which can really help in finding the character) and cementing some bits and intentions.  If I can be ready in a week, have the show in my muscle memory so much so that it's second nature, then I'll be free enough to do some good work.  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work to get ready, there's nothing like a few nights of the pressures and adrenaline that an audience brings to get the show lodged in there.  That's why the actors always encourage people to wait until the second weekend for it to solidify.  Because it really does matter. 

We're supposed to have a feature piece in the Austin Chronicle next week and I did a grief interview for it, so hopefully they'll use a quote or two of mine.  I tried to be honest and give it a little import, but not sound too pretensious and take myself too seriously.  I mean, I'm playing a talking chicken who aspires to being a stand-up comedian, but first has to avoid the chicken processing machine.  It's outrageous, and wholly absurd.  But it does cover some important topics, like the struggle to remain true to yourself, the tension between bullies and those they oppress, gender non-conformity.  It's all done in a campy, brutal, honest and thoughtful tone.

When I read the script I just fell in love with its uniqueness and the fact that it was getting this voice out there.  Sure there are plenty of shows with gay themes out there, but so many of them seem to take themselves so seriously when they deal with "issues", and this one doesn't.  Much.  At the time I read it I wasn't too familiar with The Shrewds work (that's the company producing the show) but I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I didn't know what part I had a shot at either, but there were a couple I related to, and I knew that the playwright encouraged gender "flexibility" when it came to casting, so I thought I might have a shot. 

When I got there the first night they did not read me for Linda.  No, they read me for the cancerous grandmother.  I think I read her well, but it just wasn't a fit.  I was either too sweet and loving or too "fabulous" and intense, like a Mommie Dearest.  Nana is a Home Depot shopping, rough talking woman and I just couldn't get my head around her.  No problem, though, as at the callback they gave me a shot at Linda the Chicken which is essentially the part of a woman in peril, and that's something I can get my teeth into.  That I can do.  After my reading the director told me he liked what I was doing and while he hadn't thought of casting Linda as a man, he thought it worked. 

photo by Kimberley Mead

Since getting cast I've been working on getting the moves down, making the part the perfect combo of real chicken and children's theatre type presentation that the show calls for.  I think I've almost got it, but it ain't always easy to know.  At first I thought I should be a lot more literal with her.  Make her as much like a chicken as possible, but at some point I made the conscious choice not worry so much about reality as much.  To trust myself and my instincts.  As a result the part is a little more like Betty White in the episode of "The Golden Girls" in which they perform Henney Penny for the grade schoolers than it is like a flesh and blood chicken,  but I think it works.  Time will tell.