Invalidpost 4: tech

Tech is tense. Lillian has invented an elaborate comic dumb show as a prologue, in which we make the obligatory cell phone announcement, sponsor thanks and subscription beg entirely without words. She keeps using “commedia” as a stylistic guide: “Do the commedia bow!”, “Can you make the dance more commedia?” And I hear the lusty roar of Antonio Fava from across the ocean: “There is no such thiiiing!” He has made me a commedia purist, and I have been cringing a bit as I execute what I consider faux commedia, precisely the kind of generalized performance that will remind American audiences of something that seems vaguely European and “classical”, but actually refers to nothing specific. Still, what Lillian has invented is energetic, colorful and fun and a great improvement over the monotonous announcements that precede all plays in the regions these days. The problem is that it’s very complicated and we only began rehearsing it when we got to tech, and nobody on the technical staff had a clue it was coming. Consequently, this prologue which, when executed well, should last barely five minutes, has eaten up large swaths of time the tech staff thought we would be using for the bulk of the play. And we haven’t added costumes yet.

Lillian also gave me a big adjustment late in the game for Thomas, the lummox suitor. I had developed a series of comic gestures to over-illustrate these two speeches Thomas gives when he arrives, which are clearly meant to sound like something he learned from a manual. I got hoots of laughter throughout rehearsal with these speeches, and was proud of my comic invention. “Try it without the gestures” said Lillian to me abruptly on the second day of tech. You can’t be serious I thought, but bit my tongue. So I did, and the speeches fell over like blocks of granite. “So, add back in only the gestures which are the really good ones” she said later. Arg.

But I know she’s right. The speeches had become about my little comic inventions, and Thomas has to be plausibly human as well as a nearly retarded clown. He is also someone who is fond of “quoting the ancients”, so it’s important that we hear him deliver these speeches, deliver them badly, but intelligibly. So I employed some comic pruning late in the game and reminded myself of The Four Fold Way: be open to outcome, not attached to outcome. I am now wearing fake teeth which are a combination of the dentist’s and Griffen’s. I have glued Griffen’s on the piece the dentist made for me, so they read from the audience. They are appropriately ghastly, and don’t fall out of my mouth.

I have been reflecting on my own need to be included: in plays, in discussions, in meetings. I have seen that the drama of my life has influenced the drama of my art, and I believe this is true of all artists. Our lives and histories shape us, and the designs we make will always bear some hint of the original mold. Part of my essential shape is a deep fear of being forgotten, abandoned, left out, overlooked. This makes me drawn to inclusion, and to seek ways to make sure I am noticed.