Tuesday, May 19, 2009
An Actor lets it all hang out
Show time is nearing and as some of you know I will be apprearing with a rather terrific ensemble of actors in Terrence McNalley's Some Men. It is being produced at the New Conservatory Theater here in San Francisco at 25 Van Ness.
In the last play I performed with the Eastenders in November of 07, I portrayed a brilliant, but slovenly unattractive playwright named Marvin who had some SERIOUS low self-esteem issues, not to mention he was hopelessly in love with his room mate. (T-Shirts by Robert Patrick) It had a nude scene. Yes -I donned my Birthday Suit for a mere $175 for something like 6 performances. My character felt ugly and unloved and was ANGRY at how Gay culture had no place for him. The ugly-fying that was done to me was simply a pair of large glasses. (My idea) Now how could a pair of glasses make a cutie like me plain? Supposedly that was the director's point. The Gay aesthetic is so warped that even a pleasantly attractive guy like me can't cut it. I admit whole heartedly that delving into Marvin's psyche left me feeling bereft at times. I was determined to make my next character "pretty"...Well as pretty as I can be at any rate.
One Month later, Artistic Director, Ed Decker asked me to audition for SOME MEN. It's a series of short scenes depicting pivotal events in Gay Male history with the common thread of love and marriage to bind it all together. The scenes go back and forth in time and may appear confusing to the linear thinking folk out there but if you look and listen you can see why 2007 precedes 1927 and so on and so on. (It wasn't apparent to me reading it but that explains why McNalley is a successful playwright. When you hear the show,it all makes sense.) BUT I DIGRESS!
In one scene we depict characters all on the internet looking for a hook up. My character's name is Buffed in Chelsea and is more like Bloated in Chelsea I am blatantly lying about my looks in order to snag some poor sap who takes a train to see me and will have a pity F#*k with me. One of the other Internet characters rats on me to another in the chat room and lets him know I am indeed FAT AND 50. I was disheartened to find myself cast yet again as the poor fat unattractive dope. I nearly consumed the head of the casting guy when he called me to say I had gotten that role! However! As I said, this is a COLLECTION of different scenes and that is ONE of the characters I play.
My two most prominent characters are a Military father attending his own son's funeral. His son had fought and been killed in the Iraq war. Another soldier shows up at the funeral and dramatic-Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell-surprises ensue. Buy a ticket because I sank almost everything I got into those two little pages and I won't reveal the surprises.
The second character is a Doctor -New Yawk Jewish Doctah. I play this character in three consecutive scenes. My character is Gay and has a lover that ends up being a lifetime romance. Sadly, my lover dies before I do but we detail our forty odd year Long Term Relationship to two young research students in an interview that has some lovely serio-comic moments. I also get to act with New Conservatory mega star Patrick Michael Dukeman. I saw Patrick decades ago in a hilarious send up of The Hardy Boys and he's done nothing but impress me since. Many of the theater subscribers have been asking is I was ever going to so something with him and bam here we are playing lovers! He's been a NCTC staple and long time collaborator with Artistic Director Ed Decker. The last time Ed and I worked together was in another McNalley show called "Love! Valor!Compassion!" quite a few years ago. Ed's directorial style is conducive to my acting style-in that it's a safe environment for me to explore what I have to do to make the scene work. He's not fond of the mind fuck power trip that so many directors who I have worked in the past with seem to rely on. Patrick is also a cinch to work with because of the wealth of research and ideas he has for the characters and scenes. Some of you who were dead sure that I was the bitch-Diva from hell to work with, would be surprised to know I let him take the reins in our scenes together. He's smart and perceptive so a Vegas show-girl like myself only has to show up and play my beats. There's been some speculation that our characters are strongly based on McNalley himself. Who knows? According to our cast mates the scene is a definite high light.
So it's costume week. We are all working with the costume designer to help define our characters. This is semi-professional non-profit theater folks. It's just one lady pulling items from a large stock of items and she has a budget of like 25 dollars. In the internet scene she had me in a very nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt and a lovely spacious CASHMERE sweater vest. It's actually something I would wear to work on any given cool day. It didn't compute..I am on the internet ...looking for sex. As I stated earlier ..my character is referred to as fat and 50 so...I consulted the director and the costume designer and opted for an ill fitting pair of swim trunks and black dress socks. -no shirt ..I NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE THAT 10 YEARS AGO. Times change...people change.. We learn to let go and care a little less about what people think. So when they are talking about my big fat belly -I will FIT the role...LOL