When inanimate objects look like cast members.
It’s like a bleedin’ rollercoaster round ‘ere. Only on Tuesday I was whingeing about a bad rehearsal, and now I’m telling you that last night was a lot better. Well, a bit better. We were rehearsing scenes which I’m a lot more confident with, so it went pretty smoothly.
We also rehearsed the dance scene, where KC and I glide round the floor like glidey things, except I don’t cos I can’t dance [ref: this blog passim]. I’m assured this will be presentable by curtain up.
The Court Scene rehearsal gave me the opportunity to slip into the Amazing Line Learning Kitchen and put it through its paces. And once again, it worked! I now know nearly all of my characters final triumphant speech. There’s hope yet.
Of course, there’s no point telling you all of this if you don’t have a ticket already, because every performance except the Saturday Matinee and Evening is completely sold out! Apparently some men are kicking a ball around in Greece that afternoon, and that’s more interesting than the play, so there are still tickets available for those performances. Snap them up while you can!
My Beloved Director told me last night in the
snug of the Horse and Groom blarey-sport-music-TV-hell of the Hand & Racquet that one scene requires me to take my clothes off. The script requires it; I will do it. That is all.
I’m already being screamed at, pummelled, and slapped, why not go the whole fucking hog.
That pretty much sums it up. We rehearsed the whole second half last night, which I should know 100%. Instead, I know about 15%. KMcG tried to help me, in the Amazing Line Learning Kitchen, with little success. The speech I tried to learn was one of those where, instead of a flow of speech with a clear order, it’s a series of single statements. And I, of course, get them in the wrong order. Heavens, I got so frustrated I threw a coin at the wall!
I know, I know, I’ll do it in the end. I did it for Marat/Sade, and Much Ado. My friends are all being very supportive, and I know all it takes is patience and work, and time spent just actively learning the lines, instead of staring blankly at the page with all the green highlighter.
So once again, out come the MD player, the pad, the pencil, the mirror, the guarana, the suspension-upside-down-to-get-blood-to-the-brain ankle harnesses. I’ll nail this.
These posts are getting a bit self-pitying aren’t they? Tough.
I hit it at last night’s rehearsal, but I didn’t quite break through it. A couple of speeches were attempted, with pretty faltering results. I had to give up and grab my script, which was a bit disappointing. But while the rest of the cast rehearsed the court scene (nice and long, a good break for me) I disappeared into the community centre kitchen to thrash through my lines. It worked! I’m now off book for 2 major scenes, which is a relief.
So what is the secret of line learning? Judging by the community centre kitchen, the following things help:
- Pus-coloured paintwork
- Extreme damp, leading to heavy flaking in aforesaid paintwork
- Belfast sink with wooden draining boards
- Wall-mounted water heater
- Discarded Alcoholics Anonymous paperwork
I’d better hit Ebay to put together my own ‘Line Learning Room’ at home. Fablon’s due for a comeback anyway.
As well as singing, it turns out certain scenes also contain what can only be described as ‘movement’. So now I must remember lines, remember to say lines, and remember dance moves in time to music. I fear the West End is not calling. Still, I’ve been here before, so I should be able to manage it again. My character’s not supposed to look dignified, is he?
As for line learning, the nerves are starting to kick in, but I think that with some prompting, I should be able to punch through the pain barrier, bearing in mind it’s not just my pain, it’s everyone listening’s pain as well. And if I don’t, I guess The Beloved Director will punch me. It’s nothing less than I deserve!
We’ve heard a little about costume now as well. It’s suits, basically, which is easy. I can do suits. I can do shabby, I can do smart, I can do drab, but I can’t do plaid, which is a relief. What I also need is the hair. My hair is just getting too long at the moment – floppy and shapeless, and not in a floppy-fringed-indie-kid way. So what’s needed is a trip to the hairdresser to say, “Can you give me a haircut like Adolf Hitler, please”. See how that goes down.
As for the famous moustache, I’m going to have that appear halfway through the play, so it needs to be a fake one, stuck on with spirit gum. This is a relief for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t really want to walk around with a Hitler ‘tache for the show week. Two, it wouldn’t be just the show week anyway. As described before I have a problem growing facial hair – it takes a long time. I’d need to start now, which would either mean walking around with a Hitler ‘tache for a month, or more likely, but no less nauseating, growing a miniature (aka ‘goateeeeee’) beard, and them shaving off the bits I don’t need. But growing one of those is out of the question
I do have some pride.
Rehearsals continue apace. I’ve been recording various scenes and long speeches with my trusty Minidisc recorder, and playing them back in glorious Oh-God-Do-I-Sound-Like-That-O-Scope.
And it’s not just talking either. Just because one of the scenes is written in straight verse, The Beloved Director has decided that there wasn’t enough music in the play, and this scene is now sung. A duet between Betty Bullfeet and Arturo Ui, aka Kirsty and me. I’ve transferred the minidisc to my PC using Audacity, and now I’m in the process of editing the bad bits out, exporting to MP3, adding to my iTunes library, and burning CDs for my fellow cast members. Hard work, made harder by the fact that my voice seemed really off in the recordings. An aberration!
Having a full script from day one is a bit of a novelty, after doing plays that were written around the cast as the rehearsals moved on. This way I know from the beginning that I have too many lines, and I’ll never learn them all, but I want to learn them all, and I don’t want any of them to be cut, because who wants that? Every actor wants more lines.
You will never hear a sane actor say, “[Director’s name], I think this three-page speech rambles a bit, and it doesn’t add to the character’s development or the story arc and I don’t think people want to sit and look at me and listen to me. I think we should trim it a bit.”
But there is a hell of a lot of green highlighter in my script, and it’s a bit daunting. Still I have my battery of high-powered script-learning techniques to help me out.
- Scribbling the lines on a filched notepad with a filched biro, then checking to if I have them correct. Repeat.
- Reading the script again and again. Not as effective.
- Record a rehearsal on-book* with my creaking steam-powered Minidisc recorder. I will then transfer these recordings to MP3 and put them on my shiny modern iPod, which doesn’t record, and has no MIC in socket. Then I can listen to the scene again and again on the train and in bed. (*with script in hand, as opposed to ‘off-book’ which is the goal)
- Face to Face rehearsals with a co-actor are the best. They get you through a speech and force you to do it again and again.
One of these must work, surely…
Despite the serious backstory, The Resistible of Arturo Ui, or Ui as I will call it from now on, has a certain amount of black humour and music, which helps to fill in the story. While congratulating each other earlier today, I suggested to Kristen (playing Givola aka Goebbels in the play) that we could do one scene like the intro sequence from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Five minutes later, she came back with this:
Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute to jump right in
and I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Berlin.
In Vienna I was born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some Poles outside of the school
When Churchill and Eisenhower said “you’re up to no good”
And started making trouble in my Neighbourhood.
I got in one little war and my mom got psyched
And said “you’re moving to the motherland to start up the Reich”.
I begged and pleaded with her the other day
But she packed my suitcase and sent me on my way.
She gave me a kissin’ and she gave me my ticket
I put on my jackboots and said I might as well kick it.
First class, yo this is bad,
Drinking orange juice out of a champagne glass
Is this what the people of Berlin livin’ like,
Hmm this might be alright!
I whistled for a cab and when it came near
the Licensplate said “Fritz” and had a dice in the mirror
If anything I could say that this cab was fine
But I thought no forget it, yo home to the Rhine
I pulled up to Mein Kamp about seven or eight
And I yelled to the cabby “Yo, home, heil you later”
Looked at my kingdom I was finally in.
To sit on my throne as the prince of Berlin.
Historically, it may me slightly innaccurate, but you must agree, it’s STOOPID FRESH, yo.
I’ve been cast as Arturo Ui in the play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertholt Brecht. As you can see, it’s the title role and as a result I’m very very pleased and excited. Thank you Mike (my beloved director)!
Written in 1941 the play, according to the back of the script, is
… a savage and witty parable of the rise of Hitler, recast by Brecht into a small-time gangster’s takeover of the city’s greengrocery trade … wide range of parody and pastiche – from Richard III to Al Capone, from Mark Antony to Faust – without diminishing the horror of the real-life Nazi prototypes.
I’m extra pleased because when this play is finished, I will have played Hitler, Satan and the Marquis de Sade. No typecasting here!
First rehearsal tonight!