I am still very passionate about my current show, Hello Dolly! however that is ending this coming weekend and I’m already preparing for my next two shows – both part of the South Shore Theatre Four Play series. Tonight I drove home quickly after leaving Aunt Audrey’s funeral to pick up Nathaniel and then together we arrived at the theatre to meet with Joey Ferguson, who is directing Breathe.
Breathe is a ten minute show written by Rosaleen Egan, that will be performed alongside another show called Three Week Run by Neil Wicks on June 1st. Nathaniel and I play two different Police Detectives at different stages of their career who are investigating a crime scene. It’s a three character scene, with a fourth actor being brought in to read the stage directions as we are not actually acting out the actions that are in the script. Instead, we will perform the dialogue as written while seated and rely on the narrator to fill in the gaps.
Scene study and motivation are very important to this process. Even though we are not acting out the action, we need to thoroughly understand what exactly is happening so that the way we perform our lines matches with the attitude and movements that the characters would do. So, our rehearsal was filled with analysis of each line and of the relationships between the characters. Who am I? What do we think of each other?
It goes back to the trope of the actor yelling out to their director, “What’s my motivation?”
Just because there is a lot of words on a page doesn’t mean we should just read them out loud in a flat voice like one would read an oldschool overhead projector slide in class (yes, my hand was always up fast when the teacher asked for a volunteer). We need to think of all the ups and downs and pacing changes that the individual character would emit through their emotions. It’s a great exercise that I have developed for years through my own dialogue memorization process (coming soon to this blog as I transfer posts over). It’s part of the have fun process of theatre and part of listening very intently to what the director wants. It’s one of the reasons theatre has always been attractive to me as I love speech to the point where I see it as a type of music. Go faster, go slower. Lift your voice here. Go down here. Be demanding. Be passive. We all does this naturally when we speak in natural conversation but for some reason most people don’t think of that when they read words on a page.
Just because Breathe is a short piece doesn’t mean it’s fluff. It’s a neat scene study that I look forward to developing more with the cast. And most importantly to me personally, it’s the very first show I’m performing with my son. That means a lot to me.
I will update more as we continue, and will have a separate post about my other show for Four Play, Between The Lines since it is a completely different and surprisingly personal show to me about a particular aspect of World War II.
In the meantime, tomorrow night we are back on stage tomorrow night to start the last weekend run of Hello Dolly! Hope to see some of you there!