Sunday, August 16, 2009

Voices Off

So my friend L-- is directing one of five short plays (scenes, really) written for the Stone Soup Collaborative. The plays are being performed as stage readings, and will be presented next Tuesday for one evening only as a fundraiser.

"So how do you feel about playing he voice of an 11-year-old boy?" L-- emailed.

"Sure," I said.

The gig is pretty easy: The script is nine pages long, I'm never seen, and I just call my lines from offstage. There are four other people in the piece I'm in, one of whom is an Equity actress.

From what I can see, being in Equity means you become undone if someone moves a chair, being unable to compensate. You can't decide how to cross a room unless someone tells you exactly how to do it, and you have to question every single line for its meaning and motivation.

I, the amateur, seem to be burdened with the ability to simply read the script and understand what's going on. I was reminded of a community theater at which I performed in the Boston area, and one particular show, where the actors were so intent on "getting into character" that they insisted on speed running lines for THE ENTIRE PLAY before the show. Yeah, because THAT lends to fresh delivery. My friend Victor and I had our own method of warming up: sitting in the green room scoffing cookies and coffee until the Stage manager called "Places."

At one point this afternoon, I was watching the rest of the cast debate as a group ad bedlam how they should enter, and where they should stand. I finally said, brightly, "Just use your experience and instincts to get you around the stage."

They looked at me like I was speaking Urdu.

Of course, I was dying to do each of the parts cast with women, and when I wasn't dying to do that, I was dying to direct the scene. But that's not what I'm there for.

I have my lines, I hit my cues, and they can hear me call from the basement stairwell, which is the only place I can be. I will be the best unseen 11-year-old the Chicago theater scene has experienced.


SP said...

Have you maybe considered to join a theater group of some sort? Maybe one that's geared specifically towards an older audience?

JC said...

What a great idea!

SP said...

And you know what would be a great name for it?