Thursday, February 11, 2010

All the world's a stage. Or at least, a rehearsal basement...

So my unemployment status pretty much killed a lot of extracurriculars: no more stained-glass class, no more associate artist and its attendant fees. That's OK; I knew it was not forever, and I've kept in touch with people.

But I was feeling restless and in a rut, and the Chicago winter did nothing to help. I sorted through clothes, re-organized my files, tidied up, did laundry... but that didn't really satisfy the creative bug. I'd been thinking I'd wanted to get back into some performance, so I auditioned for a sketch show, and I got in. Great. It wouldn't cost me anything but time, and I'd have some regular camaraderie. And fun!

So there are 5 men, including the (writer/director) and two women (the other woman plays the "hot" chick, and I play -- well, the other chick). They are all really nice people. As usual, I'm the loud one, cracking jokes and being a general wiseass. There was one other guy who was similar, and our scenes together were really fun. One in particular dealt with a woman discovering that her husband had a problem with internet porn.

"I want this done playfully," said the director.

"This is so guy," I told him. 'Oh, honey, I never touch you, and when I do, I have to take Viagra, but when you find I've been watching porn all the time, I want you to find it kind of funny.' "You realize, of course, that this is purely a male fantasy."

Still, we did it his way, and it worked fine, mostly thanks to the actor. Very cute. Then my co-actor started to feel unwell. He has a problem with asthma, and chalked it up to that. Then a few days ago we came to rehearsal and the director told us that the actor had gone to the hospital for emergency triple-bypass surgery. We opened in 11 days. I reflected that I'd done this for fun. Stress-free fun. I also reflected on the dark humor of the Cosmos.

So we got another actor who will take 4 main scenes, and the others have been divvied up. I now also play an army sergeant and a teenager. I wondered whether Streep or Dench had to pretend to play Modern Warfare 2, and decided that if they did they probably researched the game and played it ten hours a day to prepare miming it perfectly. I also realized that I'm too lazy to be that good. I practice saying "dude" a lot.

All in all, the show is fun and pretty well written, I manage to keep my Inner Bitch deep inside where she can't feast on anyone's blood, and I get to dance to Led Zeppelin, so how bad can life be? I know the director is stressing over the sick actor, and I'm proud of the way the cast has pulled together to pick up the slack. If this new guy can pull through, the audience should not be able to tell that anything's amiss. I'm so glad I took improv.


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