Category Archives: get out of the way of the play

Posts about Theatre in all its forms pertaining to SerahRose.

be the hero you wish would save you. from

I found a path covered in brambles. And then I lost it.

For 8 weeks.

I found a path.

It was covered in brambles.

I followed it anyways. My own art. My own challenge.

I made the time to charge through those brambles, get stuck with thorns, step through mud, and scramble up rocks.   Time that I did not have but I made anyways.

For 8 weeks.

I rehearsed for Much Ado About Nothing.  For those same 8 weeks I trained for my first Sprint Distance Triathlon.

For 8 weeks, I made myself eat enough, sleep enough, be enough.

I did not clean the house. I barely did dishes. I barely saw my child. I had just enough time to get through my day. When I felt sick, I swam anyways. When I felt tired or injured, I rehearsed anyways.

I thought it was too much.

I thought I was over-committed.

I cried and regretted and my child punished me with torrents of tears at every departure.  

A man I love told me it was okay to give up: it was okay to admit I was over-committed and to drop something.  To know I tried and couldn’t.  And it’s okay to try and then…know it’s enough.  I wept and felt relieved.  Then I woke up in the morning to realize that I could not ‘give up.’  No, no, that would be failure.  But I could be okay with doing my best.  Not the best of another.  Just my best.

So I kept on down that path and made friends with the thorns.  Their stings warning me to dance higher out of their way.  The slips on rocks reminding me to look closer and step lighter.  The caked mud simply something to put up with, or sling in delight at an unwary partner.

Then, on that one weekend, eight weeks later, I opened my show and completed my triathlon in one big rush.

And I loved it.

I looked back at those 8 weeks and I loved those too.  The tears were so minor; the fear so small.

I recovered from the race and closed my show with an impish grin, a rock hard stomach, and dreams of future triumphs.

It all ended.

And I got horribly sad.

So I stopped eating good food and started eating chocolate and drinking too much coffee.  I stopped sleeping right and found myself up at 1am for no reason other than that I couldn’t sleep.

There must be a middle.  Not a balance.  Not that damn word: balance.  But a middle.  A middle somewhere.  A path.

To find the time to create art, create physical triumph…to have time to put my child to bed and live in a tidy home.  To put it all together and not slump down in sadness when it is all over.  

When the goal has diminished to a past accomplishment: to set the new goal all over again.  The new goal that feels no greater than the last but will be even more important.

How do I do this?

Do not answer.  I do not want to hear it.  Because I know the answers.  I just do not know how to put them into practice.  My brain moves too quickly; my body moves too slowly; my heart moves in tides.

I am bowled over by paperwork; I am lost amongst the ants invading my kitchen counters; I am grown over by the weeds in my backyard; I am snowed in by bills I cannot pay.

But when I expand my back ribs in the deep inhalation of a voice about to be, when I tuck my chin and watch the line in the pool race by, when the burning of my quads forces me to engage, when I sink into the eyes of another artist, there is nothing but my body in motion.  There are no papers, no dishes, no late fees.  There is just me moving through space.

My mind is at ease.

My heart the hero you wish would save you. from

My spirit soars.

There is a path…somewhere there is a path that I will make and I will not so easily lose it this time.

Whose Play is this Anyways?

In a typical play (and usually also in not-so-typical plays) there’s a hero of some sort.  Not a super hero.  Not always someone we love but a hero nonetheless.  Some sort of main character whose story we are following.  It is from them the title stems: their life, an event in their life, their world, their name.

Sometimes, often times, you can bend the story to your whim.  Pick a new hero of sorts.  Sure, the play might be called Hamlet and we all know about Hamlet but what about that Claudius character?  Isn’t it really about him?  Maybe not, but if the director gets the right actor and plays her cards right, the audience may just leave the theatre thinking new things about the central actions of Claudius.

This past week, I went to two different plays.  Two. Very. Different. Plays.  Both named after the hero.  Sort of.  So I thought.  But then I go confused.

Jesus Christ Super Star.  The last time I saw this play (okay, Rock Opera), I was a kid.  I don’t know how old.  My mom took me because it’s one of her favorites.  They set it in a circus and told anyone in the audience they could come sit in the bleachers on stage that surrounded the circus ring.  Of course I made my mom go sit on stage with me.  So we watched half of it from the back.  I was in heaven.  I don’t remember a thing about the story but I do remember striped pants.

I took my daughter to see the final dress rehearsal of the local production of JCSS because her best friend is in it: one of a small group of young kids who come on for one number and then are never seen again.  It’s a cute moment.  They all come on with the grown-ups who are bearing Jesus on their shoulders, he blesses them and then they all go back stage and hang out until curtain call.  They sang their little hearts out and did just swell.

My daughter didn’t really know what was going on most of the time.  I tried to halfheartedly whisper-explain but I was also a little lost.  The cast did their best but the acoustics in the local 100-year-old-New-England-opera-house (You know what I’m talking about.  Every other New England Town has one.  They’re cold in the winter, hot in the summer, always need a paint job, and you’re lucky if the stage has any wing space) are terrible.  The singers, un-mic’d, were competing with amplified electronified music in a hall with lousy acoustics.  It was pretty hard to decipher their sung words except in the repeated choruses which gave you more than one shot to figure it out.  So I wracked my brains for the various bible stories in my head, we did our best to follow along, and my daughter had a great time.

Don’t worry, I’m getting to my point:

Judas got the final bow.  Not Jesus.

Caught me completely off-guard.  Yeah, he definitely had the cooler songs to sing and he sure was on-stage a lot, but the play is called Jesus Christ Super Star for a reason, right?  And as it was staged, Jesus was always in the spotlight, never in the periphery of the story.  I had to think about that one for a while…

A few days later I went to The Merchant of Venice.  This one I actually got to see more than once because I stood in for an actress during their final dress, watched one of their runs, and then stood in for a different actress during a matinee.  But it wasn’t until the second time that it dawned on me that there are two Merchants in the play.  Both Antonio and Shylock.  Maybe everyone who studies the play figures that out pretty quickly, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually studied the play seriously.

The only reason i figured it out is because the director put both men on stage together while not performing in a scripted scene forcing me see their relationship to the story: this is a story about people and how business transactions can go wrong.  This is a story of two merchants and the people around them.  These two merchants are in far fewer scenes than the lovers, but without the merchants, the lovers wouldn’t have a story to tell.  And neither merchant, either the one who loses all his goods, or the one who is gifted his back, gets love.  Neither one walks away with a full heart.  But all the lovers do.  How sad to be a Merchant.*

Made me think back a dozen or so years to The Importance of Being Earnest.  In one of our last rehearsals, the director brought up the title for the first time and related it to the Ernest in the play at which point I remarked that the title did not refer to the character “Ernest” but to the action of being “Earnest.”  Yes, it’s a play on words just as Wilde intended but the truth of it is, the title is not “The Importance of Being Ernest.”  It’s not about how important it is for this man to exist; it’s about honesty.  But, of course, the director had been directing this show all along thinking that it referred to the man, not the action.  I didn’t watch the play, being that I was in it.  But now I wonder if the audience knew it’s a play about honesty, or if they figured it’s just a play about a man whose name happens to rhyme with a word that used to mean honesty.

The author may write the words, but the director helps us understand the story and if she isn’t careful, we won’t be able to tell whose story she’s chosen to tell.

SerahRose hits Kat in the nose

Fighting Faces

It turns out I make a lot of funny faces when I fight.

Photo Credits vary and are from several talented photographers who visited both rehearsals and performances for Mutton & Mead.

SerahRose as "Aerosmith" in Frodo-A-Go-Go: The Rings Recycled

I will Impress You with my Naturally Expressive Acting

I love to perform.  I always have.  Even when it scares the pants off me.

Like the recital where I danced my way off stage because I was so nervous I thought I might hurl.  I didn’t.  I was fine.  So I did my next number without a hitch.

Like my first music recital when I got up in front of everyone (all 15 of them) and entirely forgot how to play the recorder.  Looking at the music was like, well, looking at a Jackson Pollock painting and wondering how that translated into the instrument in my hand.  I went back up later in the recital and did smashingly.

Like my first long-form improv show.  Again, I thought I would hurl.  This time backstage pre-show.  But there was only about 10 square feet of space and about 6 of us standing back there so hurling really wasn’t an option.  I was fine.  But I did spend a few scenes staring blankly at my partner and willing him to speak.

Like my first time teaching PictureBook Plays to a group of college students.  As if I knew what I was doing.  I did.  I just didn’t feel like it in the 30 seconds leading up to introducing myself.

Have you caught on to the trend?  The only time I get severely nervous is when it’s a first.  Once I’m in rinse-and-repeat mode, I’m cool as a cucumber.  Unless I really am sick, and that just sucks.

I tell you all this because it’s the reason I like performing far better than rehearsals.  You get the initial “I’m going to hurl” factor but then, after that, you’re fine.  At least, I thought that’s why.  Until recently, when I discovered that I may, in fact, like rehearsals better.

I am 33.  I mention this because it has been a turning point year for me, and the passage of time along with the resultant life experience feels significant enough that it is worth mentioning.

At 33, I finally understand:  It’s okay to suck.  In fact, it’s actually really fun to suck…in rehearsal.

In rehearsal, you are meant to be lousy.  It is your time to be terrible.  To forget your lines, to go the wrong way, to make the wrong choice, to take the wrong step.  And the more terrible you are, the better you are by the time you perform because you have spent hours giving yourself permission to make every possible mistake in the book.  And it’s really fun to make mistakes knowing that no harm can come of it, other than a few minutes having lapsed.

It’s really fun to make mistakes with no pressure.

For a long time, I thought I liked performing better because I was used to the pressure.  I’m a long-time over-achiever with a concentration problem.  I know what pressure is.  So the question becomes, how does one apply this lesson to performances?

Wait for it.

SerahRose as "Aerosmith" in Frodo-A-Go-Go: The Rings Recycled
Bonus Photo: This would be the hot pink dress and large misplaced ears I was wearing at the time of almost hurling.

The only one putting pressure on you to ‘impress people with your performance’ is you.  So stop trying to impress people with your naturally expressive acting and deep, soul-filling character choices.  Just go out there, do all the good stuff you learned while sucking in rehearsal, and tell a story.

The rest will come.

Just enjoy telling the story.

33 years old, and this is what I got.  Imagine what I’ll know at 66.