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Thursday, November 12, 2009

~Do I overthink things? I don't know, let me think about that…

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do I overthink things?
I don't know, let me think about that…

so okay, it might be possible that in certain cases I think about things a tiny bit more than I maybe should.

I just came back from the second rehearsal. And boy, what a disaster it was. It turns out, I've got entirely the wrong approach for Barnaby. The hunched shoulders? That was a mistake. The awkwardly limited movements? That was a mistake. The general lack of enthusiasm much of the time? I'm not sure, but I think that's a mistake too.

I'm not entirely sure I understand why they're mistakes, and that bothers me. The hunched shoulders were supposed to be like a little turtle hiding in its shell, I thought it would be cute. But it's not cute, I'm sure of that now. It just doesn't work. The limited movements were supposed to indicate shyness, but I think they're just making him bland. The last thing Barnaby needs to be is bland. It just doesn't work. The lack of enthusiasm is supposed to make it more noticeable when he does get enthusiastic, to give the sense that this isn't something he experiences every day. But instead I think I'm finding it hard to figure out what the right moments to bring the enthusiasm in are, so he constantly occupies some strange space in between obsessiveness and disinterest. It just isn't working.

At home and then on the bus to Jerusalem and then waiting around because I'd gotten there early, I went over Act 2 (the subject of tonight's rehearsal). I specifically looked for the rhythms of the lines, the pitches of the lines, that sort of thing. I wanted to figure out how random lines could seem like more than a string of words. I also wanted to learn the lines as quickly as possible, so that I could pay attention to the other actors and to my own performance rather than to the script. So I was really eager to get started. And then for the first 45 minutes, we just went over all the revisions. Tanya's changing lots of little lines. That meant I couldn't ignore my script; I needed to always be aware of the current version! It also meant that all the little bits of performance I'd worked out were suddenly more confusing than helpful.

But I don't know if that even mattered. In the bottom line, I wasn't playing Barnaby right. A little quirk here or there in a performance, that's fine. The voice is a quirk like that, that I don't at all regret. But I had so many quirks there was no room left for acting. I was so conscious of how I was moving around, and how I was interacting with the stage, and how I could get the next little beat that I'd planned in, that I barely noticed what anyone else was doing. Or where I did see what they were doing, I couldn't see how I could work with it.

But beyond that, I think I'm misunderstanding who Barnaby is on a fundamental level. I'm playing him as scared, and I'm starting to wonder if he should be closer to the opposite extreme. Does he really want to get out of trouble or does he want to be in trouble? I can't say I know, and that's a problem. Sometimes as I was reacting to Cornelius a certain way, in the back of my mind I was wondering whether I had it all wrong. I'm going to need to think more about Barnaby's motivations, about how much is under the surface and how much is clear. I think it's not quite right to just play a character here - I ought to be playing a character playing a character. Tanya says Barnaby wants to act cool, wants to be as fearless as Cornelius. So I need to think about which parts of that are an act, and which parts are revealing hidden truths. Or maybe all acts are revealing truths. This is the sort of thing that I'm not qualified to play Barnaby until I think about.

..or not. David, who's playing Cornelius, said to me that I don't need to try so hard. He said that Barnaby is really a lot like me, so if I just act like myself it'll be right. And that goes with what Tanya said to me after the rehearsal. For one thing she said that I need to speak up more (and it's embarrassing that I'm not doing that), but she also said (after I asked for her input) that she thinks I'm a "natural". And I didn't really know what to make of it as I was hearing, but now I'm thinking that maybe she said that because she wants me to get away from things that aren't natural, and back to something that's less of an act.

I think I think so much about details that I miss the basics. I think if I weren't thinking so much on stage about what it was I was supposed to be thinking about, I might have been confident enough to project my voice more. I think thinking so much about how Barnaby thinks got me thinking that the only way I could play Barnaby was by thinking it through to a point beyond my capabilities as an actor.

Okay, I think too much. ..I think.



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