Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Playing "Edward"

I have been rehearsing for Sunday's reading of Drs. Jane & Alexander, in the part of myself. The actors joked about my being appropriate for the part. But I have been asking myself the same question...

The odd thing about playing myself, in this play, is that I feel oddly confined. During previous performances (when I first came up with the idea in the 24-7 Fest for the ten minute version, in the NEUROfest, at Ensemble Studio Theater, or in private readings with friends) I have always had someone else play me. And I think what I have enjoyed most, those times, is having someone play a line in a completely different way than I would--show a different emotion, etc.

The least like me, in some ways, was my friend Peter Bean (who plays my brother in Sunday's version). In some ways, for that reason, I almost liked his interpretation best. He wasn't afraid to be angry, or to decide intention. He even challenged whether "Edward" would say one particular line.

He would, I assured him. In fact, he did.

And watching Jorge Cardova (left, along with the amazing Alyssa Simon, also in Sunday's reading), I really enjoyed little moments of annoyance he showed towards a cousin (not in this version), which in reality I never felt at all, but which enhanced the scene. Or Max Zener, when reading it for me in a private roundtable situation, was able to show similar annoyance with my Mom in ways I didn't actually feel at the time, but worked well in that moment.

But if I, as an actor playing the character Edward, showed that annoyance, it suddenly would have had too much authority. It would have been Edward, the playwright, or Edward, the person, commenting on his own personal annoyance, rather than an actor's interpretation.

So I am almost handcuffed by reality.

Because how am I to act onstage? Not as I truly acted in life. Stage needs to be heightened. I need to create the character of me, not just me. But since this character isn't the sort that deliberately and clearly departs from reality, I just need to find a way, really, to be me, only more so. And without the ability to truly shade the emotions at times without creating a secondary commentary on my own work...

And this is not just me playing me. This is me playing me and having lines that are based on direct quotations--from me. I am performing interviews I had in the same words I had those interviews. And wishing I had been a little more clever in what i had said. And then, in this reading, it's me directing me (which I never do) to say that which I had said in way that is interesting and works well for the intention of the playwright--me.

It's really one of the harder roles I've had to play.


Adam said...

Hey there...

Just wanted to let you know I've been enjoying your blog, though I too should be doing something involving children's books right this very minute.

Your piece on Thomas Disch was particularly nice.

Theater of Ideas said...

Thanks Adam. I realized i didn't have you on my blogroll! (do now...) I love checking in your newest illustrations.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. It's all rather complicated, isn't it? Circles of self within self within makes me a little dizzy!