Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pillowman Journal

from Kane Anderson -playing Father in Actors Theatre's The Pillowman

Working with Actors Theatre is such a thrill. First off, I'm in The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh! This amazing Irish playwright created several great plays that are fascinating in their complex and daring content Oh, and they are perhaps the most disturbingly hilarious pieces I have read in some time. Forget what you think you know-The Pillowman will surprise you. But beyond the script, I am enjoying working with a top professional company like Actors Theatre. Every artist I have met is amazing. Each night at rehearsal, director Matthew Wiener says something profound. (He'll probably laugh that off but it's true nonetheless.) I am not necessarily in many scenes but I enjoy sitting in on rehearsals when I can and my notebook overfloweth with ideas and insights into this process. And the actors in this production are fantastic. If I may geek-out for a moment, the specificity of their work is amazing and the passion they bring to the stage inspires me. I love the interplay that is emerging between Tupolski, Ariel and Katurian. These characters may live hard and rough but actors Jon, Cale and Christian make it seem so easy. That's a skill I look at with awe and in working with these guys, I hope to develop it myself. Ultimately, everyone in Team Pillowman is a superstar in my book. Sometimes I step back and look at where I am at so I can remind myself how lucky I am to be working with Actors Theatre. Keep the thrills coming, everyone!

Costume fitting! For those who don't know, this is an exciting time for me. Often costumes are the first part of the design that an actor gets to play with and I dig on seeing design elements come together. Some actors can get nervous-my neurotic friend Monique owns up to an irrational fear of wearing green onstage-but I can't wait to dive in and see what is store with costumes. Now I can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. And getting my feet into a pair of shoes that I'll wear onstage informs my character development. Big, clunky work boots conjure one image and help me move quite differently than soft, lovingly-worn loafers might. When Connie and Lois (our costume duo) handed me a pair of slippers today, something clicked in my body today that literally put one of my characters in motion. If this seems at all foreign, just think about how wearing a pair of new shoes can change your whole day. I have to give a shout-out to all the marvelous designers working on The Pillowman. Connie Furr-Solomon's costumes are just one example of the many great facets of this show. Jeff Thompson, our scenic designer, has some wild surprises coming. It's a true creative mind that can conceive and manufacture a reality that includes the effects and demands of this script. I can't wait to see how Paul Black and David Temby bring lighting and sound into the mix. The Pillowman is going to be beautiful all around.

At 2:04 am this morning, I became godfather to a new baby girl, Johanna. Already like her parents, she arrived late and on her own terms. Now I hope mommy, daddy and baby are resting up because the next eighteen years will be a show in themselves. Why does this matter to The Pillowman blog audience? Well, it sparked in my mind that I could do with a little bit on working with young actors. Hannah Trujillo plays our Girl in this production and she is doing very well. Could I at her young age have sat around with a bunch of older actors and feel comfortable enough to hold my own? Not likely. Hannah, however, comes at this work with a sense of play that can be exhilerating. But there is a lot of work, too. I share my big scene with the Girl and it's a doozy. Thanks to help from our Tupolski, actor Jon Gentry of Childsplay fame, we are making some great headway at getting everyone comfortable working together and focused on the demands of this piece. I can't give away too much but the precision that we are creating for this sequence is vital and we are taking it slow to make it all click. Today we did some fun mirror exercises to get us all keyed into focus and I have to confess that Hannah almost made me crack up a few times. But when it came time to work, we came together well and this scene, humorous and disturbing, is going to stick with us for some time. Seriously, this is a show that you will not soon forget...

So what does it mean to be an intern? Well, it's not all glitz and glamour like one may imagine but it is always an adventure. Kerry Wieder and I are graduate students from Arizona State University's Herberger College of Arts in the School of Theatre and Film's Theatre Performance Cohort, earning our Master of Fine Arts degrees. (Whew!) That long title means is that we are actors getting our MFAs and a component of that training is serving as interns with a professional company. That Actors Theatre works with our maddening schedules is truly an impressive gift. Kerry and I both work in the mornings. She teaches introductory acting courses and I work for the Graduate and Professional Student Association as well as the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. On top of those commitments, we take several daunting classes for our own development and rehearse our other projects during the spaces that exist between scenes. It's always a full day! This intern experience with The Pillowman has already been fantastic. I have interned with a few great companies during my early training as an actor and while each of these offered a different style of acting training and all certainly contributed to my artistic growth, they also involved a fair amount of stage mopping and the unofficial and unfortunate title of "wannabe actor". Things are quite different now. From the first read around the table here at Actors Theatre, I have felt like a welcome part of the professional ensemble. For that I am rather grateful. Nothing helps an actor grow like being challenged to work at a whole new level of performance. I have been working in Phoenix and Philadelphia for years and so going back to school can sometimes feel like being back to square one. But to step into an exciting and dynamic project like The Pillowman and feel like a valued part of the team heightens the training opportunities here. I may be an intern but this company has always included me as an artist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, very interesting post, greetings from Greece!