I’ve been a little MIA…
I haven’t blogged. I deactivated my Facebook account, I deleted Twitter and Instagram from my phone. I dug in the dirt and planted an herb garden and am re-reading a book that feeds me. My hubby and I found a new restaurant. I’ve created space and hid away for a few weeks.
To be fair, there has been a lot going on. We did go through tech, press week, opened a show and I’ve had lots of personal work demanding my time. I also thankfully had family in town for two weeks. I’ve tried to do dishes a time or two as well. But enough of my laundry list of excuses.
I’ve just felt very private and a low-humming, constant melancholy has been sitting with me for the past few weeks. Joy is mine regardless; there are innumerable things to be thankful for and rejoice over, but I think I’ve finally realized that I’ve been straight up METHOD about this Grusha stuff. She is staying with me and shaking her is proving to be easier said than done. More than that, I’m not sure I want to shake her.
Part of my Method madness includes my preshow routine: sitting next to my adopted child, Michael, played by a beautiful puppet that I’ve totally fallen in love with, and listening to my Chalk playlist. I don’t dare hold him as I can’t let myself get ahead of the story in my emotional prep but I will just touch his knee, his little leather shoe or sometimes hold his hand. It’s remarkable what power having that Michael Chekhovian ‘secret’ of touch can have as you venture onstage. Even though I can never get ahead of myself in this play, if there is not some sort of emotional rumblings of preparation that begin early, I feel I’m not doing my job to the best of my ability; I’ve entered the story without my proper framework. I also have pictures of my brother as a little boy on my dressing table. These little hints of attachment and belonging without having true motherhood ground me subconsciously. This is my brand of madness for Grusha prep.
In the converse, I find that if my emotional hooks are light that day, it doesn’t matter because the story still does all the work. The given circumstances are still there, it’s still a give and take with each actor and getting into that final courtroom scene with Christopher Lloyd and the gang is a Meisner game heaven.
Here’s the truth of it: in the past three weeks, I’ve found that being in THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE is like doing a gymnastics floor routine, then hopping over to the balance beam, then ending with the vault and praying I stick the landing. It’s an athletic and muscular demand. It requires engaging with the audience and feeling their energy, but always and forever focusing on the task at hand and never wavering until the last note is sung. It requires absolute trust in the other six actors playing 428 other characters (or is it 45?) and trusting that I can only play each moment as it comes. My job is reacting with honesty. I love my job.
Btw, I would tell you that all of Grusha’s physical action was Grotowski technique based, but then it may appear Grusha is grab-bag, mash-up technique madness: Diet Method, Michael Chekhov, Meisner, Grotowski. Hey…I say, use whatever is in your tool-belt and go with it. It all comes out in the wash. Acting is reacting no matter how you slice it.
And to boil it down to brass tacks, I’ve compiled...
A couple of things I’ve learned in THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE:
1. To not run my Russian lines on the train by myself out loud. People will think you have a couple screws loose. (Not that I mind, but you may scare some children.)
2. To expect to sweat during Act 1 and get my pretty floral dress rancid stinky. Be very glad wardrobe keeps vodka and water on hand to spray down costumes repeatedly.
3. Pre show: One actor will always be trying to tune an instrument while another is trying to vocalize in another key. It’s inevitable, but surprisingly makes for interesting atonal music.
4. Suitcases: They are like 3 year olds. They have a mind of their own. They might just close on their own, they might fall over and have a tantrum. They might snap shut or fall open for no reason and embarrass you in front of a crowd.
5. Potatoes as props are a very cool idea. I like them. Beware they might go rogue however and an “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” moment could ensue.
6. More theatres should have a coffee shop like Everyman Espresso attached to their front of house. And they should all sell the potentially addictive ginger molasses cookies. Win / win, y’all. CSC does it right.
7. Operating on guts and listening to the still, small voice about taking a risk is right. Do not fear. The rewards from this process are innumerable, but I never would have known if I didn’t say yes. So thankful.
8. I’ve re-learned that Liquiteria on 11th and 2nd is my jam. A pre-show PB & J, green juice and a Hot Shot with lemon, cayenne and ginger can’t be topped.
9. The actors in this show are wonderful. I’ve grown deeply attached to them. And I miss the amazing creative team now that I don’t see them everyday and we have a thumbs-up stellar crew and management team.
10. Getting to act with Christopher Lloyd makes me want to say ‘Great Scott.’ His Azdak is like, ‘whoa.’