Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Be a part of the future

The auditions have slowed down these last couple weeks, and things aren't nearly so crazy as they were before.

Two weekends ago I auditioned for a new work. It was a really unique script that deals with many contemporary issues in society, but it approaches them in a very engaging way. I had a blast at the audition because it was the first I've been to yet where all my friends were auditioning too! I didn't have the chance to audition with any of my friends, and I didn't end up getting cast--but crazily enough many of my friends did.

I'm excited to see the production when it opens in April. I love that Seattle offers so many great opportunities  for new playwrights. There are many up and coming playwrights in this city that have their work produced on large and small stages area wide. It gives this theatre community a forward energy. Everyone in Seattle is working towards making American Theatre a staple of this country, and new artists are constantly coming to and emerging from this city with great ideas and a passion for producing inspiring premieres that make their way all over the country and the world.

Now, this doesn't mean the work pays well, or that the production value is always high--but I think it's important to remember the things that can be taken away from being a part of this new play movement. The opportunity to workshop a piece and be the first to perform it is a heady feeling. The Fringe Festival show I'm in right now is a new work, and I'm part of the premiere. In many of these circumstances, actors have the chance to work directly with the writers, which provides great insight to the characters and situations they find themselves in.  I've learned to deal with changing dialogue, and cutting scenes. There is also something wonderful about contemporary voices in theatre, and gaining the ability to approach these new, unheard voices.

Play writing is an ever evolving art form, and every play gives an actor a gift by allowing them to find something new in themselves and in their craft.  When performing great American works of theatre, there is often an idea in everyone's mind of how it should be done, or possibly how it's never been done before (which can either be the best or worst experiment). With a new work, there isn't a presupposed idea, no boundaries or guidelines, and ultimately a freedom that can help to foster an intelligent dialogue and a natural openness to new ideas.

New works were a selling point when I was deciding to move to this city. Since I've been here they've presented exciting opportunities, but nothing so great as a national tour (or even a small scale educational tour) or a lead in to a larger job. Many new works do not lead to future career opportunities in this city, but I think that if American actors think or continue to think of new works as purely a stepping stone in their career, then America will never truly gain a theatre to call its own. As long as playwrights continue to write, and someone somewhere continues to be generous enough to fund their work, and actors continue to take time out of their career catapulting shenanigans then eventually we will help to make the future of American theatre.

New works in Seattle are so accepted as part of the community. They are exciting and dominate a good portion of the work done in this small market. As long as new plays are being produced throughout the country, American theatre will continue to move forward. Continuing to perform the classics and the modern realism genre that were born out of war-time society will always be pertinent and effectual. But as a country with no National Theatre, it is up to the playwrights to find their own niche and funding that will help their work spread to the public. Being part of a new work is being part of the future.

Read a great article about Seattle playwrights here: http://seattletimes.com/html/thearts/2019076947_playwrights09.html

In other news, I also auditioned for another local company that does a lot of new works recently. I'm still waiting to hear back from them, and in the mean time I'm making sure I'm off book for the two productions I'm already a part of.

Rehearsals have gone by so quickly for the Fringe show. We actually open and run next week starting Wednesday. When that closes, I'll be starting Tech Week for my second show. In other words, I've been very busy rehearsing on two separate sides of the city, memorizing lines and blocking, and promoting the shows. I'm excited to be getting closer to opening, because the audience is what it's all about!

I've learned a lot about different directing styles in these processes. I've been lucky to have worked with two very collaborative directors that appreciate actor input and ideas. Both rehearsals have helped me find a voice I didn't know I had as an actor. I've been allowed to really dig into scenes with my casts because the directors have been so willing to discuss different methods.

I've also learned a lot about juggling shows. What I've taken away from the experience is that doing multiple shows at once can be great. I have stretched my creativity and learned new things. It can also be exhausting and frustrating to miss one rehearsal for another, or to have six hours of one rehearsal and then four hours of another with only an hour break in between. And as tiring as this can be, I still find it to be an incredibly fulfilling experience that I feel grateful to have. That's how I know I'm doing the right thing for me. I'm curious to know other actors' opinions on the subject.