Sometimes it’s just the little moments away from the stage that one appreciates the most.
Last night had been a long rehearsal for me. I do a hard workout 5-6 days a week and last night was the day for my absolute hardest workout. Combine that with a long day at the office and just enough time to shower and eat a salad after the workout and you’ve got yourself one weary consulting thespian.
I’m a very active person. On a physical level, I’m on the go a lot and I like to do things and have adventures (hence, my love of travel). My mental activity probably outstrips my physical activity because I am almost constantly thinking (which has its highs and its lows). Like Sherlock Holmes, doing nothing wears me out more than doing something.
As my friends will gladly testify, I am usually not much of a night owl. They usually know when I’m working on a show because I will sometimes doze off because I work sunup to sundown. It also happens when I’m doing a passive activity like watching TV. As long as my brain is engaged, I can be capable of staying up into the wee hours of the morning. If I’m doing nothing, my body’s response is, “Ah, to heck with this. Lights out!!!”
After the heavy workout and then just sitting and observing the cast work, I was starting to feel a little sleepy towards the end of rehearsal. Then the actors decided they wanted to run the act from the top which meant I had to leap into action as one of our actors was not called last night. It was like a switch had turned on in my mind and I instantly became alert. But I was so stiff from my workout that I simply read the lines from where I sat.
When we finished for the night, I was ready to head for home and read a little before turning in, but our Bogle (Bill Grennan) decided he wanted a glass of wine and asked me if I’d join him. I decided, “Why not?”
And I was glad I made the choice because it’s the little moments spent away from the stage with your acting family that really builds the camaraderie, friendships, and, dare I say, a stronger show.
I’ve been friends with Bill since that wonderful experience with Biloxi Blues, but I think this is the first time we’ve ever really been able to talk and I was amazed to discover just how much we had in common.
Bill and I actually have similar ideas when it comes to acting and interpretation. We actually share nearly identical views on the characterization of the Bogle, although Bill admits that he hasn’t quite found him yet. I think he’s a lot closer than he realizes as he’s made some really great discoveries. But I do understand the challenge in discovering the character. There is nothing quite as sweet as the moment when the character reveals himself to me and that’s when the real excitement of acting begins.
We discussed our experiences in The 39 Steps for him and Leaving Iowa for me and I was able to share what a transformative and relieving experience that show was for me. I was surprised to discover that Bill related a bit better than I thought. Like myself, he had experienced a long drought at the beginning of his career.
Bill began auditioning at the age of 14 and did not get cast until he finally gained a bit part towards the end of his high school career. From there he finally graduated to better roles in college and then to the success he’s enjoyed on the community theatre circuit in recent years. Both of us also credit Susan Clement-Toberer with giving us that first really big breakthrough role.
He also managed to make me feel better about my audition for Every Christmas Story Ever Told a few years back. As my regular readers know, I was the only person to audition for that show on the first night of auditions and I had long feared that I had literally lost to nobody. Bill told me he had auditioned with a few other people on the second night and I felt immensely better because I had at least lost to flesh and blood opponents.
Bill did think losing to air was hilarious and encouraged me to write a comedic monologue about that idea because it would be “comedic gold” as he stated. I just may accept that challenge.
But it’s really the simple moments like those that add to the magic of the theatre experience. Rediscovering that last night has made this whole experience as the show’s consulting thespian worthwhile indeed.