Just got back from the dinner break for Tech.
For those of you who care - I had a BBQ Chicken Wrap and it was very tasty.
The afternoon was spent working with lights and cues - working with actual beer bottles with liquid, working with actually making toast onstage and burning waffles. It doesn't sound like much - but all those little things add up to a big ole helping of awkwardness onstage.
When I was in college and working a summer theater job a girl I was working with that summer stopped mid-scene and simply said, "acting's hard." It was something we quoted for the rest of the summer, and years to follow until we graduated college. I find myself saying it every once in a while jokingly, but now out of context and away from those who heard it first and are in on the origin of the joke - it has taken on a different meaning. Mainly, a much more serious one.
Acting IS hard. It is a series of choices. And a lot of them. And to make something that is theatrical seem like it is an everyday scene from the lives of three people is an incredibly difficult thing to do.
Tami Workentin has the hardest job, I believe. As the Mother in this 1946 setting, she has to deal with serving Mr. Tasse and I breakfast - not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. And none of them the same way. It is a delicate dance of bringing 2 cups, then 2 spoons, then juice, fill coffee, drop bread in toaster, and so on and so forth. Jim Tasse and I only need to eat, drink and talk. I commend Tami for being able to do all of those things and make it seem effortless and just another part of the daily life of these people.
I think a lot of time people don't realize just how much work goes into the 'small things' onstage, or the 'business' that the actor is doing. Often times in talkbacks we will get the question, "how did you memorize all of those lines?" But in a play like this - or any American Realism play - the business is just as much of the magic and craft.
To give you an idea how much thought goes into this stuff. A waffle iron is used for one breakfast. This waffle iron is placed in a cabinet - and it could have been placed in the closest one for convenience, but what story does that tell? Instead, taking into account that waffles are the son's 'favorite' and he has been away at war for two and a half years, the waffle iron was placed in a cabinet high above in the kitchen. So high that Tami has to get a step stool to reach it. The story that we tell with that simple shift in location is huge.
It shows first off that waffles are not an everyday thing. It is an event. One that does not happen often. It also tells the story that since the son has not been there for two and a half years, it has moved to a place for items of disuse. The mother put it away until her son's return, and this is a morning that she has been thinking about for quite a while. So by placing the iron in that location - that simple choice speaks volumes. Does it read onstage? Yes. Will you notice it? Probably not. But for the keen observer and the good storyteller, all of it lies in the details like that.