Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dinner Break....

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.

Heading to Tech

I am writing this about an hour before we head into Technical Rehearsals for 'The Subject Was Roses.'

I admit I have been neglecting my duties as of the last few weeks of rehearsals, so over the course of Tech, I will try to fill you in on the many happenings of the last few weeks, a bit about the process, the props, and other enjoyable tidbits that you might not otherwise have the chance to hear about or see in the final production.

To begin I should introduce myself to you. My name is Nicholas Harazin and I am an actor. In ROSES, I play the role of Timmy, the son who comes back from WWII to his parents house in the Bronx. I last blogged for Sweetest Swing in Baseball - so you may have read some of my ramblings there as well - for the sake of all involved, I will try to be as eloquent and terse as possible.

I will be bringing my computer with me to Tech and reporting from there when I have the chance. For those of you who do not know what Tech is, it means that it is a Technical Rehearsal, in which all the elements of design come together in the space. The Set is done, and tweaks will be made here and there as we work on it. The lighting is going to be set, we will work on setting levels, as well as working with some 'practical' cues onstage - where one of us actors has to turn on a light switch or a lamp onstage, and the lighting designer has to light the room as though that were the only source of light in it. The costumes will be worn today for the first time and we will see how everything fits and works in the space. And the sound designer will be adding his elements throughout the play.

The actors have had weeks to rehearse this play, and now, essentially, it is the designers chance to rehearse their play with us and see how we all come together to make what is sure to be an incredible production.

Report back soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

If the shoe fits!

You might remember me as MCT's Audience Development Coordinator, but this time I am wearing another hat - designing costumes for THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES! It is a big job to design and produce period costumes (this play is set in 1946). The smallest details are so important - especially in the Studio Theatre!

Today my biggest dilemma is that I can't decide which shoes to buy for my leading lady, so I have to buy three pairs. Thank goodness for places like Zappos that have super speedy shipping and free returns! Now I can bring three pairs to my fitting and determine the perfect shoes with the help of the most important person - the one wearing them! After she decides, I will return the other pairs. Tami Workentin (Nettie) will be wearing these shoes for a few hours every performance for the duration of the run. As a designer, when I am thinking about which shoes to provide, not only is it important that the look is correct, but that they last the duration of the run and provide comfort for the actor. Many actors have been on their feet all day and the last thing they want to do is come to their performance after a long day and put on a pair of uncomfortable shoes! So, even though it would be nice to save some money and go to a cheap shoe store, I have to splurge a little for the actor's sake! Instead of buying multiple cheap pairs of shoes, I will buy one good pair. This also benefits the actress when she has quick changes and doesn't have to worry about changing her shoes!

So there you have it - a little insight on shoes from the costume designer for today. Now, I am off to my favorite vintage boutique - Vintageous in Bay View, to continue my search for Tami's (Nettie's) wardrobe!

Munro American Maria Soft Style Angel II Trotters Jeanne