New Hampshire Log: Day Six—All Good Things

Just to mention: all the photography from my New Hampshire section compliments of Jen Schriever. She's got a great eye, no? ("Yeah; some people think she has two." <--thy movie quote)

Everyone seems hungry to have more time to work on their acting. It’s an interesting aspect of this way of working that the actors have to rather prioritize in order to find enough time to create a sufficiently well-rehearsed performance. I’m not sure it’s entirely unhelpful. Having to fight for what you want—as most actors will agree—makes for good energy. It’s good to be a little hungry. Then again, some creation isn’t possible without a relaxed, un-self-conscious environment. For my part, I hope our New York rehearsals prioritize scene work a bit more. In the meantime, I’ll grab every moment I can with my scene partners to clock in rehearsal together.

Our last day here in New Hampshire began, for me, with a trip to Hanover with Mike The Great to pick up some breakfast at the Dirt Cowboy, some toiletries and office supplies from CVS and some Joe (in box form, an impromptu tradition this week) from Dunkin’ Donuts. On our way, we were practically silent, but the coffee revived us considerably. This is good, because it turned out to be a sweltering day, and every move a little more of an effort. We began rehearsal with where we left off, a little after the (former) act break. There isn’t much for me to do, as Jake’s further disappearance from the environment of the story is crucial. People are forgetting him, and so I only show up in one “charivari” and one of his sister’s memories/hallucinations.

It may be very funny for people who’ve heard me talking about this show for years now (indeed, some of them having had to accept it as a reason I couldn’t work for or with them) to see it and see so little of me…live, anyway. Maybe they’ll think all that time was spent photographing me, somehow. At any rate, my heart and soul is in this show, for better or worse. It’s, oddly enough, like a hypothetical story of my sister. The relationship between Jake and his twin sister in our story is crucial, and very much informed from my end by how I feel about my sister, Virginia. It’s an incomparable relationship, and it’s a great experience to get to demonstrate some of it on stage.

There is, built into the corner of a rafter of our rehearsal barn, a nest of baby swallows. We’ve charted their progress through the week, and it’s rather remarkable how quickly they develop. When we arrived this morning, one was lying dead on the floor, having fallen from the nest. I scooped it into a cup and laid it to rest in some of the shrubbery off the beaten path. Then, later in the day, one more dropped out directly in front of Joe Varca as he exited a scene. It died shortly thereafter. It’s a curious reminder of the facts of life in the midst of our story of an unimaginable circumstance.

By the end of our rehearsal period for the day, we had worked through our new script once. We spent another half an hour cleaning the barn and prepping it for an audience that night. The “stage” was set in a ¾ round, with four entrances but—owing to our lack of actual wings or backstage space—no areas to cross over from one side to the other without traversing the stage area. We have some uncertainties about our set-up at the Fringe (every show gets no more than 15 minutes set-up time for each performance, and the prior show will alternate, so we’ll never know exactly what we’re facing when we get in to begin) but this is the closest we could imagine until we get into the actual space. The guano was vacuumed up, and a variety of bizarre seating laid out in the form of beds, car seats and lawn chairs. Then it was a two-hour break for dinner.

It’s hard to say how the showing went. The barn somehow held onto the day’s humidity, despite our best efforts to air it out, and we were all anxious about what we had to show and what kind of response we could expect, not to mention our wondering exactly what we would each forget to do. You see, it wasn’t a question of if: We had revised so much so many times, and run some bits only once that day, so I think it’s safe to say each and every of us was prepared to bite it at least once. At the same time, we were so excited to have something cohesive to show at last (and excited to see the damn thing for ourselves) that we couldn’t care too much what went wrong this run.

So how about our show? Well, it has more of the catharsis I craved on last writing, but it’s owing in large part to a device that concludes the show, and I would prefer that it hinged on scene work. As you might imagine, the bulk of the show is difficult to judge without some time to pull together the acting, but I’m pleased with the momentum it seems to be beginning to acquire with the overlap of scenes and the emphasis on the military’s role in the story. Some of the staging is entirely too symmetrical for my tastes (I prefer asymmetry in general—creates more tension) but that’s already being broken up a bit, and may continue to as we progress. Overall, I feel good about what we’re headed to present, and look forward to seeing it blossom further.

It’s raining now as we drive our way back to Manhattan, and my mind drifts out over the landscape, floated on scraps of New Hampshire memories. (Hey, by the way: Joe Varca’s a freaking punk. I’m so glad I don’t look like him anymore.) I’m watching a movie tonight, just to take my mind off Art for a little while, and ease my heart away from lakeside sunsets.