HARD KNOCKS AND SLASHES

April 21, 2008.

“…the English will not yield to prayers. They understand nothing but hard knocks and slashes: I will not go to church until we have beaten them.” – Saint Joan

We have come through our first week of performances and I am very happy. It was a little discouraging to play for such small houses but that is always the way with L.A. theatre until word-of-mouth gets around and the reviews come out. And speaking of reviews…we had a major reviewer there last night and I’m going to feel sick to my stomach until I know the outcome. The cast made a pact that we wouldn’t read any reviews during the run but we won’t be able to help hearing if the press is positive or negative.

I felt worried at Intermission because the first act had been a bit bumpy and I am still trying to find my way in a couple of the scenes. I sat by myself in the tunnel between the lobby and the dressing room contemplating what to do. I realized rather quickly that it didn’t matter what the reviewer thought. It was not going to change the fact that, four nights a week, I get to play this marvelous role. I love it. I love every second of this person and this play and absolutely nothing can change that for me. It was an astonishing personal breakthrough to find that something I was doing had value all on its own and could not be improved upon or negated by another person’s opinion. After a lifetime of caring too much what other people think of me, it was truly a victory.

When I went out to do the second act, I felt free. Things came out of me that had never happened before and I was in the moment pretty much the entire time. It was an electric feeling. The stage manager came back to the dressing room as soon as the show was over with her mouth hanging open. Adam told me it was some of the best acting he’d ever seen. Nothing compares to the feeling of being fully expressed and the knowledge that you have “left it all on the stage.” No matter what happens with the review, I feel so excited to continue this journey and to see how the role unfolds and evolves over time.

And on the hard knocks side of things…my body is a mess! Despite the safe physical blocking, the knee pads to protect my falls, the sheath to protect my hands from the sword- my hands are still covered in cuts, my arms and legs are black and blue, and my finger-nail (though it was cut short) got bent back during a scene and was bleeding all over the place. The fight captain did an impromptu fight call with me and another actor in the dressing room the other night when he saw what my arms looked like. I get picked up and shoved around a lot and the actor who does most of it doesn’t know his own strength. I didn’t even know I was still getting bruised until I changed one day and was horrified to catch a glimpse of my arms. I can’t go out in short-sleeves right now for fear people will think I’m being abused! It does make me feel like a grubby French soldier though. Now I have a few days off to repair and rejuvenate but I can’t wait to start it all over again.

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