Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Dream Role

I've never gotten to know a character as well as I did Mrs. Lottie Child in Gershwin's Crazy For You. I think that's why it hurt so much knowing I'd never return to her lines, I'd never return to her costumes, I'd never return to her voice and mannerisms. She was the first character I truly got to know, and the first (I believe) I 100 percent acted in place of.

I've always developed a character, but I've always thought about what would get a laugh, what would make the most sense. I never once thought "What would _____ do?" I never made my character a person. I only ever made a voice, made a laugh, and made a means by which they delivered their lines and stood while onstage.

Erin was showing me the various walks of all of her characters from the Bountiful High stage, and I remember thinking "Lottie doesn't have a walk."

Or so I thought. I believe because I put so much effort into finding Lottie, her walk just came about, and I shocked myself many a time as I walked backstage alone in one of her costumes, walking the walk I was sure I hadn't developed.

But it was her. It was Lottie.

I have a very fond place in my heart for her, though she, to some degree, is the villain of the show. She is definitely one character I have loved the most. And I believe all my thanks should go to Jerome Rockwood and his book.

Rockwood taught me what I already knew, but he put it in words that changed the message. He taught me to justify my actions, to have a purpose on stage. He taught me that you couldn't get on stage a "play an emotion", you had to have some inner reason for that emotion. In real life you don't just become angry. There is a reason, if you look deep enough, for your anger. You need that on stage.

He taught me not the play the cliches. He taught me to find original material, not to mimic what I'd seen done a thousand times.

And if I stole the show being Lottie, as people have told me I have stolen the show in the past, I stole it this time with sincere originality. I stole it with a firmly developed character, not my ability to think how certain things would work with the crowd.

Opening night was a thrill when I dug myself so deep into Lottie's character that when I tried to remember my first line prior to going onstage (a simple "Yes, Bobby?") I couldn't for the life of me remember any of my lines. But I knew myself well enough to know that they'd come, and it was interesting to realize I'd forgotten them because Lottie wouldn't have planned a whole conversation in her head. It would have just come out, perhaps more bluntly than required.

Several shows later I came onstage with too much Erica. And Lottie did something Erica thought was funny. And Erica laughed. On stage. I hated myself for it, but that just drove the spike deeper for me to have a fabulous closing night.

I'm not going to say closing night was the single greatest performance I ever gave, no. That title belongs to opening night, a performance I wholeheartedly agree would not have been even an ounce as good if it twere not for the interceding of a certain Higher Power. And I believe He did it then so I could see, for the first time, how to properly play Lottie, because in every rehearsal prior I had had her general mass, but I had to skeleton to contain it.

So I would like to bid goodbye to Lottie. I would like to say farewell to the part that gave me all I need to act on stage. I would like to deeply thank the heartless woman who brought my talent meaning, and I'd like to thank my God for giving me the chance.