Fifteen shows and it's taken me till the sixteenth to realize what that dubious feeling is I get every time a script's in my hand.
(Pardon for those who aren't partial to the technicalities of theatre and acting, but this rant has been rolling through my brain for days. It needed to be voiced. Er... written. Er... blogged.)
First, I'm miffed that my character always is non-existent --in spite of my best efforts-- until all of my scenes have been blocked. (Non-theatre nerds: blocking is the movement--dictated by a director--of a given actor on stage.) We finished blocking Charley's Aunt on Tuesday, and for the remainder of the day I could not get it out of my head. Granted, this may be assumed by the untrained (aka myself as I was a year ago) that I was inwardly well pleased on having a stage kiss this show.
But that wasn't it at all.
Every time blocking is finalized, there is part of me that does not leave the show; when there's nothing for me to focus on (and sometimes even if there is) I find my thoughts and heart back with the script, seeing myself on stage moving with the words. But after Tuesday, I realized for the first time that this... feeling wasn't just me striving to have a good performance. It seems as if the moment I'm given a script, and the moment the blocking is down I am no longer just Erica. It's as if the act of learning a person's steps and reading a person's words has inserted the person inside me, and for the duration of rehearsals and performances their soul lives in harmony with mine, drawing my attention back to them at given points in the day.
It was interesting to stand there at work, mulling over my character's love interest, but for the first time doing so in her eyes, not mine. In the past (and you early blog subscribers should recall), I took the deep amorous affections felt by my character to be my own emotions. I would build on them to a point that once the final curtain fell I still harbored those feelings. Honestly, we humans can talk ourselves into anything.
And I'm worried this isn't making sense.
I've come to realize that my "good" performances are not me at all. The few times I've ever felt ridiculously accomplished with a show have been the few times I wait in the wings with no recollection of my lines; only the blind hope I'll get out there and remember it all.
But in those instances I don't remember. I just do--I just take the stage and for that show I am not Erica being a person. For that show I'm letting that character's soul take the reigns--not even comprehending my doing so. For that show I am merely standing mouthpiece.
And it's all so strange to think about. My epiphanies about Lottie Child and Cinderella's Stepmother were so perfect, there was no way they were not given with some form of help. And yes, I do firmly acknowledge the fact that God has helped me, and that those thoughtless, wonderful performances are rightly credited in His name, but at the same time--and I mean this with no damnable disrespect--I feel almost as if God is only responsible for my inner openness to the spirit of any given character. I feel He gave me that gift, and the characters come as they come, almost with no affirmation on His will. By entrusting me with this gift He entrusted me with all that comes with it: namely any character I care to acknowledge.
And thus far Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez will be the easiest, most difficult character yet, because she is so firm and opinionated in her mannerisms--and her presence is so strong--, but I cannot get her to enlighten me on how to act accordingly under her name. There are moments she lets me see, and I only hope I can learn to play her.
And play her well. Because this constant, consuming, sweet feeling of love will not leave my being; and it entirely belongs to her.