Saturday, September 18, 2010


As a director, designer or an actor I want to know my home. My space.  How and why is it laid out? Time of day? Forecast? Temperature? What do I eat and drink? What’s in that can on the shelf? Do I have enough change in my pocket for the bus ride home? What’s that smell when I open the door? These and many, many other questions helps the actor build their character. For the director it helps to build the layers needed to tell the story of those characters.

For the actors, this is your home. Your couch, chair, floor, wall, door….your externals. A little more personal, what internal props do you have or need? How does my costume affect my character? For the director these are the tools you have to help the actor develop and explore. Even in design you are directing and putting things in place for the actor. For the character. For the story.

“The Jungle Fun Room” at Studio Players was “A Room” where five actors gathered to take us on an adventure to no where. Aspiring actors working birthday parties at the New York City Zoo has promising possibilities. We got a glimpse of a few of those moments but the characters were not fully flushed out past the page unto the stage. Where, what, when?

Comedy for the stage is not easy. Characters need layers and probably a road map.  Relying on the obvious only takes you to a certain point.  This is a good script but it still needs some tweaking to help the audience relate to these characters and for us to want to take this ride. Each character has their own singular quirks that need to be larger than life. They are actors and for the most part this group was the most tamed group of actors I have ever met. The egos, the competition, the need for recognition the wacky way they dress and present themselves again are the layers they need more of for us as an audience to care about them and their adventure.

My approach is more of an organic discovery for the actors and the designers. The trick is to meld all those thoughts and emotions with the physical world onto the stage to a complete process that tells the story.  Where, what, when and how.

Technical note to self:  The revolving wall for Shelly’s short monologues was not needed.  The time effort put into this effect could have been simplified with her center stage with lighting and a spotlight and the sound effects to create the same effect. The extra time put into these scene changes was unnecessary. And what about letting the audience be the children?  Singing Happy Birthday and responding to our Captain Mammal tour guide?  Get us involved early from the start.  Moving one of her monologues to the beginning would be a better setup and maybe would have pulled us into this party earlier.

New scripts and works are exciting and challenging.  So too with this production.  I always root for the underdog.  Keep working and exploring those layers. The big, the small, the quite and the intimate, the loud and the all out there, "HEY, I AM AN ACTOR!"  But I coordinate birthday parties at a zoo.

Goodbye Summer.  Hello Fall.

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