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?
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.