Monday, November 21, 2011

ON THE JOURNEY - 26 Miles; So Long Sabbatical

After a weeklong “sabbatical” from rehearsal, I am eager to get back to our "play" world. I missed it. As actors, directors & designers, I realize how close the cast becomes while "working" on a play. For the actor, it's about how individually close we become to our character's journey, story & words. There becomes a need to see them, to be with them rehearsal after rehearsal... To keep working towards our goal, as theatre artists, to enliven the words, characters & relationships on the page into a visual story that needs to be heard & shared. Our short break made that longing unbearable! We return to our work on Sunday & I just think about how exciting it will be to see everyone in the cast, to hear what new things we each have discovered or polished while we were away! What new elements for the play our Director has to share with us! After all, that is what theatre is about! Coming together to share our experiences & stories as human beings in a tangible way. We are on the precipice of achieving that goal for our audience & that is the most exciting part. Our lines are learned, our blocking studied & now our remaining rehearsals are about putting the last puzzle pieces together...

I can't wait!!

-DeAnna Gonzales
Actress, 26 Miles

Friday, November 18, 2011

On The Journey - 26 Miles; BREAK TIME

This blog is written at the beginning of an entire week off from rehearsals. While not completely unheard of (particularly as we approach the busy holiday season), I am not used to having such a large block of time of in the middle of the rehearsal process. It would be far too easy to relax, enjoy the extra free time in the evenings, and lose focus on the show. And that would be tragic.

Fortunately, the break is well-timed. We have already done the initial character work, the rough blocking, and a stumble through- the bones of the show are in place. We are not yet in the crunch time of tech week, where the acting has to be locked in to accommodate lighting, sound, and other production elements.

It is nice to let the show percolate in my head for awhile. Sometimes in rehearsal, when i am on stage and in the moment, it is hard to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Rather than trying to remember which line was supposed to cue a cross or deciding what inflection should be placed on a phrase, I can look at the grander themes of the show and its imagery- how individual scenes and/or characters support the overall goals of the production.

It is a great cast and I am enjoying working with everyone. Each actor brings a unique perspective, great talent, great motivation, and a willingness to provide input to develop the show. I find it hard to lock in a charcter or a scene early in the rehearsal process, because so much depends on the other actors around you. At this point, however, I am comfortable with each of them and so I am confident in the direction that the show is going and in how I need to go in order to best support the show.

And the good news is that there is still time to further develop each character and each scene. There is little worse than realizing late in the rehearsal process that something on stage doesn't work or could be done better, only to conclude that nothing can be done about it because there isn't enough rehearsal time left to address it and fix it.

Rather than look at this week as a vacation from the show, then, I am looking forward to being able organize and refocus all of the thoughts from the work of the last couple of weeks. As I am confident that the rest of the cast is doing the same, I am excited to see how the show has progressed and matured even in the absence of a formal rehearsal. I think that it will be amazing!

-David Johnson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

26 Miles - On the Journey; A Family of Friends

As I ready myself for the eleventh rehearsal for 26 Miles, I have to take the time to smile at how different my character and I are. But also the similarities we share. But now I'm starting to see the similarities in how I connect with my fellow cast mates, and how my character Olivia is connects to the casts characters.

In rehearsals, I have take into account that I am the baby of the cast. In my character Olivia’s life, she is babied by her father, Aaron. The gentleman playing my father is David Johnson, who I’ve done shows with since I was quite young. So I almost do see David Johnson as a father figure. Playing his daughter isn’t so tough, and we had a parent-child connection faster than I thought we would. Oddly enough, in other shows we’ve performed in, we never played family members. So, now I’m glad to share the stage with such a talented actor like David, while playing his daughter.

I had only worked with DeAnna Gonzales once, and it was earlier in the year. I had never performed or even auditioned with her before. I stage managed The V-Monologues at Artes De La Rosa, and she performed the monologue “I was in the room." So the only connection I had with her, was mostly when I was telling her she had 5 minutes before she went on stage. Short, and small connections. I had only heard of how wonderful it was to work with her, on stage. In a way, this represents her character, Beatriz’s relationship with my character, Olivia. Beatriz is Olivia’s mom, but lost custody of her when Olivia was very young. They only had short, and small meetings after the custody battle. Suddenly, DeAnna auditions the same night I do for 26 Miles. We connect quickly, read well together, and chat the night away. Suddenly, Beatriz suddenly shows up at Olivia’s house at 4am, and takes her on a spontaneous trip across the nation. The two characters connect, and quickly want to know what they’ve missed out on. Now that I’m in this show with DeAnna, I find myself close to her, as if she is one of my long lost family members.

The newest connection in my life, and Olivia’s life, is Carlos Iruegas. Carlos plays the part of Manuel Torres, the boyfriend of Beatriz. Olivia has only seen him a few times, and has known him the shortest amount of time. I’ve only known Carlos for a couple of months, after seeing him play the role of the lawyer in A View From The Bridge. (another ADLR show, produced back in September). In 26 Miles, Olivia and Manuel share an unexpected friendship, and both have something to relate to; Beatriz. Both Carlos and I are going to the same college (Tarrant County College) and sometimes find ourselves running lines in between classes. I feel at times that Carlos and I have developed a brother and sister relationship.

So here we are. A family. I see rehearsals almost as family dinners sometimes. Having only three other cast mates with me in the show, we can get a little intimate. We all share personal stories, a lot of laughs, and a lot of support for each other. I feel like I’m with my second family. I have love for each family member, including our director Adam Adolfo. Even if we do sometimes drive each other crazy.

-Georgia Marshelle Phillips
The Baby Gringa

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

26 Miles - On the Journey; The Power of an Intimate Family

I've done dramas, comedies and musicals; I've been in casts ranging in size from small, medium, and very large. But with only four actors, this is the smallest cast that I have ever been part of! While there is something majestic and awesome about seeing a cast of dozens executing choreography in perfect synchronization, there is something intimate yet powerful about a small, tight knit cast. And this is what excites me about the upcoming production of 26 Miles by Quiara Alegria Hudes having its Fort Worth Premiere at Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts.

It has been noted by others before me that 26 Miles is a story about journeys, families, identity, and belonging. Ironically, the same can be said of theater productions themselves. The actors each have a role to play - it must be authentic on an individual level but still fit within the overall fabric of the play; And through the journey of the rehearsal process, the actors become a family, even if only within the limited context of the show.

The nice thing about such an intimate cast is that time can be spent developing relationships between actors first, which then flows naturally into relationships between the actors' characters. This is a luxury not afforded to larger casts, where more time must go to crowd management - the shear effort required to keep so many elements in motion.

Even after only a few rehearsals, I think that this cast is becoming increasingly comfortable with each other. I am excited to see this projected onto the stage in the coming weeks. The audience will experience the onstage journey (and I think they will be rewarded for coming with us on that journey), but the cast and crew get the additional satisfaction of the joy of journey that is the production itself.

And this is shaping up to be a good one!