Thursday, June 29, 2006

audience alchemy

I have watched over 70% of the performances of Hunter Gatherers. I may need to pull that back for my own sanity as each viewing is an enormously intense experience, as though someone is giving my intestines a firm tug. I still laugh out loud, which is embarrassing, since I've now watched that joke hundreds of times. I think I'm laughing because the actor has just done something different or found something new in the line. Sometimes I catch myself laughing in an effort to get the audience to laugh at a joke that I think is hilarious but hasn't seemed to rouse anyone else to chuckle.

"They've opened a lot of doors for me, these hands." is one example. I think that's the funniest line ever, but it's in a new place in the script, and clearly the audience is listening or focused on something else, so they are unable to process a pun.

One of the most interesting parts of coming so many times is to hear the response of so many different audiences. Every audience is unique in its collective response. We have had audiences that laugh at every line, audiences that don't laugh as often but louder when they do, audiences that gasp at shocking or mean lines. I'm sure the actors are putting out different energy each night as well which add to the mix, but there is really a compelling, individual identity that forms within an audience that is bizarre and mysterious, and the performers respond and adjust to it. That is one of the most fun parts of coming again and again.

I was talking with Tracy too about how fragile comic timing is. A slam dunk line on any other night can get completed diffused by the slightest stutter. Once, John K. had the tiniest hiccup while saying "Caldecott Tunnel" and nobody laughed at the following punchline, which normally gets a huge response. Weird! Interesting! Wow! What a mystery this theater and comedy is! (It's just an example, John, sorry!) When a joke that normally gets a laugh doesn't, often the following joke becomes huge, when it normally only receives a chuckle.

So, I'm a nerd about this.

Monday, June 19, 2006

opening night and beyond

I think I can now allow my cuticles to resume their normal length.

Actually that's a lie. I have always chewed my fingernails ever since it replaced thumb sucking at an age I will not disclose. The point is, the first week of non-preview full price performances have just ended and I am feeling very proud of the work. And audiences seem to be enjoying themselves too.

Opening night went very well. I was so distracted at dinner before that my mom asked me if I was on drugs. My new shirt achieved it's mission of me looking sharp. And the show went so fabulously.

We've had One review from the Contra Costa Times so far with a bunch more to come I think. There were a number of press there on Thursday. I will only post links to the positive ones. I'll pull quotes from the mean ones.

Thank you to Mark, Mom, Dad, Thessaly, Liisa, David, Kim, Kim w Posse, Lisa, Rachel, Loren, Joanne, Tomas, Enrique, Marisela, Alex, Christopher, Tegan, Lisa, Tracy, Nicole, Howard, Cara, Nathalie, and the hundreds of other people who I don't know but still love who came to the show this week! I know I'm forgetting many names of people here. Sorry about that. But they probably don't read this anyway.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Butt Work on Stage

Hunter Gatherers actor John Kovacevich, who portrays Tom in the show has blogged tips for other actors who have to expose their bum on stage.

Anyhoo, check out John's myspace blog for the his "Top 10 Lessons Learned About Showing One's Butt on Stage."

Number 2, by the way, is "When you're showing your butt, the operative words are "no surprises". Helpful helpful lessons for the young actors out there. Or older actors moving into to backside nature work.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Previews of deliciousness

We have had 3 preview performances so far of Hunter Gatherers and I am breathing a little easier, sleeping more sounder, and am just generally psyched to have audiences finally experiencing the awesome work that everyone has been doing.

Thursday night, our first show, I was something of a tense mess, so much that Mark had to keep hitting me and checking if I was OK during the performance. A glass of wine was helpful. I was enjoying myself immensely despite the anxious tension. I am always more nervous as a writer at an opening than I ever was as an actor. Control issues. Sometimes I get self conscious that I laugh very loudly at my own play, but fuck it. I was wearing an amazing new shirt that I procured thanks to a newfound shirtmaker discovery at a recent wedding. Rufus shirts. I'm in love. I can hardly wait to bring out my opening night one. The audience will be about half press on opening. That won't make nervous at all. Welcome, welcome!

Audiences have been very receptive so far, and the actors are really growing and learning from this newfound member of the experience. We're still meeting 2 hours before curtain to work through certain moments and technical challenges. The set is still being finessed and cues tightened. I'm cutting 3 lines tonight! Wooo. I cut another yesterday. This is an incredibly lovely luxury to have previews. Each audience has been different in makeup and in the way they respond. One night was a steady stream of chuckles. Last night was less chuckling but more large group release-laughs at key moments, like they were bottling it in. And, the funniest moment in the play, hands down, is one particular slap (which I won't give away). Fascinating shit. I think people are having fun watching, and I think everyone working on it is starting to have fun too.

We've been getting some nice pre-opening coverage which i hope will help fill the seats. Today an SF Chronicle Pink Section article came out. And there's been some fun previews in the SF Weekly, Bay Area Reporter and SFist. Thank you press people!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My set so far

Killing My Lobster has posted a time lapse of the set construction. Awesome

Friday, June 02, 2006

Oh and I'm sinful too

Apparently my play, Colorado, covers 6 of 7 deadly sins. And my middle name is Sinn. So I suppose that was convincing enough for Impact Theatre to produce the darn thing this fall. Check it!

I'll stop self marketing soon. I SWEAR!

I keep meaning to discuss the experience of listening to a grants panel discussing my application. I learned that, according to one panelist, my work sounds very "Dolores Park Mission Hipster." I don't think this was a complement but it was, seeing as I live on Valencia Street, two blocks from said park, fairly accurate. Except for the "hip" part. I don't feel very hip. I actually wrote an entire blog post about the event, but deleted it after an hour. I'll find a better moment to show my balls.

Self promotional personality test.