21 Jun

Play Synopsis: At a large, tastefully appointed townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York, Charley Brock, has just shot himself before his 10th Anniversary Party. The four couples invited are about to experience a severe attack of Farce. Charley lies bleeding in his bedroom, and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer, Ken, and wife, Chris, must get “the story” straight before the other guests arrive. As the confusions and miscommunications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity.

It's been a long way for Senior Secondary Actors Ensemble to rehearse and get ready for this play.  As Chris's line goes, this semester "had its ups and downs".

For a long time I was upset about playing a nasty character; Mr. Richardson, our director, said "you need to bring that 'cowy' side out more" at nearly every rehearsal, which made me quite helpless, because I had been nowhere near this kind of personality.  Still, deep inside my heart, I understood the best thing I could do was practice and get the character right.  As the performance date coming closer and closer, I started to let go of my negativity and study my character more.  These are the detailed aspects that I worked on:

  • Facial expressionsrolling my eyes, tilting my lips, and looking at people with contempt...
  • Body languagethe use of hand gestures, the way of walking and of drinking...
  • Voice: rising my pitch sometimes, grinding my teeth when feeling annoyed, and getting excited when gossiping...
  • Before getting on stageinspired by Uta Hagen's book Respect for Acting, I paid attention to the process of getting into the character before going on stage.  With my eyebrows trimmed and makeup done, I looked into the mirror and saw the middle-upper class lady who takes good care of her appearance.  The dress, the handbag and many other things all enabled me to feel more of Claire's sense of superiority and to understand that she desires others' attention.

Finally, it did not turn out too badly - some feedbacks included that I was being a totally different person on stage, bringing Claire to life.  Still, I found several things to improve on:

  • Since it was easy to see who the audience are, because the entire amphitheater was lit, I was distracted by the audience for a few times, trying to find out their response to the jokes or for other reasons.  This lowers the level of concentration and should not happen again.
  • I was not very accurate on keeping the blocking.  There are a few times when I needed to purposefully find a proper place to stay because I messed up my blocking beforehand.  For a play with so many people on stage at the same time, it is important to constantly keep the visual balance.
  • Do not crack into laughter on stage... (This didn't happen but I found myself at the edge of it.)

Mainly influenced by the naturalistic way of acting, I found this farce especially difficult, because making jokes on stage has the nature to make me feel "in and out" of the character, taking away the consistency of my focus and my emotion.  Moreover, since the purpose of a farce is to make the audience laugh about ridiculous things, the playwright did not design any growth of the characters.  Thus, I did not have that essential thread of mental development throughout the play.

Playing a static character pushes me to continuously reinforce the features Claire has, and design a clear route of development of revealing the character by myself.  I dislike the script mainly for this reason and found myself not doing well in creating layers or variations.

In conclusion, this is my first time acting in a comedy, and I found it difficult to cope with the way of acting and the pace.  In addition to areas like movement and voice, I really need to improve on remembering the blocking and building a full character with layers and variations.  This experience has definitely shaped me into a better-rounded actor by pushing me out of my comfort zone and prompted me to think more about acting and theatre styles.  After this challenging and meaningful experience, I would like to go back to some dramatic scripts in the close future.

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