Friday, January 21, 2011

Opera, Death, News, and Tears... Among Other Things

Wow... I didn't think I would have anything to write about this weekend, but I think entry's going to be quite long because yesterday was eventful.

But first, today- I went to the Tower of London with Adrienne and two other friends, Deanna and Megan. Adrienne and I had already been there when we came on preview, but it was nice to go again. If you go one day, definitely take the guided tour. The yaomen guides (or at least the two we've had) are really funny and project well and are generally great tour guides. So we did that, then wandered around to all of the things you could see. We did see some new stuff, as last time we had a time limit; we were in no rush today and so stayed for nearly four hours. Some pics:

^ The white building is the last standing house from the Tudor era in the area.

^The Traitors Gate, through which many who were executed, including Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, entered.
^A picture I snapped against the rules.
^Anne Boleyn's (among other's) execution spot.

And now for yesterday:

Part One: La Vie Boheme

Or actually, just La Boheme. Yes, I finally got to the opera last night. It took me longer than I thought it would to find the theatre, as it was tucked down a small side street that was only labelled on the side of the street that I wasn't facing as I walked toward it. Finally, though, I found it and went in about fifteen minutes early.
The show itself was really good. It was the first opera I've ever been to, so even though I love me a good period piece, I'm glad it was a shortened, modern version. Though I didn't know the story upon which it was based, it translated pretty well to modern times, save for a few things, like the death scene where Rudolpho is clutching Mimi's beanie hat and crying and Mimi is singing about the nice, warm mittens they got her (a bonnet and a muff in the original... which isn't much better. I can't take people singing about items of clothing seriously. Love, yes. Accessories, no.) The modernised script could be genuinely funny in some places, though, too- there were lines sung like, "What's up?", "You know this is crap," and "Piss off!"
The coolest part about the show was that they physically moved us along with the show. When the characters went to the nearby pub, the entire audience was taken down two floors to the theatre's bar, where we all stood and the actors pushed past us to get around. I happened to be in the exact spot they had to cross, and at one point, I was chest to chest with one of the actors as he sang past me. It was pretty cool. I also heard the person behind me saying that the cast is one big ensemble and the leads change nightly. How cool!

Part Two: Some Exciting News

The student-run theatre group on campus that visited the associate students during our theatre induction told us that night that their organisation would be holding auditions for their annual New Writer's Festival in a few weeks, and at the very tail-end of this announcement, they said there were also oportunities for technicians and writers, if we were interested. Of course, I was interested in the latter and took down the information. They said I'd have to act fast- it was Wednesday and they were picking the pieces that Friday. So as soon as I got back from my 21st festivities, I selected two stand-alone scenes and sent them in.
The next morning, I got an e-mail in my inbox telling me that they needed more information. What were the pieces about? How many actors were needed? How long were they? Did I have technical preferences? If I didn't have enough time to do this and needed to pull my pieces, they said, they'd understand, but they hoped I could get the info in. I sat down right then, wrote it all out, and sent it in. Thank goodness for e-mail, is all I can say!
Then last night, I got back from the opera and went into my e-mail. There was a message from the Queen Mary Theatre Company. It began like a normal rejection letter: 'so many high-quaity submissions,' 'such a hard decision,' etc. etc. *sigh* Oh, well, I tried. I scrolled down to see the list of the chosen plays...

Both of mine were on the list.


I am so. Excited. I think I actually squealed, then I ran over to Adrienne's room and jumped around a little, then went back to my room and jumped around some more.

I AM SO EXCITED! While a few scenes I've written have been worked on/produced (in the film company I work with and in a few small acting schools), it's never been to the scale where people have auditoned for my pieces and a director was assigned. And it's a festival! They asked me if I wanted to direct and I said no; I don't enjoy directing and I also have a tendancy to get a little precious with my material, so I think being in charge of my own scene would be dangerous.

Of course, I'll look like a completely morbid person to someone who sees just these two scenes- they're both about funerals, but instead of being sad, they're both making fun of them. (According to friend and acting psychologist Stuart, it is because I am making light of something I am uncomfortable with :p) When I sent them in, I wrote, "Also, I promise I don't only write about funerals. These were just the two best pieces I had on hand."

I'm happy these were the two I sent in. While they both have the same basic subject and are comedic, they're actually very different. One is about sort-of love, the other is about three generations of family. One is about two people at a funeral, the other is about an elderly woman facing the fact of her death. One is completely from my imagination, the other is based on a real-life dinner out. And most of all, one took me months to write, and the other I wrote in forty-five minutes at a playwrighting workshop and edited only very lightly before submitting it.

I can't wait to see the final products, and I'll try to film them so I can share them with you, too!

Part Three: My Own Brand of Homesickness

Last night, I was Skype chatting with my lovely friend Kara, telling her the news above and wishing her many a broken limb at this semester's auditions back at my home school. As it happens, I was a little late- the auditions had already happened and callbacks were that night, and Kara, talented actor that she is, was called back for the lead part in a wonderful play. I freaked out with happiness for her and tried to ignore the incredible pang that hit me when she told me this news... because I love that play and I've been pining for that part for awhile. In fact, I want it so badly that it was the one thing that made me consider not coming here. However, I know that there was way too big a chance that I wouldn't get the part, especially at my home school, so I didn't let that change my decision.
So I tried to ignore the feeling that I had been hit by a truck at the mention of callbacks for a part that is on top of my MUST PLAY BEFORE I DIE list. But then Kara wrote, "I thought of you because I know you love her." I started crying.
I want that part SO badly. I want it, I want it, I want it. I could fill this entire blog with that sentence and it wouldn't cover how much I want to play that part. And to know that if I had stayed, I might have it within my grasp (maybe... there's a chance I might not even have been called back.) So to know that I willingly gave up that chance... well, if I didn't walk around London thinking how happy I am here every other minute, there's a good chance it would kill me.
That being said, though, I gave up a lot of opportunities to come here, but I think I'll find that there are just as many here. After all, one of the opportunities I gave up was entering a scene I wrote into a competition.... one of the same scenes that's being done in the festival here. So there's that point of view.
But I still really want that part. And I cried more than a little over it last night. So maybe homesickness is hitting me... I suspected it might happen in a weird way, and this could very well be it.

Quote of the Day:

"This is just a question for the world at large: why are all the abusive teachers reserved for actors, singers, and chefs? Why not biologists? I can just hear it- 'Oh, that is NOT spirogyra. That's not even flat endorsal vintrali, I mean COME ON!'" -Stephen Tobolowsky


Anonymous said...

Your day of leisurely touring the Tower of London sounds very nice. It must have been nice to visit things you did not really have a chance to investigate thoroughly on preview. You probably even heard something about the tower on the tour that you did not hear last time.


I know you pondered the spring season,but I think you were facing reality about casting and although you have grown in your acting..... we know how casting may not always be the smartest.
In your heart, as you have stated, you know going to London NOW was the best thing for you.
The next time this play is offered, it will be your time...

In reading your quote, you must have heard about Allie's pre-calc teacher....sounds like how he would react to a student asking for help.

so much excitement---> across the pond.!


Mrs. Flury said...

Rachel, How very awesome to have not one, but TWO of your plays selected for the festival! Wow! You will be not only a published playwright, but a performed playwright, too! (Is there a special word for that, a playwright whose works have been performed?) And, in London, no less! Your portfolio is going to be popping!

It sounds to me as if the part for which you yearn must be a fairly well-known one. How lovely that your friend could win the lead without having to feel bad about your not getting it--or vice-versa, since you are busy as a London playwright just now. I agree with you and your mother that you were smart to grab the UK opportunity while you could. If this part is that well-known, surely the opportunity will arise again for you to play it. Of course, you'll have to see if it can fit into your busy schedule as a famous name in the theater district, but this will be a good problem to have. ;D

Do you really think your yearning for that part qualifies as homesickness? Part-sickness or play-sickness instead, maybe?

When I was in HS, a popular poster read, "Happiness is not having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have." I think you do want what you have in London. How cool that you had two positive choices from which to decide!

I'm so glad you enjoyed the opera. How would you feel about performing a play part in the midst of the audience?

Rachel said...

Mrs.Flury,- I am VERY excited :) They usually call them "produced playwrights," which can be different than published (since I won't be published, even though people are performing my words in a semi-professional setting), but not always; one can be both, of course.

The part I wanted is in a play written by a playwright who is steadily growing in popularity, so while I haven't seen a lot of theatres doing the show, I think that may change. And since the character is in her 30s/40s, I hope I'll get the chance to play her in my lifetime. As for my friend, I think we both realise that, no matter the casting of anything, it's almost never within the control of the actor. You get your three minutes and then it's out of your hands, usually.
As for play/part-sickness... that's pretty much a constant state of being for me.

I've actually done theatre like that- in my younger years (:p) I did traveling murder mystery dinner theatre. It was all completely improvised- we'd get a list of facts about our character for that show about twenty-four hours ahead of time (if we were lucky), and we'd all pile into a big van, drive a few hours to a location, then sit and perform amongst the "audience" diners and take things as they came. Very fun and very different from most things I do!

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