Jun. 16th, 2007 11:18 am
collisionwork: (tired)
So, second performance of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet last night - not nearly so rocky, felt really good, very appreciative and fairly sizable house. Yay!

Came home to find the first review out. Not good. Oh, well.

I won't link to it until after the run, as I did with Martin Denton's on That's What We're Here For. I haven't actually read it in its entirety, but skimmed it fast down the screen to get the gist, catch the adjectives, and put it away. I don't want to see that right now. I can't deal with that. Maybe ever.

Berit read it in full, and gave some comment on it, as did a friend, who emailed to say that he thought the reviewer "sounds like he is mother f'n hellbent on pursuing a personal vendetta against you!" He's not, man, I know him slightly socially, I'm sure I disappointed him, I've already written my "thank you" letter to him.

(I've probably mentioned it before, but it's a good piece of advice, so I'll pass it on again - the one piece of personal advice Richard Foreman gave me when doing the ForemanFests was to ALWAYS write a personal thank-you note to EVERY reviewer who comes to see the show NO MATTER WHAT kind of review they write. Richard is very VERY sharp and canny about these things, and I've felt this has indeed helped me in keeping a good relationship with the press - they seem to remember my name, at least. Though I wonder what Richard's notes to John Simon - who really DID have a "personal vendetta" against Foreman for years - must have read like after a couple of decades . . .)

I don't feel so bad after Berit's rundown of the review, as his problems with the show were primarily conceptual, rather than regarding the rocky and unsteady performance, and, well, the concept stuff is the concept stuff. It's my show, and even at the rocky opening night, it still said what I wanted it to say the way I wanted to say it, so, yeah, if you aren't behind it, that's it for the show -- though the unsteadiness of the beginning of that performance in particular may have not been confident enough to "sell" the style of the show right away; we may have needed to hook 'em and drag 'em into this world better, right away.

So it goes. I've had bad reviews before, I'll have them again. Same with raves. The show is good, and the audience was fully with us last night, so I'm good. Two more performances, hopefully more. I love working with this company, and on this show, I want to keep it up as is possible.

But we have one more review coming, which, I fear, will be in the same boat as the one we just got. {sigh}

Anyone have any suggestions for getting stains out of brick? At our tech, some of our stage blood sprayed onto the brick wall of the theatre that gives it its name (normally, it would spray onto a piece of paper hanging there, but we didn't have that paper for tech). Afterwards, we tried cleaning it up with what we had around the theatre, but liquid hand soap and paper towels don't do well on rough brick. We came back a day later with stronger cleansers and brushes, and got most of it off after about 5 or 6 scrubbings, but there is still a very slight stain left there (this is not helped by the fact that the cleaning is making the brick around the stain much brighter and less dull).

This blood comes off anything, and out of clothing, like it was never there, so I'm surprised at how persistent it is on the brick (porous ceramics are rather different, indeed). I suppose, because we waited a day, thinking it would just sit there on the outside like so many other things we've had to clean up at The Brick recently (taffy, gum, clay), and of how it comes out of clothes after several days sitting there, that the time it spent there let the dyes sink in. A "foam cleaner" has been suggested. Any ideas?

Anyway, I should go and deal with other things today. It's my 39th birthday. I'm going to a general birthday backyard BBQ party that Daniel McKleinfeld and Maggie Cino run every year for the members of this group of friends with June birthdays - Maggie and Daniel in particular, but also Berit, and me, and a few others I think.

Last time I played a major classical role was 15 years ago this month, when I turned 24 while I was playing Marlowe's Faustus. Last night I saw someone from the group of friends that put that production on (though he wasn't involved) at The Brick to see another show, who I hadn't seen in about 12-14 years. He's trying to rustle up some of those old friends to come and see my show later this month, so, that would be a nice way of getting back in touch with them.

More soon. (oh, and sorry about no cats or random ten two weeks in a row -- too busy . . . oh, hell with it, I'll do a random ten as another entry right now . . .)

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
I needed some production photos quick for publicity purposes, so I asked some of the actors who live near The Brick to come by last night and get into costume and get some photos after the shows were over. Gyda Arber and Bryan Enk were able to make it - and thanks for the loan of the camera and for uploading the shots to Gyda.

So here's some of what the show pretty much looks like. Here I am as Hamlet with Enk as Polonius (". . . conception is a blessing, but not as your daughter may conceive . . ."):

Hamlet & Polonius #2

With Gyda as the Norwegian Captain, talking of futile war:

Hamlet & The Captain #2

And the two of us again, looking out on the Norwegian troops being sent to their deaths in Poland:

Hamlet & The Captain #3

And finally, the shot you have to get, Hamlet with Yorick:

Hamlet & Yorick

Now, a rush. Shower and shave, off to Staples for new programs, off to Big Apple Lights to exchange a loaner piece of equipment with our repaired one (the "brain" for our practical dimmers), off to The Brick to put the piece in and then practice for a few hours. I'm feeling good, though Berit and I were at The Brick fixing tech things until 5.00 am again last night (this morning). Now to keep this up through the show.

collisionwork: (twin peaks)
I am still feeling a little odd about our opening on Tuesday.

I think I did divorce myself pretty much entirely from the producer/director bag while I was doing the show, and was there only as the actor playing Hamlet - in fact, I even left the theatre for a few minutes to catch my breath and not think about the show, but just my part in it, at the beginning of (our) Act II, specifically trying to be an actor and not a director -- this is also the point in the show where the actor playing Hamlet gets a (comparatively) sizable rest, which I think of as the "Burbage Break." I can just imagine Richard Burbage complaining to Shakespeare, "Christ, Bill, I've been going full blast for an hour now, can't you send me off to England or something for an act, have Ophelia go mad and kill herself, and give Armin some funny business in the graveyard before her funeral to kill some time? I really need a pint and some food after all that hugger-mugger before I come back on for the killing." Bill's an immensely practical playwright when you're dealing with him from the inside.

I think I did okay as an actor. I wasn't bad at all, but I can be better, easily. It was the first time I ever felt really good about the "rogue and peasant slave" speech, which suddenly took flight for me. I felt I had the manic, crazed side of the whole character down really well, but I lost a bit of the stiff preppy prig I've been working so hard on. But not bad. In my nervousness, I went up on a few words and/or lines that I never have before, but I didn't stumble, plowed on, and got through it.

But as a result of my concentration, I don't have much of a sense as to how the whole show actually went, or how the audience took it. We started late (very late) and ran long, it was damned hot in the theatre, there were some especially shaky moments at the start of the show, and it seemed to take them a while to warm up, but there was a point where I suddenly felt, "Okay, I've got 'em." And, eventually, the laughs started coming in the places where they were supposed to (it's hard to judge if people are being affected by the dark, nasty bits, or if they're just tuned out, so laughter - there are LOTS of funny bits in this tragedy - can at least signify engagement). Thankfully, no laughs at all in places where they're not supposed to be.

But I can't tell really how it went, and I'm not sure how the other actors felt (some were happy and effusive to me, but I'm paranoid, and tend to think they were just trying to cheer me up).

And there are other reasons not for public consumption leading to a more-than-average amount of stress, worry, confusion and depression. Of course, that's part of my normal state post-opening (it gets worse post-run), as all that time and work finally comes out . . . and . . . now what?

In any case, I was brought out of that unpleasantness and into a state of bliss for a time this morning by this video - another one of those "things I saw on TV once years ago and have remembered ever since" items for which I bless YouTube. In this case, a piece of Sesame Street that I remember from the original airing sometime in late '72 or early '73.

I think I still have the 7" single of this I got as a result of this appearance and played over and over on my little plastic turntable. It's still one of my favorite songs (and one of Berit's, too). Here's Mr. Stevie Wonder with "Superstition":

One Down

Jun. 13th, 2007 02:46 am
collisionwork: (elephant man)
So, we opened Ian W. Hill's Hamlet tonight. I've now played Hamlet.

Afterwards, one of the actors asked me how I felt, and I said, "complex," and I don't want to go into it any more right now. I'm coming down off the adrenaline high that's been keeping me going for days. I need to crawl into bed and pass out for as long as my body says it needs to.

But I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and emails. It was appreciated, to feel that support.

Thank you.
collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
I am tired. I am weary. I could sleep for a thousand years.

But tonight I'm playing Hamlet.

Tech last night - I got home at 5.30 am, and don't really feel like dealing with computer, internet, etc. right now, but I should say something as I get ready today.

I've been thinking about this show for 18 years, working on it for 15, one way or another. Now it all comes down to bare practicalities. Will this work? Will this work? Will we have the paper for the set that UPS hasn't delivered yet or have to run frantically and find a substitute of some kind? Will we have time to make the stage blood? Will the transitions actually work as smoothly as they did last night (which wasn't always the smoothest but was amazing considering how little work we've been able to do with them)? I have to finish the program. I have to go over my part again. And again. I have to remember to thank people who should be thanked. I have to keep trying to remember things I've forgot and do it without torturing myself into anxiety. I have to edit down some sound cues and lengthen others. I have to make up press packs, just in case. I have to do the laundry for the cast to get the stage blood out (tasty stuff Berit's made - it's the peanut-butter/vodka based mix - I think there's chocolate in there, too). Berit has to pluck my eyebrows and maybe - will we have time? - do my roots.

It's a tech-light show for me - only 69 light cues in 91 pages; usually I average 2.5 light cues per page - my sound cues (lettered, as Berit does) only go from A to SS (I have, in a 50-minute play, gone from A to QQQQ), but some of the tech that there is is a bitch. I was surprised at how easy tech went, actually, though surprised at how long - though, no, I didn't keep the actors there until 5.00 am, Berit and I (and Aaron Baker, who stayed to help, thanks Aaron) had to spend a few hours painting the set and cleaning the theatre after we finished. The blood did not completely come off the wall - I hope it isn't a problem for the one day at The Brick it's there; we need an abrasive brush and more powerful cleanser. Comes out of clothes just fine, but sticking to brick? Not so good.

Aaron reminded me late last night, "Eighteen years, right?" So, I should feel like I finally achieved some long-standing dream. But all I can deal with is what has to be done for tonight.

Though I looked at the stage over and over last night and kept thinking, "This looks GOOD." So maybe it is. Different for me, I guess - Berit says it's "cleaner" than usual. Peter (Bean) Brown said the same at the act break, that he's used to my "junky" sets (noting that he likes them, as do I) and that this looks like "money." Whatever. It is what it is.

I think it's good. I think it works. There are bits, tiny, brief bits, that don't, where it's my fault and something isn't working (one bit - mesmerizing in rehearsal, was lying there like a lox with the tech elements added; maybe it'll be different tonight). But altogether, it works. It does what I want it to do - sometimes not at all in the way I've been figuring on for years, but it a better way.

It works. That's what should concern me.

I hope some of you see it, I hope you enjoy it. If you read this, you know where to find it.

I have a massive headache. I'm going to go soak for a while and get ready. I need to leave the production world for a while and get my actor bag on. I'm playing Hamlet in eight-and-a-half hours, dammit.

collisionwork: (mark rothko)
Lots of emails back and forth between Berit and I as she finalized the postcard.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. I won't post another version of the front, but the final version - which may be the same as the last version I linked to, I'm not sure, is HERE.

Here's the final for the back:

Ian W. Hill's Hamlet - postcard back

4x6". Glossy on both sides. Let's see how fast we get them. Unfortunately, it'll probably be Monday . . .

collisionwork: (goya)
Now in Maine.

I'm getting caught up on tons of emails I missed getting the last two days, and Berit is sending me revisions of the card front and back to check out.

She's fixed the card front a bit from its appearance in my last post, making the text less "computery," and it can be seen HERE.

She's been working on the card back now, and it's a pain with all the text and stuff that needs to go on there, but she's working it out. I'll post that once we have a finished version, as I should have done with the front (I was just excited to see it and share it).

Here's another version of the "card front" image, framed differently to be used for promotional purposes, etc.:

Hamlet Promo Image

One Week

Jun. 5th, 2007 08:53 am
collisionwork: (sign)
In a week and a little under 12 hours, I'll be onstage playing Hamlet.

I'm not off-book yet, but I'm close, and I'll be there. I'm spending about six hours on it today. That'll get me almost there, but probably not quite.

We have four more runthrus scheduled, tonight, Friday, Saturday, and Monday, the last a tech-dress with the full cast - the only time we'll have the full cast before we open. Tonight we're only down one actor, so that's good. We might lose one of the runthrus to deal with fight choreography, costumes, and props (either Friday or Saturday) with, respectively, Qui Nguyen, Karen Flood, and Berit.

I am anxious, but in an odd way. I am anxious that I am not more stressed about the show. I feel like I must be forgetting something and there's something else I have to do, but I think we have things under control. We have to build the platforms by next Monday, finish the postcard and send it out tonight, get the rest of the props (there aren't nearly as many as usual in one of my shows), finish the sound design, buy the fencing equipment, and . . . oh, there must be other things. Berit has a list . . .

But we seem to be together. I just have to get my lines down. Tomorrow I drive up to Maine to get my teeth finally fixed, back late the next day or early the following.

Sent out another round of press stuff and the promo email to my list.

Berit made up scale diagrams of the set positions for the cast in Photoshop - we won't get to work the transitions until tech, so I'd like them to have as clear as possible an image of what things are supposed to look like. Moving everything around at scale also made it obvious that certain plans we had as to where things were going to go will not work, and we had to fix them. Here's some of the settings in this form - a, b, and c are the three platforms (2' high, one of them 6x3.5', the other two 7x2'), d is a writing desk, and e is a step that can be placed by the platforms. The other shapes are chairs and a mic stand. Other lines are the curtains at The Brick, and several hanging 4' pieces of rust-colored paper.

Here is Act I, Scene 3 (our Act/Scene designations), the "dock" where Laertes says goodbye to Polonius and Ophelia:

HAMLET Act I Scene 3

Act I, Scene 7 - the office/hall in Elsinore where many scenes happen:

HAMLET Act I Scene 7

Act I, Scenes 9-10 - the play within the play and aftermath:

HAMLET Act I Scenes 9-10

Act II, Scene 4 - the graveyard:

HAMLET Act II Scene 4

You can see in the last that we had to shift things a bit to make way for the coffin - it was delivered by Gaby and Nick to the space yesterday while we were there, and was larger than anticipated. Ah, well, it'll work. We have a coffin. Great!

Okay, time to finish up the morning's online business and get back to lines. I've got a week to become a proper Hamlet. Almost there. Almost there.

IWH as Hamlet, closer

collisionwork: (Moni)
Once again, beginning to run out of good photos - we returned the camera we borrowed from Robert Honeywell, and now I'm just going through everything we shot while we had it.

Here's Hooker and Moni in one of their temporary detentes over the currently favorited chair for each of them:

H&M Agree to Share

And Moni on the identical chair across the room, where she can be close to Mommy-Berit's normal position:

Moni Pretty on Chair

Meanwhile, back in the bedroom, I take a nap and my little buddy joins me to remind me who rules my sleeptime:

Hooker Rules Papa's Nap

And congrats to our great friends, regular catsitters, and cast members of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet, Christiaan Koop and Bryan Enk on the acquisition of their new feline buddy, Dharma!

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
We did a photo shoot at The Brick the other night, Berit and I, trying to get some usable images for the postcard (and elsewhere) of Ian W. Hill's Hamlet. We got a few good ones of varied kinds. We'll probably use an altered closeup of me for the card, so here's one of the other images of me as Hamlet we got:

Ian W. Hill's Hamlet

I'm going over all the line work I did last night and discovering that, of course, I've lost about 10% of all the lines I got down last night. I have four hours to get them back. Great.

collisionwork: (crazy)
Didn't have a chance to upload and share these shots till this morning.

Hooker was the first cat we got, in 2001. He bonded immediately with Berit, and wouldn't leave her alone - I had a day job at that point, so she was at home with him far more often.

Two years later, we got Simone, and I no longer had the day job. Moni latched onto Berit, and completely claimed her (still, she follows her around the apartment, constantly demands attention, etc.). Hooker moved his primary affections over to me.

They're both really lovey, to the point of annoyance - especially after we were gone for a month last Summer. Since we got back then, they won't leave us alone, EVER. Well, maybe for an hour here and there.

To the point of annoyance, yes, but not quite there.

Moni spends time with Berit on the couch:

Berit & Simone

Hooker wants it known that he should be more important to me than the computer:

Forehead Mooshing

collisionwork: (Tulse Luper)
Hip hip hoorah!

Not only do I have the Intarwebs back and working at CollisionWork Central, but we now haves the DSL and the wireless, enabling both our fine fine superfine computers much faster access.

This allows us now to view such fabulous videos as this one, a very special piece promoting the Pretentious Festival:

Which features Berit, myself, and a number of Brick Irregulars. Enjoy, if you must.


collisionwork: (Default)

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