Sticky Buisness! (Or, A 5 Shower Kind of Night)

Last night’s rehearsal was kind of a hot mess. Quite literally.

***If you haven’t figured out that bad things happen to me in the show yet and would like to be suprized, I suppose you shouldn’t read this post) ***

Because we ran costumes for the first time, this meant that I also got to work with the whole “bloody” package. Before the show, I put on my dress and we distressed it quite a bit and put a goodly amount of blood on it as well. It looked fantastic, but because the material of the dress was so thin, it completely bled through (ha) the fabric and I was covered in the stuff– and this was 5 minutes into rehearsal.

Thankfully, there is a mop sink in the space, so I awkwardly jumped in there and rinsed off as best I could. That was shower #1 of the evening.

We ran the show and it went okay. There is a lot to be worked out, especially in terms of transitions, so there was a lot of stopping and starting, but tonight we are going to work a lot of those so I am excited to see what the show feels like when it flows.

There were also a lot of weird spots. Last night I combination forgot I was going to get pushed/tripped and hit the deck pretty hard in the middle of a scene, so that was entirely awkward. Since starting this show, I have developed this perpetual bruise on my right leg, so I’m really grateful for the long dresses that I wear. At least no one will be staring at my weird shin bruise while I’m trying to act. Aaron (playing Titus) also somehow managed to stab himself. I’m just impressed with that one.

Speaking of awkward– so after my quick change (when I change into the dirty/bloody dress), I quickly realized that we hadn’t given the fake blood enough time to dry, because the dress was sticky. And when I say sticky, I mean there was a moment when I couldn’t get up because I was literally stuck to the floor.

The remarkable thing was that because the dress was so sticky, it also kept sticking to itself– so by the time I got done running the blocking for the first scene I wear the dress for, it was bunched up and over my butt and underwear– and for some reason, in that moment, I just thought to myself “well, this is happening, might as well use it”.
I am usually very self-concious about portions of my body– I’ll wear a towel, no problem, but anything that reveals anything higher than 3 inches above my knees is right out– and apparently, all it took to get over that is being thrown on stage with no choice but to deal with it.

It was embarassing, yes, but I figured, hey, after everything else that my character has gone through, having people see my underwear is probably the least of my worries.

Running that scene was an odd experience. I was so sticky that it was hard to work with the other actors, plus bunchy costume issues and the distration of the gore made it really hard to focus. It also turns out that the mint flavoring in the blood burns my mouth pretty badly after awhile.

On top of all of this, I was trying desperately to remember the things that we’ve worked on, and that flew straight out of my head the minute I hit the stage, which is really frustrating and made focusing even harder.

So we got to intermission and I went to go take shower #2 of the evening. While I was getting ready, I happened to look down at the stage and realized that the floor was absolutely covered in blood. Ooops. I have no idea why the thought didn’t occur to me to take a picture, but I will be regretting that one for a long time.

After we ran the scene, we had a quick conference with the directing staff who decided that there was just too much blood, so after rehearsal, I got back in the dress and we worked on getting the right amount of blood. (And I took shower #3). After looking at it for awhile and trying different things, eventually we decided that our best bet was going to be to start over completely from scratch (after I took shower #4).  

I took the dress home and prayed to every god I could think of that it would turn out okay in the wash, and what do you know, at 2AM I pulled a pristine dress out of my washer. God bless you, Ben Nye. After breathing a long, long sigh of relief, I took shower #5 (which meant washing blood out of my wig as well) and I went to sleep. Kind of.

At rehearsal, Jake told me that after my character can no longer speak, I also am not allowed to speak. Backstage or anything. This was immensely frustrating because it turns out that I am a terrible mime. It also didn’t help that half of the cast thought this was hilarious and took it as an opportunity to ask me ridiculously complicated questions and “accidentally misinterpret” my answer. It was actually kind of fun to see what they came up with based on my “signs”.

I have decided that having Jake as a director is amazing until 45 minutes before I go to bed. There comes a point in every process where the show kind of takes over my life, and because I’m sharing my life with my director (whose life it is also taking over), it can be overwhelming at times. I have been struggling with this, because I both love and hate the fact that there are times when all we can find the energy to talk about is the show.

Tonight we’re going to get notes from last night’s run, and I am anxious to see what the directing staff thought. We’re also going to try some more of the special effects tonight so I am excited to see how they turn out.

A few people have asked me why I have been blogging this rehearsal process. Honestly? I’m not sure. I suppose there is something about getting my thoughts down that keeps me a little saner, but I think a lot of it has to do with this experience as a whole. This has been such a cool process, and one where I feel that I am growing as an actor, so I wanted to keep a record of that. And I figure someday when I’m old I can read back and be like “oh yeah, one time I played Lavinia and it was amazing”.  (So what I’m saying is that it won’t hurt my feelings if you think these are boring).


Tonight, we dine in hell. Or at least rehearse there.

I just got off the phone with the (so very, very nice and funny) contractor who is in charge of construction at our theatre space, and he has informed me that the air conditioning should be functional by Friday! Hooray! I am very relieved that our patrons will be able to be comfortable while watching our show. Well, as comfortable as they can be, I suppose, granted the show they’re watching.

I stopped down there this morning to do some quick things and it. is. HOT. It’s actually hotter inside than out, which is interesting. It will be something of an acting challenge tonight, I think. Act, sweaty actor! Act!

However, the best part of today is that tonight we’re running in costumes for the first time. Kate, our wonderful costumer, has done an incredible job on a shoe-string budget creating an insane level of detail and authenticity to the world. It’s so strange– when I’ve gone downstairs to look at the costumes, I immediately understand the world that these characters live in, just by color and texture and feel. Jessica, who is playing Tamora, has some incredible custom-built pieces that rock my socks just seeing them on the hanger, so I am very excited to see them under the lights.

I also am running the “gore” for the first time tonight, and I am both nervous and excited. Excited because I think it’s really going to help me in a couple of the scenes that I’ve been struggling with, nervous because holy shit do I have a fast costume change with about 14 things to do. I want to do a behind-the-scenes-video of my costume change, just to see how ridiculous it must look from not my perspective.

I am a list person, so I have been working on the various lists I need hung in my changing area to keep me from going insane, and it seems like every item I come up with presents three more things I need to do before THAT particular thing can get done. This show is a strange beast.

I’m very excited to get an audience. Yesterday I had a group of 70 (SEVENTY) call and confirm, so that was an amazing feeling, and on top of that, there has been a lot of positive buzz about the show in general, so I am hoping it will be well attended.

Tonight, the biggest focus is going to be getting through that damn quick change and seeing how the show feels as a whole. I am so excited– I have four hours before I even need to get ready to go and I keep watching the clock like a kid on Christmas. As the Black Eyed Peas once wrote,  “I just have a really good feeling about tonight”.

Is it weird that I’m this excited to get blood all over me?


Building Rome In A Day

Yesterday was “build day” at our space.

And a space we have.

I’m not going to lie, it is an impressive-feeling space. The ceilings are high enough in the Stern Center to give plenty of room for our drape, so between the drape and the lighting rig, it looks incredible. I’m really excited to work the show as a whole.

I also am entirely proud that I was able to set up four dimmer packs and a board with a system I’d never worked in before in less than an hour. The wash is going to be a little uneven because of the possibilities of direction and shadows, (3-sided rig on a 4-sided set) but last night I had the revelation that it actually works for the needs of the show. I need to work the lighting cues and make sure the lights are coming on when they’re supposed to, but they are working, and that’s the most important thing.

We also shot the adverts to the show this weekend, so on-the-fly learning imovie enough to put together the ads was a frustrating (if ultimately successful) venture. They wound up coming out really nice. Here’s this week, if you’re interested.

There is going to be a really fun article by David Burke in the paper about the show on Saturday, so I am excited for that as well.

I’m exhausted and happy. I’m disappointed there isn’t rehearsal tonight– I feel like we had a ton of momentum and now I have to put that on pause for two days while I wait for the run, but I think it will give me some time to absorb what we worked on at rehearsal and get a few more things done for the show that I’ve been putting off.

Last night I couldn’t sleep and so I decided to finally put together my stumps for the “reveal” scene. I did some research on the internet to come up with the best way of doing it, and oh my god. They are disgusting. Like, they make me uncomfortable to look at and I made them. I am excited to see how they read under the lights, because I think it’s going to be awesome. In a horrific sort of way. Which, really, in this show, is the best thing possible to happen.

So as not to give away spoilers, I will refrain from posting pictures until after the show is over, but afterwards, I am determined to publish a “So You’re Doing Titus Andronicus…A Comprehensive Guide to Guts and Gore”. It’s going to be epic.