3/11/2014 0 Comments
It's Been . . . One Week
Anyone who’s a Barenaked Ladies fan, switched on his or her radio in the 1990s, or has spent more than four minutes with me will know the song “One Week.” Well, it’s been one week since I started rehearsals, and holy cow, what a week. In some ways, this week felt like the year 2013 did for me: it went by SO FAST, but it feels like the beginning of it was AGES ago . . .
The way rehearsals work for this particular show at Portland Stage Company (it changes show to show) is a six-hour day, usually noon-6pm (although it fluctuates slightly). With a lunch break and two ten-minute breaks, this is actually only five hours plus change. You might think, “That’s considered full-time work?” Well, think of it more like a school-day/day at university: for every hour I’ve been in rehearsal, I’ve racked up about half-an-hour of homework. Each day I’ve spent at least a few hours on the script in some manner (either memorizing lines or researching my character). Oh, and we have only one day off a week (Monday).
What does one research? Well, I lucked out when I got cast as Daniel in Tribes, because I got a rich, deeply developed character with much to explore. After spending two full days of table-work (it’s what it sounds like – we sat around a table for two full days, reading through the script, pulling it apart; discussing the grand, sweeping themes of the text as well as the minutia of a particular character’s idiosyncrasies), as well as four full days of rehearsal, it was clear to me that the character I’m playing is bipolar. I’m so glad Nina Raine (the playwright) didn’t simply put “Daniel: 28 years old, bipolar.” It would have detrimentally simplified the character, and it was great to make this discovery on my own through well-placed clues throughout the text. At the end of the play, Daniel starts stammering for the first time since he was ten, he has auditory hallucinations, he can’t sleep . . . he’s a hot mess. So I’ve been researching different types of stammers/stutters, the ways bipolar disorder manifests itself, what factors might contribute/exacerbate Daniel’s condition, as well as cultural and societal influences (this play is set in London). Needless to say, I’ve had my hands full!
The cast is an eclectic and hilarious mix of people (as evidenced by the photo above); in some ways, my first day of rehearsal felt like the first day of kindergarten: all of my castmates (except one local actor) are professional actors who do this as their full-time job; this isn’t something they all do after working a full day at the warehouse. These are people who have been honing their craft for, in some cases, almost thirty years. These are the COOL kids, the ones who know the playground and the lunch room and how to stay on the principal’s good side . . . Needless to say, I have a lot to learn from this bunch!
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you? Be in touch!
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Matthew Stuart Jackson
Actor, writer, comedian, cat-lover, scratched-dvd-hater, and aspiring helicopter pirate.