Cancellation. Disappointment.

I had such grand plans. I was so looking forward to revisiting Carol.

It has been the first role where I was actually proud of myself and my work.

That is hard, truly hard, to admit – caught as I am in the flux between self-hatred and narcissism.

During the performances I was terrified and fighting, I was strong and in control, I came close to tears every single night.

Don’t you begin to see? Don’t you begin to understand? It’s not for you to say

Then, after it was advertised in the newspaper, my seemingly-cursed costar pulled out.

Poor dude missed the first two performances, stuck in Australia, missed rehearsals due to illnesses and dog-attack, and now a family death.

And I? All I can seem to care about is how disappointed I am. Ridiculous. There goes the self-hatred again.

Oh, Oleanna – reviews

Oleanna Poster

CoStar was at the show last night. It was … a relief. And weird. He brings a whole different energy to the role than the lovely Director. He’s much more pompous – despite the lack of a British accent. Hilarious.

In the mean time? we have been reviewed. Twice. One with the CoStar and one without. Incidentally, each one has mentioned the Alasdair Thompson debacle. It’s an odd coincidence that Alasdair digs himself into this damn hole in the same week that we open a play about feminism, political correctness, and devastating misunderstandings.

Excerpts.

1. Maggie Rainey-Smith
David Mamet’s play is not so funny, more compelling, and thought-provoking. The acting is outstanding and all the more impressive because one of the actors, Damian Reid, was stranded in Melbourne due to the ash-cloud from the Chilean volcano, and John Marwick, Director of the play, stepped in and read the lines (to perfection) of the Professor. The student, Carol, is mesmerizingly played by Sarah-Rose Burke who has to develop the character of Carol over eighty minutes in a stunning yet subtly splendid performance. It is the first time I have seen the play and cannot compare this production with any other, but it was brilliantly rendered so that your sympathies are constantly moving (well mine, anyway) from one character to another. The wardrobe too, played a fascinating role in the development of the character of Carol, the student, who starts the play as a confused almost hapless student in her ankle-length little black socks and slipper-style shoes, and in the next act she is wearing fabulously hot shiny red shoes and the final act wearing lace-up boots, in the powerful position of being able to threaten the Professor’s tenure, and finally, much worse, for both of them.

Oh, the ending is superb, and having looked up the play, I see that the ending is often changed sometimes, depending on the Director…

“The danger with the play is that it can easily seem a partial, loaded, one-sided attack on the student and on female solidarity in general .But Pinter’s production scrupulously avoids that trap by giving equal weight to both sides of the argument.”

And so too, does John Marwick’s production.

2. Tanya Piejus
Mamet’s controversial script is based on the real-life case in the US of Anita Hill who alleged her supervisor Clarence Thomas had made provocative and harassing sexual statements while she was a student.

It can be read in two ways: as a teacher who misuses his power and seriously damages a vulnerable student, or as extreme political correctness that ruins the life of someone who only had good intentions. By the end of this production, audience opinion was divided between the two with one commenting that it was a parallel statement of both.

This is testament to director John Marwick’s skill in delivering a startling two-hander to a modern audience. Mamet wrote the play in the early 1990s and Marwick has avoided the easy option of making it a period piece, instead blurring the lines even more between who is right and who is wrong.

Two-handers are a challenge for any actor and this one is particularly so with its staccato, cut-off dialogue and unrelenting theme. Both Damian Reid as university professor John and Sarah-Rose Burke as his deceptively naïve student Carol carry their roles with assurance and skill, steadily weaving two solidly opposed characters who draw the audience’s sympathies back and forth between them.

Reid imbues John with an insufferable academic pomposity that is nevertheless well-meaning. His systematic ruin at the hands of Carol is painful to watch, but you can’t help feeling by the end of the piece that he should have known better.

Burke’s Carol is on the one hand vulnerable and helpless, and on the other sly and domineering. Her deft portrayal raises as many questions as it answers, as she twists and manipulates John’s intentions to her own agenda and that of the sinister ‘group’ she claims to represent.

The actors work on an intimate 60-seat traverse stage tucked away behind the blacks at Butterfly Creek’s usual performance venue, Muritai School Hall. It’s a brave and wise choice of staging, bringing the audience uncomfortably close to the one-room setting where all the action takes place. In fact, the final violent act of the play was so close to the front row that it freaked out the audience member closest to it.

At work late ...

On Ash Clouds and Oleanna

Oleanna Poster

I am two performances through our six performance season of Oleanna. I still have not performed with my co-star.
It’s a little ridiculous. By which I mean, of course, that it is COMPLETELY ridiculous.

We are a cast of two. Two people on the stage. One person is missing? and half the goddamn cast is gone.

On Monday CoStar flew to Australia for work. Of course he managed to get there just fine. The Ash Cloud only wanted to fuck my shit up, obviously. He was due back at midnight Tuesday. We organised to have a run through on Wednesday night, the night before we opened, so that we could erase the shambles that was last Sunday’s rehearsal from our minds.

Mid-afternoon Wednesday we heard he would not be back for that night’s rehearsal. The ash cloud was cancelling flights left right and centre. Our esteemed director took up the mantle, and a script, and read the lines for me.

CoStar thought he would be back mid-morning Thursday. So I arranged to take half the afternoon off work, to meet up at the performance site, to run the play before that evening’s opening night.

I think you can see where this is going. Mid-morning Thursday we heard he would NOT be back for that evening’s performance.
Still, we met in the afternoon, and it was decided that we couldn’t just cancel. The director, thankfully a very skilled actor in his own right, would do as he had done and read the lines. We would have to offer refunds or rainchecks to another night. But it was the best we could do.

The performance ran without a hitch. Despite the moment when I skipped half a page of script. Oops. But most importantly, noone asked for their money back, or to attend on another night. The director is really just that good. It didn’t matter that he had a small paperback in his hand 90% of the time.

Last night was the second performance. Again, CoStar was a no-show.
I’m being uncharitable. I’m sure he would have been there if he could. But the ash cloud …

I woke this morning to news that he is in the country. He is IN THE COUNTRY. He has only missed 1/3 of the performances.

Now I’m just hanging out to hear what time we are meeting for a run through before tonight …

Oleanna

In the news ...

My play opens in 6 days. SIX DAYS.
We only have 3 rehearsals left. I feel a little faint when I think about that.
There is so much pressure. SO much pressure. When there are only two of you on the stage? so much pressure.

But I think it’s going well. I get moments when even I, always my harshest critic, think I’m pretty okay at this acting business.

Then I read, in the latest Troupe newsletter, this:

Sarah-Rose brings a complexity to Carol that I haven’t seen her achieve before. We see naivety and lack of confidence mixed with girlishness, flirtation, and the suggestion of a dangerous side.

SO MUCH PRESSURE.

Oleanna Poster

Contains coarse language and adult themes. Yes.

Oleanna Poster

Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe presents

Oleanna by David Mamet

Directed by John Marwick
With Sarah-Rose Burke and Damian Reid

Muritai School Theatre, Eastbourne
8 p.m. 23, 24, 25, 30 June 1 & 2 July

A controversial American adult drama about a university lecturer and one of his young woman students. It’s about how a teacher who misuses his power can seriously damage a vulnerable student. Or maybe it’s about how political correctness can be carried to extremes and damage the lives of well-meaning people. It’s about sexual harassment – or maybe it’s about extreme feminism.

When this piece opened on Broadway fights broke out between members of the audience. Come and see it for yourself!

80 minutes – no interval – latecomers not admitted. 8 pm start – bar open from 7.30 pm.

Contains some coarse language and adult themes – not suitable for children.

Presented in an intimate stage setting – seating limited to 60 each evening – bookings essential.

Tickets: $15 & $12 from http://www.bctt.org.nz; Rona Gallery, Eastbourne; or call 0832 77790

365 in 2011

Oh Darling 365

Sunday: Eastbourne for Auditions
Sunday
It was pouring with rain in the morning but by the time I made it around to Eastbourne for the Oleanna auditions it was bright bright sunshine. Crazy Wellington Autumn.

Monday: Going for a Run
Monday
I got home from work and I was unusually full of energy, so I went for a run. Madness!

Tuesday: I love this Workshop Denim Ad
Tuesday
I love this ad for Workshop Denim. Navy blue glitter & piercing eyes.

Wednesday: I got the part!
Wednesday
I got the part I auditioned for. I was thrilled.

Thursday: Winter's Sweatshirt
Thursday
The last day of March. I found a sweatshirt to see me through winter.

Friday: quite a few lines
Friday
I printed a copy of the Oleanna script and highlighted my lines. There are quite a few.

Saturday: Reading Fashion Magazines
Saturday
I spent a couple of hours reading the Fashion magazines that have been piling up for months. Autumn inspiration.

&

Post shower

365 in 2011

Oh Darling 365

Sunday: Wasp
Sunday
A lazy day. The last one before show week.

Monday: We made the Dom Post
Monday
Morning of our Dress Rehearsal – we made the Dom Post.

Tuesday: Opening Night
Tuesday
Opening night!

Wednesday: Public Transport on the way round to Eastbourne
Wednesday
Public transport on the way round to the show. Trying to not fall asleep and miss the stop.

Thursday: Waiting for the Bus
Thursday
I find the window dressing for the audiologist’s store intriguing. Why dp they even bother?

Friday: The Bay
Friday
A grey day at the bay. And still, we performed outside.

Saturday: Painted Bus Stop
Saturday
Closing night. Exhausted.

&

Braided Hair

I am a plain-dealing villain

Much Ado About Nothing
(no, I don’t know why there is a hyphen there either)

So yes, I’m in YET ANOTHER Shakespeare production.

This year’s Butterfly Creek Bard in the Yard is Much Ado About Nothing.
I’m playing Don John, The Bastard. I enjoy this a lot. So if you want to come see me act like a cunt for a couple of hours & generally put Keanu Reeves to shame …

Sad Keanu

BCTT Bard in the Yard production of Much Ado About Nothing
1-5 March at 7:30pm
Muritai School Yard, Muritai Road, Eastbourne.
Tickets $15 available through Rona Gallery, on the door, or through bctt.org.nz

And yes. I know it’s all the way round in Eastbourne but! There’s a pub right by the school which does REALLY good pizza. And steak. And fries. And beer. And wine.

Post-Show Malaise

Monday: A holiday. More bed, more Criminal Minds

It always happens like this.
I don’t take care of myself very well when I’m coming to the end of the show. I can’t eat in the evenings of a performance and I run on caffeine, stress, nerves, and adrenaline.
I end up covered in bruises and with exhaustion luggage under my eyes that lasts for a week.

This time I have also ended up with some horrible flu/tonsilitis/malaise illness.
It probably doesn’t help that during rehearsals/performances there was always one cast member silently (or not-so-silently) suffering from a cold. I thought my usually robust immune system would ward it off. I never get sick.
But then, the not eating and not sleeping, and the bruises … I am sick.

Everything sounds underwater and I have a horrible hacking cough.

I should probably be at home in bed but, as these things inevitably go, it coincided with a couple of days of work where I really couldn’t be absent. And now? when I could possibly take a day off with little guilt? I’m feeling better. Ish.

Thank goodness for chicken noodle soup.

Nerves nerves nerves

BCTT One Flesh Poster

One Flesh opens tonight!
8pm, St Alban’s Church, Eastbourne.
Every night til Saturday night.
Tickets $15 & available on the door or through bctt.org.nz

I am super nervous. Tonight I have to open my shirt in front of up to 100 paying audience members. The closest I have ever come (or am likely to ever come) to being a stripper*.

But that’s not what I’m most nervous about. As always it comes down to lines line lines and entrances. Also rolling cigarettes on stage without showering myself with tobacco.

* Of course, it works in the context of the play. I never would have done it otherwise.