Actor, Puppeteer, and Teaching Artist

Rose Rage - Hidden Room Theatre

Rose Rage

Rose Rage opens this very night and it’s been a slog personally.

Coming on the heels of Tis Pity She’s a Whore I came to this process tired and sort of emotionally roiled. We had a great Tis Pity run and I was proud of my work but the end was cut short by rain and there was quite literally no break. I left Rose Rage rehearsal to stand in the rain and not get to perform the final Tis Pity show and then the next night back into Rose Rage. It’s been a long time since I’ve done concurrent shows. I’ve been several people since then and there a few calcifications that needed to be broken away to switch modes.

One of them is the personal fight I’ve had to be more selfish in my performance choices. Democracy is a political system not a proper methods of art creation and I have been too democratic and team oriented in my personal artistic meandering. In my desire to be a team builder and consensus forger I too often have forgotten to raise my own voice and toss my ideas into the ring to be part of that creation. I was much better about that in Tis Pity and the show was stronger for it.

My role in Rose Rage requires a different tension. There are a fistful of players in Rose Rage that function as body movers, fighters, rogues, ruffians, peasants, Messengers (No. 4?) and assassins (SPOILER!). The tension is that these roles are small and almost textless but require the same sort of focus, intent and energy that York, or Cade or Margaret do. Why? Because the fringe roles are the world of the play and when Cade or Edward or Margaret turns to an attendant or a soldier they need to be met with… something.

Here’s where choices and instincts matter.
The first choice is whether or not you need to be invisible. When carrying off {SPOILER} at the end of scene 23 I need to be engaged in the scene so when the testing audience member checks I’m involved or not (and they do) I am but other than that I don’t “appear” until Edward needs something (someone) cleaned. I equate this with Upstairs Downstairs sort of invisible servants making sure coasters appear under glasses like magic.

The non-invisible choices come when those one-off ruffians and messengers provide the tension for the Named or deliver outside world exposition. In the Jack Cade scenes the rebels provide the push and pull that keep the scene active until Outside Forces meddle, we are effectively the negative space that defines Cade. We need to give him that push and pull or he’s simply delivering text. How do you push, how do you pull? When do you let him have eye contact? When do you dodge?

Messengers have the chance to ping a scene and change the energy directly. Enter with low energy and bad news and it can be a trap door for a scene, dropping the Named into despair and making them fight out again. Enter with high energy and good news and hypercharge the rest of the scene. Miss an entrance? Shoot the show in the face.

Laurence Pears as Jack Cade photo by Kristen Wrzesniewski

The other thing you need to be in these sorts of roles is production invisible. There is no benefit to casting you over casting a turnip in the (multiple) role(s) if you are requiring as much time from the production team as your leads.

I love the stretch of making my loud 250 pound self into a ninja. I love the challenge of feeling the rhythm of the scene and playing the one note I have in perfect time with it. And I get a sword!

Exhausted as I am it’s been a ton of fun so far and we haven’t even added the audience in yet.

I hope to see you soon.
(Good seats still available!)

[This post was originally published 6/26/2012 at the Cambiare Productions Blog]

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