Friday, August 28, 2009

Moonlight, Theater

Last night was our dress rehearsal for Moliere's The Forced Marriage, which will play for the next two weekends on the grass near the sea, first at Shelter Island, then at Ocean Beach. What I'm trying to say is, we open tomorrow!

I was very nervous last night, because I am sharing the female lead with a friend (who is going to be out of town for half the performances) and it was my night "on." This was scary for two reasons (well, three, if you count "standing in front of strangers and shouting things," but that's never really been a problem for me): one, it was actually my first time (and I mean rehearsing) to play the role all the way through, and two, it was my first time learning the true amount of time it was going to take me to change from full gypsy regalia into a giant dress, a bridal crinoline and a towering white wig while the rest of the cast stalls the audience with a "seventh scene stretch."

Readers, on the subject of Number One, I am happy to say I had a ball out there fluttering my hands around, talking in a baby voice and swishing my baby-blue lace gown ("more like Scarlett O'Hara than Marie Antoinette," I remarked last night) as I sashay about, itemizing my goals in life, which include pleasure, shopping, parties, shopping, people and shopping. We had a small audience, which seemed partly invited, partly randoms who happened to be wandering by when they saw a dozen people kitted out like 17th century loons and couldn't look away. I really enjoy this kind of stylized role (which I don't think I've ever done before) and hope to make it even bigger and kookier for the real thing. I am also happy to have so much to do, even if it means some frantic machinations backstage to make it possible.

Ah, yes, that. On the subject of Number Two, the evening felt less successful. The Seventh Scene Stretch was but a memory when I hadn't even been zipped, and even with two people helping me arrange that two-foot bird's nest on my head, I still wasn't ready until the silence on stage was yawning and awkward. Clearly, I'm going to need another plan. But I know it can be done, because I saw Irma Vep and those guys had to do full changes every two minutes, sometimes even switching genders within that time frame.

I'm getting a little too attached to Shelter Island, where--amazingly--I had never been before this show. Twice now, a few of us have stayed after rehearsal to admire the view and chat, and given my druthers, I'd probably be out there until the sun came up. There's something weirdly magical about the spot, a perfect circle of grass in a roundabout, with a bell tower in the center, surrounded by bay, boats, the San Diego skyline and twinkling lights from every direction. The only sounds are the splashing water, sea gull screeches and the barking of seals (which grow more urgent with the hour, as if the seals are having a rager of a party out there.) I forget to be sentimental about the pleasures of San Diego most of the time, but on a warm night after a 95 degree day, I can't avoid a wave of gratitude for a moment in which I am laughing hysterically with new friends, each of us illuminated under the half moon at the very end of a beautiful summer.


Aunt LoLo said...

What you need, my friend, is a bigger pit crew!

Break a leg. :-D

Jen said...

Yes, indeed, you do!

Break a leg!

Miss J

Prosy said...

I love telling people to break a leg. It seems so mean and yet so nice.