The Shapiro Files

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Joys of Anger

Last night was our first performance of Ballyhoo after the longest break we've had since we started the rehearsal process a couple of months ago. The second weekend of just about any production is almost invariably strange, as the cast and crew actually get to enjoy a handful of days of life outside of theater before entering the Twilight Zone of performance again. Interestingly, whereas most productions I've been in tend to have a rough "first-night-back" performance, I felt that last night may have been the best one yet. Well, at least it was for me.

Oddly, it had everything to do with my horrible mood.

I got a call from our director yesterday afternoon with an unusually vague "note" (theatrical term for feedback to actors) regarding my departing comments to Sunny (played by Becky). The note apparently came from a different director who had directed Ballyhoo at some point in the past and who, I'm guessing, happened to strike up a conversation with our director at some point after one of our performances last weekend. Supposedly the director felt I was "tentative" when saying goodbye to Sunny. Of course, she didn't say just when this was. Unfortunately, I have to say goodbye to Sunny something like 10 times over the course of the performance, so the lack of specificity was very frustrating. And not only was this irritating enough, but this wasn't even our director's note. Why would our director even care what someone else thinks? Not to mention, after two months of rehearsal, doing lots of character work, and a full weekend of performances already behind us, do I really need to hear I'm "being tentative" during some non-defined moment of the play? Aren't actors insecure enough without having to deal with vague feedback that can only succeed in making us crazier than we already are?

Needless to say, that phone call substantially soured my mood and I entered last night's performance very angry. Without having any specific guidance, I made every exit bigger — no matter who I was talking to. I certainly felt dishonest at times (it's the "method snob" in me), but clearly I had no other option.

At the end of the night, the director seemed very positive about my performance. I have to admit that my anger gave me an edge in all my scenes that probably wasn't there before (whether or not it's right for the character, well, I guess that's a discussion for another day). Nonetheless, I suppose I've learned the hard way that anger can be a very effective acting tool.

Now I just need somebody else to tick me off at some point today so I can have another good show tonight.


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