Thursday, November 27, 2014

Something in the water in Geneva

In which our Diva gives thanks that her Frankenstein castmates made everything such fun backstage

Frankenstein Official Quote List
GreenMan Theatre, Fall 2014

You can be in various stages of beverage... ness.

Let's have you pout again. That was good.

You're just kind of frantic piano-ing, so you don't notice him right away.

She's a great governess. She's the best. And you really did have a frog situation with the other one.

If you're not Victor or the Creature, you can take five.
 - Am I the Creature?
 - If you don't know if you're the Creature or not, I can't help you.

So fight your natural instinct to get up and punch them in the face right away.

Walk it off. She's going to die. You just got beat up.

You're Enlightenment guys. You think you know everything because you read a book.
 - I read two books, thank you very much.

Any inappropriate audience reactions will be dealt with by the Creature.

I feel bad for Victor, but I hate him too.
 - Ding-ding-ding! You get to lead the talkback.

I made you a present.
 - I made you a playmate. He's in the park waiting for you.
 - Totally in keeping with the period. Handmade presents.

And once the set's built, the first time you smack your head on that wall will remind you.

Did we do this part yet?
 - No. Be careful.
 - Kung fu Frankenstein.

Easiest scene transition in the entire show. Except for the giant tarp.

I think Bill & Ted might have paid a visit and dropped their shoes off.

What am I doing?
 - Trying to comfort the crazy man.
 - Same as always.

Now let's do one "happy, fun, before everyone dies."

Let us talk of happier times. Things. Topics. Three T's.

And then I realized that someone was talking about watching Dexter's Laboratory when they were little, and I was sad.

No! No amount of torture? Line.
 - Yep.

Thank you, son. I will go and inform your wife. Uh, your future wife. Your bride.
 - That's the one.

Justine and Elizabeth, you learn about this conversation, and you can feel about that however you feel about that. Disgruntled is one option.

I wrote in big letters "Victor and Creature up." Because you both love the floor.

Whose body parts are these? Why hasn't CSI been invented yet? We can pay them in Toblerone and clocks.

Elizabeth, you're next. We're going to kill you now.
 - What about Henry?
 - Oh, yeah, Henry!
 - I'm going to live.

Dying is great. Keep doing it.

I think that will work better once I figure out where to touch her in a nice way.
 - Yes. We don't want any sort of lawsuits.

So in a... appropriate for Dad, and yet also, like, kind of locker-room way.

The Creature has an extra body part.
 - It's your purple appendage.

Go to the end of 7. Victor beats Effie. I mean Elizabeth. That's a different scene that I didn't write.

This guy said, "You look like Tina Fey," and I was like, "You're too old for me. Do you have a grandson?"

Why couldn't you get, like, a whole person and bring him to life?
- Well, that's no challenge!

I finished punching and I thought, "Oh, I wonder where I went with that? Well, it doesn't matter now."

My keyword for a crushed windpipe will be a lot of wheezing.

You're sort of period-esque moving while carrying a bench. And if that's not vague enough for you, I can try to make it a little more unclear.

That time I was listening for the knap. I have been growling. I like growling. Growling is fun.

That felt kind of weird.
 - It looked weird. I think it's because your foot got hooked on her boob.
 - If I had a nickel for every time somebody said that...

At what point in that do I die?

I've been saying, "I've been riding a horse for forever. Is this Felix's family?"
 - You'll notice that I'm walking weird. It's not just because I'm Spanish. I've been riding a horse.

I think you can enjoy his bad Spanish a little more. You already are, but you can be like, "Oh honey, we don't need to talk."

We speak the universal language.
 - Polish.

I wrote lots of kissing notes tonight. We'll work on it.

People will get it. And the people who don't, that's fine. Their friend will explain it to them in the car on the way home.

Warm up your slapping hand.

Ben's doing this reaction of "Oh, my hand came from a dead guy. That's gross. Oh, and this one too. That's also gross."

Henry, your grossness is still awesome. Keep it up. Literally.

It can get a little shouty. Then it's like, "I have rage! Don't you have rage? Yes! I have rage!"

Erick, you need to learn to use a blanket. Or maybe it's Frank.

Early is on time. On time is late.
 - Late is dead.

He's trying to defend you, but it's not working very well.
 - Yeah, you're supposed to be poking me.
 - I'm not into poking anyone.
 - It's against my beliefs.

You're so friendly. I'm too hungry to be friendly.
 - As long as you don't actually eat the people you're greeting, it's all good.

You sing like a bird. A vulture.

Becky, are you ready to get your face beat in?

Do you sweat?
 - He sweats on the inside.
 - I sweat on the inside and then I spit it all over Erick in our fight scene.

I think Val should go on just like that. Nothing says intimidation in the courtroom like a tank top and curlers.

I didn't care for Romper Room. It was too educational.

Everything has changed. The show is now a musical.
 - Ohhh, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you!
 - That's now the jail scene.
 - Hey, I'd be way more scared of Madeline Kahn than some random thug with a stick.

It's all your fault. You made me kick my own butt.

Unfortunately, most of the sound and light cues are cued off of violence.

Ahh. Oh, my knee. Ahh.
 - Oh, come now, you're a better actor than that.
 - Ahh.
 - We're gonna have to shoot him.

I'm waving the grey flag.
 - It's like, I'm kind of giving up. I sort of quit.

I'm telling lies to the child. What else is new?

Keep the bottles for Foley purposes.
 - Keep the bottles for killing.
 - I actually said "Keep the bottles for Foley," not killing. But killing is just as accurate.

Don't pace behind me.
 - I'm not pacing. I'm staring.

Yeah, that would be me leaving my brain in my other pants. Or rather my pants in the wrong place.

You've never looked at your scalp before?
 - Not close enough to see freckles.

 - Thank you, 27.
 - Sorry. Fifty-seven.
 - That's better.
 - Thank you, heart attack.

I was tempted, but I never seriously thought about it.
 - About what?
 - Punching someone.
 - Hunting someone?
 - PUNCHING someone.
 - Oh, I thought you said hunting someone.
 - That's a whole different level.

You want to do some highlights here so you can see the breakage of his head.
 - "Breakage of his head" is a phrase I really only want to hear in very specific circumstances.

I died? Nobody told me this.

Look what I found in the back.
 - Yay! More death!
 - More death bottles.
 - I'm going to have a fear of water bottles after this.

Why are we sitting on Duard?

She spent the whole week going "Thursday... Thursday..."
 - I'll kick his ass on Thursday.
 - And you know Mr. Val was like, "Honey, what's wrong?"
 - I haven't beaten anyone up in DAYS.

Do whatever you need to do to bring extra energy.
 - Should I eat all my Halloween candy?
 - I recommend doing that AFTER the show.

Thank you for washing my super-gross shirt.
 - Oh, yours was nothing compared to Erick's.
 - That was my excuse to myself.

Why didn't you make a puppy, seriously? Or, like, a chimpanzee.
 - Yeah, science starts with small animals. You should have made a slug.

And I saw it for the dumbest reason. I'm seven years old, and I saw Alan Rickman, and went *clutches heart*.
 - Y'know, Becky, that tells us so much about you.
 - It really does.

I'm going to tell her she's the cat's meow, and she's going to tell me I'm the cat's pajamas.
 - I love cats! And pajamas!

What if they canceled the show because someone couldn't get a shoe on?
 - That would be...
 - Ridiculous.
 - It would be a one-shoe show.

Erick, you've been e-Victored.
 - Wow.
 - You have no idea how much joy that brought me.

I will find you a water.
 - But only the green ones.
 - Don't start with me.

Looks like a greatcoat.
 - Well, it's good. I wouldn't call it great.

I already came up with a way that everyone could be happy. Except Justine.

Hey, Rachael, you used to be on my side. What happened?
 - I was never on your side. Sorry.

This isn't working.
 - You have to work for it.
 - I did. I gave her four mints for it.
 - That's not work. That's bribery.

I feel naked without at least eyeliner.
 - See, I feel naked without clothes, so I usually wear those.

Well, you had that look on your face like, "First I'm going to find out how you're doing, and then I'm going to destroy your day."

You should wear that out there. Be like, "I killed Victor."
 - I killed him for the hat.
 - I wish you never went to University! Bang!

That might not be the right show.
 - What show would it be?
 - Harvey.
 - See, I'd give it to my family, and my dad would be like, "Well, he said it was an adaptation."
 - I created a giant rabbit. He's invisible.

Now do you see the dangers of this game?
 - There are no dangers. I've only been hurt once, and that was when someone interfered.
 - True. And that someone was your mother.

So your version of flipping the bird to your mother is stealing all her chocolate and bringing it to us.
 - Yes. Also, she told me to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The spark of life

In which our Diva plays dramaturg as Victor plays God

Just got home from an encore screening of the National Theatre's amazing Frankenstein, which I was lucky enough to see on my UK trip in 2011. Still one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had in the audience of any theatre, and it was lovely to revisit that experience as well as see it in new ways courtesy of the expert filming.

Once there, I kicked myself for missing the opportunity to give out postcards for the entirely different Frankenstein in which I'm currently performing, which has been equally amazing in its own way, even if we can't afford several thousand light bulbs and a turntable/elevator. I did give the website info to some lovely geeky ladies sitting nearby; I do hope they come check us out!

It's been particularly gratifying to log my first actual credit as dramaturg, after years of diving down the research rabbit hole at the slightest provocation. And then there was the delight of watching Cory Sandrock's fantastic brand-new script evolve through two developmental readings, one of which afforded me the privilege of reading the delightfully developed role of Elizabeth. I have smaller roles in the full production, but they're still lots of fun, and I had a great time creating the lobby display too.

With a steampunk slant and some truly stunning performances, you really don't want to miss this one. If you come out Halloween night (with a delayed 9 pm start to let all the little ghouls and goblins get home and start in on the sugar coma), there's $5 off if you come in costume.

Hope to see you there!

Frankenstein runs through November 9. Visit the GreenMan Theatre website for more information.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mermaid-like awhile they bore her up

In which our Diva's much-delayed dream project draws ever closer to reality

It's been over a month since I scrawled the words "END OF PLAY" in a spiral notebook, and just over a week since I typed the same ones into Celtx. Over a decade since the idea first hatched in my little brain, Unvarnished: A Portrait of Elizabeth Siddal is finally becoming an actual coming-to-a-stage-near-you solo theatre piece.

It even has a Facebook page, for which the wonderful Pre-Raphaelite social mediasphere has already garnered 161 Likes. I'm in contact with a venue for the first public reading, which will likely be in November or December in Elgin, and mulling various logistical considerations for touring the fully realized production.

 Unvarnished on Facebook

With all that going on, of course I picked today to have a eureka moment about Ophelia's dress.

That's not entirely out of left field. In my text, the dress is the springboard for a little flight of fancy while Lizzie poses in the infamous tub, and it's always been important to my mental image of the show. But the details craved by my obsessive little costumer's brain (which couldn't help being a bit disappointed by the sad greyish thing the mostly gobsmackingly gorgeous Desperate Romantics put on Amy Manson; the designer for Emma West's Ophelia short film seems to have given it a little more thought, albeit on a restricted budget), are tantalizingly thin on the ground. Millais himself recorded in a letter that "To-day I have purchased a really splendid lady's ancient dress - all flowered over in silver embroidery - and I am going to paint it for 'Ophelia'. You may imagine it is something rather good when I tell you it cost me, old and dirty as it is, four pounds." (The Tate Britain educational info on the painting estimates that this would be about £250 today.)

Now, it didn't take too long to decide that a 20-something guy's idea of an "ancient dress" -- even if that 20-something guy is a genius painter intent on getting his masterpiece absolutely right -- is likely to be defined fairly broadly. In all likelihood, we're talking about something kept in a trunk for a generation or two before it found its way to the secondhand shop where Millais found it.

Which somewhat remarkably gives us more to go on than the painting itself, in which the distortion of the water makes it nigh impossible to discern much about the actual shape of the garment. That said, the shape does appear to be relatively simple, which lends further weight to the likelihood that it dated to the first couple decades of the 19th century.

The advent of machine-made net at the close of the 18th century paved the way for the early-19th-century fashion for gowns of muslin overlaid with embroidered net, often in gold or silver thread. So I've been working for a long time under the assumption that the Ophelia dress fell into that category, as typified by this gorgeous specimen at the V&A.


The place I've always been tripped up is the neckline, which is clearly a couple inches higher than is typically found on this type of dress, appearing to cover Lizzie's collarbones. It's one of the few structural details we actually can see in the painting...

...or so I've always thought.

That eureka moment I mentioned? Follow the red dotted line:

Yup. Right there in front of me the whole time: the actual neckline of the dress, outlined in reflective bluish highlights.

At first I thought maybe he painted the actual neckline, then altered it to look more medieval and/or better represent Ophelia's virginal innocence for his contemporary audience. But the more I look at it, the more I wonder what that lace flounce around the top of the V&A dress would look like if it were flipped up and clinging to its sopping wet wearer. I suspect it'd look a lot like this.

So, that's that direction settled on. Too bad I hemmed and hawed just a little too long about that perfect vintage sari on eBay; I probably could even have used the choli for the bodice! Ah, well. I'll just have to look around some more. Darn. Shopping. ;-)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

In which our Diva chills out in support of combating ALS and related diseases

Over five years ago (I got it wrong when I said four in the video), Spinal Muscular Atrophy took my brilliant, wacky, wonderful friend Abby away from us at the age of 33. With that in mind, I'm making "Ice Bucket" donations to both the ALSA and MDA.

The closing line of my blog post linked above was inspired by Abby's stated belief that any and all fanfics -- whether or not they had anything whatsoever to do with Stargate -- should end with the phrase "And then Teal'c took off his shirt." With that in mind, I have to think that wherever she's watching from, this is her favorite:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Houston, we have a draft!

In which our Diva reaches a noteworthy milestone

There's still a whole lot of work ahead of me before Unvarnished comes to a stage near you, but I cannot begin to tell you how sweet it was to scrawl these words this morning:


Meanwhile, another intrepid theatrical look into Lizzie's life is about to debut in New York. Be sure to check out Shakespeare's Sister Company and their imminent premiere of Kris Lundberg's Muse.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The quality of mercy

In which our Diva has been doing some listening and pondering

Being acquainted with a number of industry people on the other side of "The Pond," as well as a fan of various British TV fare, I've had quite a few conversations in the last few years that touch on the differences in acting education and career shapes between the US and UK. The broadest is that over here, we're much more likely to be specialists, whereas traditional British drama-school training assumes that you'll be doing a bit of everything -- theatre, film, TV, and what is arguably the most specialized in this country, audio.

British friends are often surprised when I explain that straight-up, studio-produced radio drama has been absent from American airwaves for decades, with a few NPR offerings recorded in front of live audiences as the closest thing that remains. Happily, there's been a resurgence of the form in the explosion of podcasting. Nobody could have predicted the runaway popularity of Welcome to Night Vale (which, after listening to it for nearly a year, I still think is most conveniently described as "News From Lake Wobegon with Cthulhu mythos," though that doesn't quite cover it), and the likes of Pendant Productions and Decoder Ring Theatre are making a pretty respectable showing too.

Meanwhile, though, Auntie Beeb never stopped putting original drama on the radio, and these days you can stream or download a lot of it online. (Unlike most of their video, BBC iPlayer radio programming can be played outside the UK.) Some programs are also delivered by podcast; I've been subscribed to the one for the Drama of the Week for a while now.

Sophie Lancaster smiles in front of a Harry Potter poster
Which is how I came to find Porcelain: The Trial for the Killing of Sophie Lancaster (sadly not currently available) in my digital media library in March. It sat there for weeks on end, un-listened-to, for precisely the reason it turned out to be even more interesting to me than it otherwise would have been: I was in the middle of rehearsals for The Laramie Project, and wasn't quite up to another dramatization of a hate crime against a young person by other young people.

Friday, May 2, 2014

How far would you go to find your soul?

In which our Diva will be heard but not seen, and is totally okay with that

Exciting news today! Voice of the Vespers, the independent sci-fi feature for which I did the opening narration and some other voice acting, will premiere in just four weeks' time!

I think I've posted the trailer before, but it's super shiny and I'm bursting with pride for writer/director Matthew Van Howe and the whole cast and crew, so here it is again:

The premiere will be held at 9:30 pm Friday, May 30, at the Classic Cinemas Ogden 6 in Naperville. Tickets are just $5. Check out the deets over on the Classic Cinemas website.

Please come on out and celebrate with us!