There is so much I have to write because its been so long since I’ve done so. I gave up writing, thinking, reflecting after I had some rough classes and my exhaustion took over every bone in my body. I took some time off. A full weekend to be exact – where instead of focusing on reflecting in word, I experienced, I reflected in person with those adventuring alongside me, and I felt everything around me in its immediacy.
Friday night I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Chicago (with my one and only) for dinner and a show. We ate pizza and drank wine before heading to see “The Little Prince” at The Lookingglass Theatre. This was a play that I knew only the basic plot behind before seeing it in production, but it was a show that I knew immediately was going to be magical. I saw one photo online on the website advertising the show and I could feel the energy leaping out of the photo. I felt the excitement, the wonder, the awe – I was positive that this was going to be a theatrical experience not to be missed.
And boy was I right.
On our night seeing the production, the Understudy for the lead role alongside the Little Prince was in for his primary actor and even that didn’t hinder the feeling of magic and ensemble that the actors worked to create. The entire production felt right, felt like puzzle pieces constantly coming together to create a beautiful picture of childish wonder and love. The show had me on the edge of my seat – listening, laughing, crying. I felt myself dropping my joy – laughing without thought – and looking at things with the childish magic I hope to never lose.
The show worked much in the way that Mary Zimmermann’s productions do – using simple objects to represent much larger things. Hoola-hoops with lights representing passing stars and planets, people balancing on big exercise balls to represent other planets and their occupants, gloved hands representing a certain plant and the removal of said glove representing the killing of that plant. It was theatre magic where you could see what was producing the magic – but you gave in to it and accepted it. It was theatre that asked the audience to participate and by participating you truly got to experience the magic.
The set was a gigantic piece of paper – parts of which were so angled they acted as a slide for actors to slide down into scenes (especially useful for the Little Prince and the young nature of that character). The piece of paper also acted legitimately as a piece of paper for the lead male actor to draw upon as he reclaims his childish sense of wonder and awe – he begins to draw more and more throughout the play – to remember his love of drawing and art that he had given up in order to be “an adult”.
As we drove back to Milwaukee from Chicago I was so inspired to write down my immediate emotions and here is what I wrote in the dark light of passing street lights:
“Only with the heart can on see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye” (a direct quote from the play)
I think its important to keep a little child, a little prince, in our hearts to remind us of the simple importances – of the grandeur of what is seemingly “small” as we grow up.
because that is what makes life exciting and full and I plan to live a fuller life than most.
and that is all that “The Little Prince” was and so much more. The play was hands down one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. And it makes me so happy to do what I do. It transported the entire audience to a place where anything was possible and everything was pure magic and wonderment. I clearly can’t say the word “magic” enough about this performance. I apologize for my lack of variety in vocabulary – but truly that’s the only word that does the play partial justice. Magic.
And from the magic of watching a beautiful play I moved on to rehearsing to be a part of my own magical production.
Recently I have been cast in a production of “Amadeus” as one of the Venticelli. Traditionally the Venticelli are two men, two quick-footed somewhat foolish men. In our production there are three of us – all female – playing this group of “Venticelli” or “Venticelle” since we are all female.
And this role provides a whole world of magical discovery. Since the role is traditionally male and much different then we are playing it – its very open for discovery and play.
We are described as “Little Winds” by the character of Salieri who we serve with our gossip and rumors about those around town. We are to be feminine, a stylized representation of the “everyday man”, and full of gossip of the entire town. At the moment its a lot of exploring different personalities and stances. To say I’m clear on what we are exactly is to lie to everyone and myself. I understand the tool that we are to the play – we move time forward and provide the important information the audience needs to know to understand the next scenes – but what we are in the world of the play I still am attempting to grasp. We are a trio, but a trio of individuals – we can have clear personalities and still meld together into a group of gossiping entities. We are omniscient it seems and representations of different groups of people rather than a single specific person going by a certain name.
It’s a fascinating position to be in as an actor. We run on and off the stage quickly with our information and our in someways a storm, a flurry, a tornado of information and laughter and silliness. We are clowns. Intellectual clowns.
We are the magic that holds Amadeus together – without the Venticelli there would be a need for rewriting this play. That says something very interesting about our characters – our group – we are the glue that holds everything together.
And right now that is as much as I understand. It isn’t much. It’s only the beginning ideas. But as I discover more, I will write more, and attempt to explain what its like to create a character in a situation like this. Being a representation versus a specific character type. It will be a very interesting journey.
And all along this journey I will continue to work annoying hours at a coffee shop and teach at random to children who don’t always want me present – in the hopes of bettering my teaching and my upcoming classes I have picked up my copy of “Improvisation for the Theatre” by Viola Spolin that I have own for awhile but have yet to crack open.
As we did laundry Sunday morning I read through the beginning of this book and found a lot of beautiful quotes and thoughts that have struck me about teaching and about what I need to reevaluate in myself. I have found just one to reflect upon today – though I find it be perhaps the most important one I came across.
“We learn through experience and experiencing, and no one teaches anyone anything”
Now I understand that idea first hand. I know the first moment where I really impressed people in my acting – where I really let go and created something before my professor’s eyes. That moment came after I experienced some new things the summer before – after I had defied my parents and taken a road trip to Ohio without them knowing – after I lost my virginity to someone who didn’t deserve it – after I felt the intense feeling of heartbreak knowing that someone who had taken so precious to me didn’t give a shit about how precious I truly was. Those experiences on top of so many more suddenly gave me this vulnerability and openness on stage that I hadn’t ever had before and people took notice. It is all about experiencing – but this quote was a kind reminder that no one teaches anyone anything – teachers are more like guides. And that is what I am attempting to be in my classes – a guide to their own creative expression.