Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

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I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Monday, November 11, 2002


Yesterday morning just as I'd soaped the washcloth the water went out. They are doing some work, replacing the mechanical meters with electronic ones and the timing was bad for me. It could have been worse, I only had to rinse my hands and the dribble as the water drained from the upstairs plumbing to the shower head was just enough.

On the way to rehearsal I was cut off/forced over several times. It would be nice to have a motorcycle with dump truck toughness. Just let the inattentive drivers bounce off you.

And number three, the real disaster. I have gotten a handle on Officer Welch in Rumors. Not as good as I would like, and I'm working hard in the time I have to keep going deeper. Ben, the director, has been especially happy with my work and choices the last three or four rehearsals. On the one hand I recognize myself getting in little behavior ruts when adjusting character, on the other hand I'm able to make pretty substantial and consistent changes. Not something I was able to do before last year's intensive class.

Now for the disaster. Last night was our preview, the final dress rehearsal in which people are invited for "Pay What You Will." Fairly early in the scenes where Officers Welch and Pudney are present I forgot my line. That's not quite an apt description. I know my lines, I forgot which line was up next, the line I'd just given. My brain seized. I kept looking from person to person as Officer Welch. Luckily the audience thought it was funny and was laughing. They knew something was wrong, but not all knew exactly what. When I was facing the cast I silently mouthed, "I'm lost!"

After 12 years, or maybe it was only 7 or 8 seconds Cookie tried to save me, saying something about the gunshots which didn't come up for another 10 minutes. I had to respond to that, and I improvised something non-committal, and finally Claire asked Chris the question I was supposed to ask and we were back on track. When the gunshots actually came out I added "Again!", changing the line to "Again! What gunshots?"

I've heard many actors talk about that special experience. I suspect it's like the motorcycle adage. "There's people who have dumped their bike, and those who haven't yet." Just like the motorcycle crash, the total disorientation on stage is something I hope to not experience again.

Maybe it was a little cosmic payback. The night before I tried a different approach on my line, "Don't mess with me now!" Rather than yelling I was threatening them, but still pretty loud. In notes afterwards I was trying to figure out why it didn't work very well. The stage managers and director thought it was much more scary and menacing, which is what we were looking for but the other actors said, "Oh you didn't yell as loud this time so we didn't have anything to react to." It was a little funny and frustrating to feel the audience was listening more closely than the other actors. Well, the disaster was a pointed reminder for me to deal with what I am getting and giving, not what I expect should happen.

I also learned a couple other things. If I should get lost again I should say something like, "Could you repeat that ma'am?" I will try to make thinking of recovery lines which are in character part of my prep for future roles. I've no idea why I got lost. Most likely my attention drifted, though that doesn't feel right. Someone may have messed up their cue, but that hasn't troubled me before, as I generally have no problem covering and improvising something to get back on track. I don't look for cues based on exact words, but by meaning. Whatever it was I will continue to analyze what what I did to myself so I can prevent doing it again.

This a great cast and fun to work with, and I trust them a lot. Even so, I think my brain freeze was catching. It wasn't that nobody wanted to help, rather they all felt caught in the headlights too. Maybe it's that stage presence I keep hearing I have. Having a strong presence is still a very bemusing notion to me, and until now I thought it was a great gift. If I can bring everyone else along with me when I get dazed it puts more responsibility on me. It is still a great gift, but there may be strings. I'd sure be curious to hear what directors, stage managers, crew, and other actors think.