No one in my real life has seen me much lately because I’ve been madly rehearsing for the play I’m in, “Hey, Sailor!” Last week we moved from our rehearsal venue to the actual theater. It was, frankly, terrifying!
The rehearsal space, Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, had been warm and fuzzy for me, since I’ve worked there previously on other performance projects, back when it was the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts. It was the perfect artistic incubator: a just-right-sized, cozy room with black floors and walls.
By contrast, the theater (a) is new and unfamiliar, (b) serves as crash space for several visiting artists whose living spaces somewhat overlap our rehearsal area, and (c) is full of terrifying looking robots, built by its owner and used in his own performance work, with many sharp edges and automated moving parts. And most importantly (d) it’s an indication that we are not just goofing around with beautiful text and enjoying the playful energy of acting like characters, but that we’re working toward an actual production!
with actual audience members!
who pay money for a good show!
and who will be sitting excited and expectant in all those empty seats!
(Fill the seats: Buy yer tickets now. We have nine shows, 8pm Thurs/Fri/Sat, starting September 18.)
So I got terrified, had my mini-freakout, wept in and out of rehearsal, received and accepted fabulous support from my fellow actors and genius director, and am now better adjusted. It also helps to have a couple of days off to do my laundry, catch up on the rest of life, keep memorizing my lines, and get excited about going back into rehearsal Wednesday night. At least that was the plan, but now I have a sore throat which makes it hard to talk let alone run lines… along with flu-type symptoms, grrr … so I’m trying to rest up, take Tylenol every six hours, and drink lots of miso soup and ginger-honey-lemon tea.
Meanwhile I love love love my character, Squeak, and am working toward the right balance in her of vulnerability and street toughness, naivete and manipulation, humor and anger. With each rehearsal I learn something about her, and also, in some mysterious way, about myself — the ways that I am like and unlike her.
And I’m appreciating how cool the theater really is. It started life as an illegal liquor hall and brothel during Prohibition, went through phases as a speakeasy and a machine shop, and is now a performance space, mostly for robot shows. It’s located downtown (550 Natoma near 7th & Mission) and is called Omnicircus. The link is worth checking out because it includes the robots, who all have names and personalities and are created & choreographed by artist/owner Frank Garvey.
The space couldn’t be more perfect for our show. It gives us an amazingly textured, gritty, industrial-urban backdrop without having to engage a set designer. And the centerpiece of the stage just happens to be a giant whale skull, which is just crazily spot-on since “Hey, Sailor!” is inspired by the novel Billy Budd by Herman Melville, who is better known for his whale epic Moby Dick. Wild!
I may not blog again until after the show opens. See you there!
PS: A note on access: Most of the seats are balcony-style, up a short flight of stairs. Floor seating is available for those who use wheelchairs or do not climb stairs. The restroom is not wheelchair accessible.