So we three -- Paula (playing Eleanor), Carolyn (directing), and me -- did the dastardly deed of entering the live stream and betraying our beloved theater.
Truly, I loved it.
I loved performing with Paula, whose recorded voice I've been performing with since 2014. The reality of the relationship between Hick and Eleanor was so much more intense with a really strong actress reading the letters live, rather than on tape.
Unfortunately, I still didn't get a chance to actually LOOK at Paula, because we were using Streamyard and not Zoom, because that's what EXIT Theatre uses. In Streamyard, you get a REVERSE mirror of what you're doing. That is, if I lift my right hand, I appear to be lifting my left hand. So in order to appear to be looking in Eleanor's direction, I had to LOOK AWAY FROM her.
There was a brief moment, when we're getting excited about seeing each other for Christmas and we're both looking straight ahead. So I did catch a glimpse of her then. But even then, we're NOT supposed to be looking at each other but at the CAMERA, which is ABOVE our images on the screen. If I had looked at Paula's screen, I would have appeared to be looking down.
During rehearsal, I thought I would never get used to the reverse mirror, which feels like the equivalent to driving on the left side of the road, if you've ever done that in Great Britain or South Africa. I was always having to make minute adjustments to stay in the little box of screen. I'd see my image and think, "A little to the right please" and move toward my right and discover I needed to move to my LEFT to APPEAR more to the right.
Eventually I DID get used to the reverse mirror and started naturally reversing my movements. I was pretty proud of myself. Eric and I never DID get used to the left side of the road in 2013 in South Africa. We'd be trundling along and suddenly there would be a car screaming toward us in the same lane. We were incredibly stupid to even try a 3-week driving trip and incredibly lucky we survived intact.
But I digress.
Paula was absolutely wonderful as Eleanor -- elegant and strong and Eleanory and oh so in love with Hick. And, even though I couldn't see her, it was great to be performing live with her voice. My friend, Revital, who I believe is the premier HICKhead, having seen it countless times in workshops, readings, theaters and now live stream, says that this one is not to be missed.
And I would certainly have watched the video MYSELF by now, if it was only Paula onscreen. But I'm putting it off. I was putting off the blog until I watched the live stream. And putting off the live stream because... well, nobody likes seeing themselves on video. I mean, even when I was YOUNG I didn't like seeing myself on video. So I thought I'd just do the blog first.
Carolyn was directing a live stream performance for the first time. She had to make decisions in a totally new medium, not knowing what worked and what didn't. And it ALL WORKED! Everyone who saw the performance understood what was going on and the different image sizes of me and Paula seemed to make sense and seemed to flow. That's an astonishing accomplishment. Again, I haven't seen the video, but that's what everyone says. As always I benefited greatly from her direction as an actor. I love following orders. They just have to be the right orders.
And how about those set changes! There are three scenes: Scene One 1968, Scene Two 1930s, and Scene Three 1968:
Guess who did the set changes! Moi! Who else is gonna be there in my flat in the middle of a pandemic? Ideally, actors should not have technical tasks other than picking up their props and changing their costumes. Their focus is simply not on arranging their environment precisely. And, as you can see, I was not precise. In the first scene, the corner of the set for the second scene is visible. Oopsie! And in the second scene, the set is supposed to fill the whole background -- no black should be visible. Oopsie again!
I also had to change my costume during the same interval as the set change. The interval was as long as one of Eleanor's long letters. In live theater, one would have help with these things and one would also have a technician in the booth who could use her judgment about whether things were in place and the lights could be brought up. She might even be getting an actual go-ahead over a headset from someone backstage.
However, Amanda, our wonderful technician, was in Grass Valley and had no idea when everything was ready. I lived in fear of being late getting into my seat for the third scene, because then people would see that I had very sloppily safety-pinned up the hem of my dressing gown, because in an early rehearsal I had stepped on the hem and just gone DOWN. (This was extremely amusing to Carolyn and me. We spend quite a bit of time laughing at ourselves.)
Of course, I COULD have nicely hemmed the dressing gown, which would have HAD to have happened if the play was in a theater. But I decided to live in fear instead.
In terms of lighting and make-up, you can see in the photo at the top that Paula looks much clearer and more like a real person than I do. I'm not sure how that happened.
In terms of acting, for me it was like learning a new language. I explored what Hick feels and does in a more intimate way. By the end of the play, I felt some sense of mastery of this new language, which was exciting. For me, mastery has nothing to do with perfection. It's all about feeling comfortable enough to explore more deeply. I look forward to my next live stream performance.
AND we have a very nice video of the live stream which you can watch and also forward to your friends!
Okay, Bloggelinis, I'm preparing myself to enter the maelstrom that is our current world. Biden is turning out to be a mixed bag, of course. I'm furious that he's letting MBS, the Saudi Prince, get away with murder without so much as a reprimand. But I'm thrilled that he called the Texas and Mississippi governors "Neanderthals" for getting rid of the mask mandate -- although it IS very insulting to Neanderthals, who were probably very nice people. Terry