Sunday, May 21, 2006

Time Flys Like An Arrow...

Fruit flys like a banana.

What is it about time?

In the theatre, time reveals itself at its most elastic, most malleable, most unpredictable. Two weeks can go by in a heartbeat. Two seconds can seem like an eternity. Anyone who has spent any time onstage during one of those agonizing moments when either you or your fellow player has "gone up" and silence descends on the scene like the blade of a guillotine knows that time is a killer. Time is a cruel mistress in the theatre. Catch the wave, sense the right timing and she's your ally. Miss the moment, falter in the flow of your character's thoughts and like an angry Shiva, she can destroy. And nothing exposes the power of timing like live theatre.

Two weeks of rehearsal on our puppet infused version of The Merry Wives of Windsor have flown by like a flock of canaries pressed against the windshield of a bullet train. Two elements stand out to me in the haze of recollection: Laughter & Pain. Laughter because the cast Sean Daniels has assembled is with out a doubt on of the funniest and most intelligent I've had the pleasure of working with. And the puppets themselves summon a kind of lunatic child out of each of us. Its as if the hardship of sore muscles and awkward positions has brought a kind of comic fuel that each of the performers is feeding off and converting it directly into what our director calls The Funny. I've seen this phenomenon before. Acting companies invariably find an equilibrium between the rigors of the hard work and the release of the tension thru laughter. And every one of these performers has at one time or another completely cracked all of us up. Whether it be in one of Sean's revealing Character Interview exercises or exploring the super-human abilities of these puppets onstage and off, the time that has passed almost unnoticed since my last posting has been chock full of The Funny. It is as if the Pain quotient has a direct link to the fun part. Who was it who said Comedy is Tragedy plus Time? And time certainly has been on our side. And now we're on the brink of moving from the comparative safety of the rehearsal hall to the sacrificial alter of the Bruns stage. As the countdown to opening night begins, we all wonder in our heart of hearts whether we can master this deceptively tricky play in the time allotted. Only time will tell.
As David Bowie said:
Time is waiting in the wings,
It speaks of senseless things,
Its trick is you and me.

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