Monday, December 13, 2010
A Gift of Belonging
Last night I attended a performance of "The Blue Room" at the Moth Theater on Melrose. My brave and fearless friend Pamela Guest is appearing as "The Married Woman" in the piece. If you're not familiar, the story is a daisy chain on sexual relationships that link all 10 characters. The play itself is too long in my opinion. Especially if all the performances aren't on par. What hurt it for me was (as I found out after the fact) that this director, John Markland, doesn't like to block. He wants the performances to be "fresh" each night. Honey, don't ever leave blocking up to the actors. I know it's modern and supposedly "freeing" and meant to bring honesty to the performances. But this is a play that's visual cornerstones are the sexual tableaus. What's really cool about it is the use of filmed intimacies played against venetian blinds while the actual couples writhe in passion on a darkened stage. If these tableaus were choreographed to their best effect it would make a huge difference. Most of the actors chose to - for lack of better words - hide in the bed. Complete loss of impact that can't be made up for by taking off your pants. The other thing that bothered me was that I couldn't see their faces for much of the performance. Intense, intimate things are being shared and we're missing the expressions on their faces. It's a moody piece, I get it. But if your actors are free form blocking AND can't find their light...it's just voices in the dark. The stand out is Katherine Towne, daughter of Robert. I didn't know who she was until afterward but when she was on stage I couldn't look away.
I knew I was going to support my friend and witness her triumph. And that alone would have been enough but there was an unexpected dividend. A moment of of pure Hollywood magic. Not the Machine of Hollywood. But the true essence. What is that...to me anyway? In this little black box theater without any fanfare, sitting shoulder to shoulder with us were the Towne family and a few of Katherine's childhood friends you may have heard of; Jason Ritter and Simon Helberg. There to support. In the trenches of Hollywood we lose the camaraderie, the sense of joy for one another's efforts and triumphs. At least in my experience. At The Moth, we were all just show folk having an intimate, communal experience. We all clustered in the courtyard afterward laughing and congratulating and just joyfully communicating.
I rarely feel as if I 'belong' these days and last night was one of those times. So, thank you to my friend...not only for demonstrating her leap of faith so grandly but for making it possible for me to experience belonging.
P.S. John Ritter must be so proud of his son. What a lovely spirit he has. It shows on screen, through his eyes and more importantly, it shows in person. I'm glad I got to experience that too.