Dawn got us free tickets to “Turning Corners,” an awesome dance performance at the Pamela Trokanski theater. Never before have I heard of a dance show about epiphanies, but I was totally psyched to see it.
Here’s the text written up for the event:
"Have you ever gone walking, turned a corner, and found a whole new view before you? In the same spirit, have you ever experienced or learned something that allowed you to see life from a totally new perspective? The PTDT invites you to join them in Turning Corners, a thoughtful, sometimes humerous/sometimes harrowing, look at how personal epiphanies and sudden shifts of perspective can allow us to see the world around us in startling new ways."
I’d also love to point something out from the program: 'I>"During the performance, we were planning to show a view of what dancer see while dancing, filmed with the aid of a body camera. However, after loking at the footage and getting tremendouslly nauseous, we thought a better choice was to show that footage in the lobby, before and after the show, so you can see what dancers see but also have ready access to the bathroom." For the record, I never saw this footage airing anywhere in the lobby, which was probably all for the best under the circumstances.
There were eight dancers in the show, from ages 9 to 87, and Pamela herself was in it, narrating most of the show in recorded voiceover. She did a lot of narration about turning corners--she used to live in New York City and noticed that you couldn’t just see down the street for a long way--you’d turn a corner and there’d be a new view. She also had an awesome group dance about driving (I ID’d that right away) in which she talked about how when she first learned to drive, she was terrified of doing left turns, so she’d come up with convoluted routes that went out of her way so she never had to turn right. (Note: a few days later I was taking a class in public speaking at work and mentioned this to the instructor and she was all, “Pamela?” She’s taken classes there.)
Everyone other than Pamela got at least one solo dance during the show, with their own voiceover narration about an epiphany they had of their own. Such as:
* The nine year old (who seriously is already good at age nine) did his about how he chose to become vegan. This kid is clearly hardcore.
* The eighty seven year old talked about hating communism in the 1950’s and having a revealing conversation with a professor in which he contrasted communism to Catholicism.
* One girl talked about going to an incredibly adventurous sounding summer camp where she tried all kinds of new things.
* Another girl’s epiphany can be summed up as “Oh, if I STUDY, THEN I can do well on the spelling tests!” (This cracked me up.)
* One woman said she was always brought up to be independent, so it was an adjustment for her to get married and start sharing her life.
* Another one thought feminist issues wasn’t an issue any more until she had a moment of sexism at a conference that made her realize otherwise..
* One was job hunting and having a hard time of it until she was listening to “Fight Song” on the radio and it gave her an epiphany.
* Possibly my favorite was the story of the woman who was going to dental hygenist school not because she was particularly into teeth, but because of the usual reasons like “stable well paying job.” However, she realized (I believe the school had some kind of vet tech schooling going on nearby) that she wanted to be a vet tech--except that blood grossed her out. She got over it and became a vet tech.
I really liked it. I think it’s a shame that dance performances are hard to remember after the fact, because this was awesome. I gave a rave review to Pamela afterwards, as well as the girl in the show that Dawn knew that got us tickets. I asked her how she got into this show and she said she was asked to join the company.
God, wouldn’t it be nice to be so good to be asked to join? I was feeling daydreamy for a second about wanting to dance again, except my body was always inadequate for that sort of thing.
Performance day! It went really well. I had fun. I didn’t get all the lines down the first time--there’s something about doing it live action with not much rehearsal ahead of time that was throwing me off--but I got them down in the second version of the scene with the second person, so there’s that.
I dressed up in a ton of nauseating pink girly (okay, nauseating to others, this is uh...how I sometimes dress) like I was out of the poodle skirt era a bit, and I started out one version of the scene knitting and the other one putting on lipstick. It was a lot of fun. I think of the character as putting on a lot of sugar--she’s trying to get along with/suck up to/be liked by Gloria at first but Gloria is just Not Having It and really, why should she be--this is probably the last time she’ll ever have to put up with having some dingbat 18-year-old around and why should she play nice? * As you can tell from what I typed up of the scene, they’re just starting to fight. I enjoyed playing the nauseating Southern sweetness that was morphing into fighting back. It was fun. I was also (in the script) supposed to go into the bathroom and come out with some unidentified items, so I tried to position the hair gel or whatever in my hand so it was looking like a bird flip. I’m not sure if anyone got that, but it amused me.
*As far as I’m concerned, not willing to play nice is uh... a lot of what is going on with Gloria. She gets progressively nastier in the play. I’m not saying she doesn’t have reasons, because she’s a black woman in 1968 dealing with Southern white people. But she is certainly unpleasant. I’m super glad I didn’t have to play the end of Barbara’s scene because hoo boy, does she get ugly in ways I wouldn’t want to have said to anyone’s face even if it’s acting.
After we all did our performances, he told us what was wrong with them.
* We’re supposed to do what he calls “slating” before doing a scene--say “My name is X, I will be playing Y in play Z.” You should be doing that at auditions and competitions. Slating is part of the audition. (I’ll be fair: he did tell us this stuff before starting and we did it. Just mentioning as a reminder to myself.)
* If you forget a line in rehearsal, stay in character and say “Line!” (Several people ended up doing this in scenes. The teacher was all, “Three quarters of the people in this room probably know your line” to all the Draculas and Renfields.)
* Try to face the audience, stay open to the audience.
* You should be coming into a scene that has already started.
* Energy, attack--what pulls us in.
* Something that clarifies the scene.
* Physicalizers--internal movements--underlying activity.
* Be careful of upstaging yourself--don’t place yourself so you can’t see things you need to see.
* Motivated bocking comes from beats, objective should look natural.
* Metamorphosis--character moves into you.
* Don’t throw in extra words.
* Staged kissing and/or fighting must look good to the audience.
* The victim of a stage slap (or whatever--we had some people getting roughed up on stage in Dracula) is always in control--they act out the abuse, not the abuser
* Make bold choices (like roughing people up on stage, apparently)
* Don’t move too much on a partner’s line.
* Trade off on your storytelling--save your bold choices for your line, not theirs.
* Do everything bigger, louder, faster, bolder.
* Don’t change the lines or the writer will sue.
* Never throw furniture toward the audience or sideways--throw upstage/towards the back.
Then he had us, no joke, redo our scenes BUUUUUUUUUUUT.... you were supposed to change your accent, or do it was a robot, or as a kid or a 90-year-old, or a cartoon...do it as crazy as you wanna be.
So my scene partners wanted to do it as a 90 year old woman and I did it as a kid...that was pretty freaking crazy. I pretended I was napping to start the scenes and when I came out of the bathroom, I pretended to open up the bottles and squirt the contents onto Gloria. FUN TIMES.
After that, we had to pick out what to do for our one page scene and do all the write-ups of scoring the script, writing out answers to questions, do a floor plan, etc. I stuck with one of my scene partners and we ended up picking out a page from “Father’s Day” by Oliver Hailey. This was a play I could not find anywhere to read (not without buying it, anyway) and apparently it was a one night fail on Broadway for some reason so there’s not much you can find out about it online or via college library at all. As far as I can tell, the plot is about three NYC divorcees who are throwing a party on Father’s Day when all their kids are off with their fathers. My scene was from the first half in which two of them are hanging around outside on the terrace before the party, I gather all the ex-husbands show up in the second act. I wanted to play Louise, who’s an ex-actress and dramatic and sassy and fun.* We actually got like three class days before having to do the scene, which I think is the longest we get in the schedule?
* Note: on the page before the one we did, at one point she yells a request to a piano playing neighbor: “I got a cat down here. My cat hates Chopin. How about a little Debussy for my pussy?” I think my scene partner would have about died if we’d done that page. She thought this play was pretty weird and I was all, “I’ve seen so much worse, heck, in this BOOK I’ve seen so much weirder.”
He did encourage us to edit a few lines out since our last line on the selected page carried over to the next one. He made a big deal about NOT retyping scenes--you can photocopy, cut it out, cross lines out, but don’t tamper. We were also told to just not say something instead of changing “fuck” to “fudge” (my scene partner does not do swearing, so she cut out the one “damm it.”)
Here’s what we ended up doing:
MARIAN: But Christopher's only seven. A child always stays with his mother.
LOUISE: Marian--you are so middle class.
MARIAN: Medea killed her children rather than let Jason take them. And what kind of class was she?
LOUISE: That kind of behavior shows no class at all.
MARIAN: How could Tom asks such a thing? It was cruel even to ask.
LOUISE: she suddenly laughs sharply. That's very funny.
MARIAN: What's funny?
LOUISE: Well...if you're going at it that literally, I'm not sure Chris is.
MARIAN: Not Tom's son?
LOUISE: Not sure.
MARIAN: Are you lying again? You lie a lot, you know.
LOUISE: All right, skip it.
MARIAN: Whose son is he?
LOUISE: I just said I'm not that sure. I was an actress, remember? And a very popular one--offstage. When I found I was with child, I decided on Tom. He knew it was going to be a seven-month baby. He assumed his seven-month baby. All those bad jokes about "only the mother knows for sure." Well, here's one mother who really doesn't have the foggiest. There were three very serious contenders.
MARIAN: I'm shocked, Louise.
LOUISE: Oh, you're not.
MARIAN: I know I'm not supposed to be, but I am. I was just saying to Estelle that nothing shocks today. Well, that's a lie! I'm shocked every day of my life! I don't know how much more my system can take! Why did you tell me? I don't want to know things like this!
LOUISE: All right, I'm sorry.
MARIAN: Who were the other two? Anyone I knew?
LOUISE: No one worth naming. After me they both went gay. The life of an actress is not that easy.
MARIAN: Well, if they became homosexuals, then Tom probably is the father.
October 31: I dressed up like Princess Leia (ceremonial dress at the end of Star Wars version). I was one of a whopping three people who dressed up in the office, but people seemed to like it. Then I went to the Craft Center for my shift and a lot more people were dressed up (my whole shift was) and we handed out candy and it was a very good time. I really should just hang out here every weeknight Halloween.
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