Fifth day in LA. It’s still gorgeous outside.
Date: April 30, 2014
Days Spent on Project: 437
Location: West Hollywood, CA
Person I would have sent it to: Hugh R., “Coffee Shop Boy.”
When I moved to Brooklyn in the fall of 2006, I was more focused on getting work and doing work than going out. But, somehow, I managed to get asked out on a date pretty quickly.
Did I ask Hugh out? Did he ask me? I can’t remember the details that lead up to it, but I took him to the Risotteria on Bleeker. (It seemed like a safe choice; he was vegan (maybe?) or had a gluten-allergy or something and I do remember texting my friend Alison to help me find a place. Having lived in NYC 2 years longer than I had, she was my expert at the time.) After dinner, I’m not sure much happened, or if there was interest. We parted ways.
But, months later that Spring, we ran into each other on a subway platform in Brooklyn. We made plans for coffee at Gorilla Cafe in Park Slope. When I met him, he hugged me and said, “You look so different. Very New York!”
I could have died.
Music I listened to while sewing: With headphones on, I’m listening to dance music this morning. Nothing noteworthy at all.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: So, apparently I’m a big softie and I didn’t even know it.
Last night, in the workshop, we spent an hour listening to some music I’ve assembled into a playlist as I wrote much of the story that we’re working from. And then we went through a book of images that I’ve collected over the past year. We followed that with a discussion on things that resonated with the actors, characters that intrigued them, and plot lines they wanted to explore.
And I may have almost cried at the end of it.
I’ve been talking about writing this piece for a year. I sat down in a Starbucks on the Upper West Side last June with an ancient iPad and started typing everything down. Somehow that turned into a timeline of events, which turned into a series of characters and names, which got redirected into satellite characters and events, and so on.
How weird and amazing to hear the words read aloud by a group of strangers, and then have them embrace what they read and talk about it constructively.
We started getting the actors on the feet, trying to work through some of the bigger scenes. Just with the three hours of discussion, quick rehearsal, and watching some scenes, I learned so much about what we’re trying to do.
I learned some spaces want to tell a story. Architecture can have its own drama, and I started to see how some spaces/areas can be helpful in a dramatic structure while others are a little too ambiguous without help on a designer’s end. I learned I am, in the end, with undergraduate acting students and dancers; while they’re eager and excited, there’s still a need to lead them along right now. Some of them remain in a head-space, and talk about things rather than make the commitment to “try and show.” I learned how important it is and would be to get the feeling of an ensemble within that group from day one with everyone- actors, dancers, designers, etc.
I learned to ignore the worry that this would look weird from the outside. I never had that fear last night; in fact, it was easy to engage the actors I’m working with and get them to trust.
My goal today and tomorrow is to focus the work- physically and textually- on making them perform in a more everyday quality. It reads “showy” and “performative” at this point. My goal is to make it more about playing actions instead of ideas. We need to wrap our heads around being clear with our movement to tell the story, being specific, and real.
I learned so much last night. And I can’t wait to keep learning tonight.
But, coffee first.
And I miss my dog.