Friday, April 8, 2011

Emotions Immemorial

Tonight was opening night in Fairbanks. While there is still much work to accomplish for the rest of the tour, having this first show is such a relief, the culmination of so much work. It has been a long road to this night, which included the 360 miles of road from Anchorage.

Keep in mind, we've done this play before. We started writing it three years ago. It premiered , with us in the roles of Tulu and Miti, two years ago in Anchorage. An intense dramaturgical process through Native Voices at the Autry in San Diego last year. And performances in Homer and Palmer in February this year.

However, what I want to address tonight is the joy of continued discovery. You might think, after working on and performing a play a certain number of times, it might begin to get boring. But I can tell you that is far from the truth.

Tonight is a perfect example. In the scene Father and Daughter, a scene we've done plenty of times, rehearsed alot, 'cause of the meaty dialogue (props to Allison for writing such a brilliant scene), I discovered an entirely new aspect to my character and the scene. To give a short run down, this is a scene in which my daughter, Miti, works for a Native corporation. I, Tulu, an older gentleman, am the tribal president. Essentially, Miti is trying to convince me that oilfield development is good for our village. Tulu has a different opinion.

Previously, when we did this scene, I saw it as an intersting and fun intellectual battle between a father and daughter, and I get to be obstinate, which is always fun as an actor. But tonight, something hit me. The scene also reveals that Miti is soon to be married. I realized that I'm going to lose my daughter, not only to her corporate views, but to the rest of her life beyond me. And somewhere between the ice disappearing and my daughter disappearing, I become a very lonely father.

Acting challenge! Inupiaq gentlemen in their 50s or 60s are not known for being founts of emotion, especially tears. And yet, I felt real emotion about the scene. Another realization was about what strength and conviction it takes to be a leader, to always appear strong and in control, even if your heart is breaking.

Further acting challenge! How do you let the audience inside? How do you let them know what' is going on inside, but still have the vision of strength and conviction?

Writing challenge! I honestly can't explain it. It amazes me, still, how a character can really assert themselves onto you as an actor, to the point that you don't necessarily feel in control. But, you are not out of control, either. And what tremendous trust it takes to allow a character to have such a life within you. But also the trust the character must have to feel it truly is free within us to explore him or herself.

And, in the end, I marvel at how a story can have so many levels, that it never gets boring to perform.

There is so much more to talk about: After show conversations, all the work a tour requires, other aspects of the teatre life. But for now, I'm exhausted. Time to take a nice hot bath, see the cool videos I know Allison is uploading right now, and get a really good night sleep. Ten more shows, and lots of things to write about.

Come see the show, post a video, audio or written account of your experience with the play, and help us get the word out to others. Starving artist should just be a metaphor, not a reality. LOL

Thank you all for your support.

Tulu . . . I mean . . . Jack.

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