Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I've Got Life

It has been stated before many times, but this show has hit at a such a heavy transitional period in so many people's lives. I didn't know my tribe before we started rehearsals and we have all witnessed so many changes in each other and each other's lives.

These last two weeks have been hard. I'm not going to speak much on them, but had it not been for my tribe and having this as an outlet four nights a week, I may have gone crazy.

And these weeks raised some more thought provoking questions about certain relationships in my life that were, today, answered. The fallout is over and closure has officially started, no matter how difficult it may be to accept right now.

Two weeks left of this show- I can hardly believe it. I feel like I've grown up and down with HAIR and with the Osage. In a self-centered fashion, I can really only focus on the changes that have happened inside me because of everything that has happened. I may have reached this state eventually, but without having the show being the focal point of so many weeks, who knows how long it would have taken? Performers give so much of themselves every show, night after night... it's amazing that the audience gives us back so much in return.

More later.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My Conviction

It's been a month since I've blogged here. I fail.

I am mainly doing this as a placeholder. I wish I could eloquently state my feelings on the show and life, but I honestly don't have the energy.

The show has been going great. Last night's performance, especially the end, was intense. Selfishly, I needed it more than the audience.

I'll write more when I'm not as drained. For now, I'm just going to say that, despite everything going on, I love the world. I love my family and my friends. I love my tribe. I love my life. And I love you all wherever you are in the world right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Come on, tune in, drop out

Now, I'm sure some of you out there are wondering what the uber-cool, quasi-retro quixotic hippie-actors of the Osage do in our non-rehearsal times. And whenever I figure out how to upload pictures and videos from my cell phone, the world shall know.

We walked into a plain black box Saturday morning. This evening, we left behind a nearly complete set and a veritable coloring book of peace-love-drugs-goodness outlined on the floor.

We open in eighteen days. We have EIGHTEEN DAYS to play on the set. Our little love-fest will continue it's evolution on Todd's beautiful playground and I am completely jazzed about this. We start running the show in it's entirety tomorrow night. Now that we are all (theoretically) off-book and know the show perfectly [sic], the real fun and games can begin. It seems we all have basic relationships already established within the tribe but it was occasionally hard to imagine our space as it's own little world. I challenge anyone to look at our set and NOT want to twirl around in circles (or play on the pole). I think being in the space (especially for so long) is really going to start bringing everything to life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Crying like a fire in the sun

You ever have just a small part of a song stuck in your head that no amount of other music will get rid of? Today, I woke up with the refrain "The vagabond is rapping at your door/ Is standing in the clothes that you once wore/Strike another match, go start anew/ And it's all over now, Baby Blue." It took me a minute to remember where I'd heard it recently.

It's such an amazing video on so many levels. You can see Dylan's weariness at being on the road for so long, his maybe-snarkiness at Donovan's sweet performance, and, especially, the way that he just transforms the room that he's in. It's a stretch to call Bob Dylan a singer, but he is, for all intents and purposes, one of the master storytellers of the twentieth century.

You feel bad for Donovan- he's a good singer/songwriter in his own right, but he's usually brushed off as Dylan-lite- the rough edges aren't there, the intonations and phrasing are traditional and predictable, but he's still good. I love the look on his face when he finally cracks a smile and has to admit that he is in the presence of a genius.

That got me thinking about this song. I've heard so many ideas of what it's about: it's a love affair, it's Dylan's FUCK YOU to the music world, it's blah blah blah blah... I think it's all of those, quite honestly, but I have always taken a different message from it.

Some people argue that it's about his departure from the "hippie" lifestyle, except this song was written 1964. I have always thought that he was using the metaphor of leaving a broken love affair to mean that he was leaving his current lifestyle.

"You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last/ But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast." This is an abandonment of the material things in your life, a call to hold on to what you truly believe you need to survive. "You better grab it fast-" do it now. Something greater is calling for you, a spiritual and emotional void has been gradually opening in your life and your greater purpose now is to find out why it's there and how to fill it.

"Yonder stands your orphan with his gun." This isn't a literal orphan, but, to me, that sense of displacement we all experience as we mature, where our parents are no longer the be-all and end-all of our consciousness. Even the more rebellious have to deal with it at some point. You stand there, feeling utterly alone and thinking that your family doesn't understand you, with "his gun-" the destruction that'll be wrecked if we don't break away from the suffocation of your current life.

"The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense/ Take what you have gathered from coincidence/ The empty handed painter from your streets/ Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets/ This sky, too, is folding under you"

How many times do parents warn their children to be careful in the outside world, to always stay out of danger? What is life without risk? Risking your life, disapproval, disappointment, and maybe even your heart? But, if you are trying to reach a, oh I don't know, higher of being, of truly knowing who you are, you have to take those risks. You learn from the outside, maybe from like-minded individuals, i.e. the Tribe.

Saying that the sky is folding under you sounds so ominous, like you're being sucked away, until you imagine what it would actually look like. The sky is folding under you... clearly, you're above the sky. You're walking in space, trying to find God. You're lighter than air and your body no longer tethers you to the ground- your spirit is flying free and always always searching.

"Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you"

Something more powerful than your comfy life is beckoning you to come find it. What is it? Sex? Love? Drugs? Enlightenment? All of it? How would you know unless you follow it?

"Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you"

How can you expect people who don't feel the same pulling away from home to understand? You can't. They won't understand why you're abandoning what you already have. At the same time, though, if you're not there to listen to their disapproval, you can hope to recapture some joy that you may have lost over the years. You can play with your new friends, experiment, but always, on some level, retaining some of those blissful qualities of a more innocent time in your life. "Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature" (Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker). You're surrounded by people who are also searching for something, whether that be meaning in life, a way to fix the world, or even just a drug-fueled fuck, you are all searching and you help each other on the way.

"Strike another match, go start a-new"

It's a cliche about how when you move away from home to go to college, you reinvent yourself. Still, a cliche is usually true- how can you truly find yourself unless you leave behind the comforts of the home you grew up in and see what sort of mettle you have in you? Growing up is all about reinvention... it's hard to do when you have someone looking over your shoulder all the time.

"It's all over now, Baby Blue."

And this is why my tribe name is Baby Blue.

"If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, acting lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that's perfectly valid— but don't go out trying to sell your beliefs to the system. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself."

Electronic Sonic Boom

Ugh, I'm in a terrible mood right now. Ever have one of those days when the second you step outside, everyone conspires to remind you that there are some real assholes hanging around? The worst was this jackass who was dogging my every step while I was running. Had his damn scooter out on the trails and wouldn't leave me alone. I finally got to the beginning of the trail, told him that he was a physically repulsive and mentally vile human being, and I went home. I was going to come back, work, and spend a few hours going over music, but dealing with that asshole simultaneously depressed and pissed me off.

You can argue that this goes both ways, but why should I or anyone else limit their sexuality? Why should I be afraid to go for a run near my house without having some fat greasy 60 year old ogling my chest? Sure, you can say it's their right to express what they feel, but why at my expense? I am fucking sick of it. It's ridiculous that unless I go out wearing baggy pants and a shapeless t-shirt , I'll have someone following me around the grocery store parking lot.

I'm not saying I hate being hit on. I just don't understand why these people think they have the right to be so disgusting about it. I remember a group of foreigners once videotaped me bartending, trying to get as many ass or tit shots as they could. So yeah, I'm thoroughly annoyed about it. I should just let this crap roll of my back, but I shouldn't even have to do that.

I am, naturally, a slightly stand-offish person, because I'm reeeeallly shy around people I don't know. The thing is with this show, is that I have never met a group of people like this that I've been so instantly comfortable around. On stage and off, I adore this cast. I am physically comfortable with them, I love getting a beer after rehearsal with them, and just being around them.

Is this the price for being free with one's body and sexuality? How can I, for a few hours a day, let myself go around a group of virtual strangers and then suddenly feel I have to close myself off to protect myself and my feelings the rest of the time?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And, yes, I'm aware that the Allman Brothers weren't big until 1970, but they WERE around by 1968 on a smaller scale, making my 1968 crush on Duane Allman completely justified. More later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stuck on teeny bopper island...

Wait, the term "teeny bopper" wasn't coined in the nineties? Fuck, I'd hate to see any show based off of the nineties teenagers.

Anyway, Scott said something incredibly interesting tonight about our characters (massive paraphrasing) :

"Some of you, like Sheila, are in this group to change the world. Some of you, like Berger, are here for sex and drugs."

On top of that, a few days ago, he reminded us that we had to pick out our tribe names. This is actually something I've been pondering deeply for the last week or so (which may turn into another post, if lucky).

This is such a strange show that, even in ensemble, I don't spend time trying to figure out how my character moves, talks, reacts, etc... I have just been letting things happen.

The very first idea I had came from when Scott said we would be prowling through the audience and lobby before the show started. I decided that I wanted to just lounge around in someone's lap, as a joke. Oddly enough, this is now turning into part of what I do. Every time we sit on the ground, I find the most available person and kind of melt into them. Double if they'll play with my hair (yay Marcie and Wayne!).

The other night, he blocked the Sheila/Berger fight, where he yells her. Everyone's reactions range from anger and disgust to indifference. I found myself, while on stage and HIGHLY uncharacteristically, leaning towards a feeling of, "Well, that happened." I am starting to pick up on that fact that I just don't understand that sort of, for lack of a better word, pushiness or anger that Sheila carries.

I hang out mostly with Marcie, it seems. Jeannie/Robin sarcastically refers to us as Teeny Bopper Island. It makes sense- much more laissez-faire and sweeter than I ordinarily play, which has been a fun little change.

To tie this back together, I decided that I'm in this group for enlightenment through sex and drugs. Sex is love, if done right and not selfishly, in this group's mind set, which is where some conflicts between characters arise. Orgasm is not the "little death," but the clarifier, a beautifully shared experience where only good vibes and positive karma can emerge. Drugs is mind expanding- the mundane is wholly fascinating and drenched in beauty. All of this leads, hopefully, to a deeper understanding of what life and love can be about.

Also, my crush of the late sixties:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Let today, the fifth of August, mark the day that Rachel Finally Gets Off Her Ass And Writes Something Meaningful Here.

So I was at the laundromat last week when I was approached by an elderly gentleman who was finishing up.

”Hey, you wanna hear a real short story?” His voice is quiet and the laundromat is noisy. I have to lean in pretty tight to hear what he’s saying.

”In the beginning, there was nothing. Until He came along. And he had all this stuff in his head that he wanted to make, so one day, he just started to make stuff. But when he was done, he sat back and realized that while he had made some beautiful things, it didn’t feel quite right. So he started to think about things that made him happy and then he made all of us. And when he sat back and saw all of us, it felt right and he began to jump for joy. So I think that if he jumps for joy every time he thinks of us, we should jump for joy every time we think of him.”

He pauses and smiles really wide and I can see that he doesn’t have any front teeth... it adds to the charm in his smile. “Because I’d be real sad if I met Him one day and He was sad that I didn’t jump for joy even once.”

The man started to walk away and then told me that the next time I saw my mother, I should jump for joy. I told him that I would. I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face for the next hour.

The way he told the story, I could tell that he carries it around in his pocket. He probably tells it once a day to some random person and I can only hope that they feel at least just a little lighter for it. This is what I thought of all day. And it’s probably what I’ll think of the next time we sing the show together. I’m not sure why, but it makes me feel lighter. Quite frankly, since then, I've felt lighter.

Jumping for joy... I've been teaching a theater class for little kids and I had them playing Big/Small today (where you show a small emotion and a big one, like Big Sad and Small Sad). When I told them Big Happy, their reactions were, as Mitch Hedberg would have put it, "so damn literal."

(And I just realized how amazing it is that I can type so much without ever getting to the damn point...)

That's one thing that's great about being ensemble here... my only character trait given is that I love black men. I keep thinking about what kind of person, in that time period, I would have wanted to be.

Lately at rehearsal, I find myself laughing and smiling, no matter what's going on, and it's like I'm never going to stop. I was initially brushing this off as being stressed out and that rehearsal was just my outlet, but I had the realization this weekend that I am actually so fucking happy right now. Sure, there are things in my life that I would change, but right now, I feel like I'm floating on air.

I noticed last night when we were playing with free form movement in "Aquarius" that no matter what I tried, I always had the urge to just throw my arms in the air and twirl around. I saw this with my kids this morning when I told them to be Big Happy- they were twirling around, arms up high, squealing, and (using the word correctly) quite literally jumping for joy. And this is what I feel like I want to do. I just feel so g.d. happy in rehearsal that I want to keep jumping and dancing and singing and not stop. Like ever.

The sad part of my laundromat story? These two kids dressed in expensive "hippie" clothes (like the ones you'd spend a minor fortune on at Sunshine Daydream) were also there doing laundry. They were right next to me when the man was telling his story. When he left the building, they started laughing and called him "a fucking freakshow."

What kind of hardness is that? Myself, I'm a very cynical person. He, in the way he talked to me, the way that he seemed to be able to read my sadness like a book, managed to pierce my hard little heart and made me genuinely smile for the first time in weeks.

I want to be that kind of person in this show. Fuck, I want to be that kind of person in real life too. I admire his courage in coming up to a total stranger, an angry looking young woman like myself, and risking dignity and disapproval to try to get a smile out of me.

I dunno. Maybe we should all be like that a little more.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rule number one is...

I decided that one of the best ways to get an idea of what the late 60's was like is to talk to people who were around then. With that in mind, I asked my uncle about those years yesterday.

"Damnit, girl, how old do you think I am?"

So I should really try to stick to the proper age demograph. Lesson learned.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

So yeah...

This is blog post number one.

I suck at introductions and am worse at conclusions, so a basic statement of that fact should be a good place to start.

Anyway, HAIR has been on my peripheral since I got into theater. Until my senior year of high school, the only things I really knew about that stage show was that it was about hippies, "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In" (thank you, Fifth Dimension), and that people got naked.


That's really not much to go on. And that's probably comparable to what most people know about the show.

I was given a copy of the original Broadway recording, listened to it over and over and over and over and really loved the music. I still had no clue what the hell was going on, but I knew that I really liked the music. I put the CD away for a few years and only got it out again when I heard New Line was holding auditions for it.

The difference a few years made was astounding.

I still didn't really know what was going on with the plot, but after six years of performing and learning, I was able to appreciate how complex the score was.

And it was the first time I realized that the song was not called "Let the Sunshine In."

This show is coming at very strange, hard, transitory period in my life, which I'm not going to get into right now. The very first time we sang the finale, even just in learning, I could feel myself tearing up. So everyone is going to have to pardon me for being a basket case for the next ten weeks or so.

This show... well, what do I want out of it? I want my singing voice back, that's for damn sure. I want to connect with the cast (I know only a few of them vaguely from seeing other shows at New Line) . I want to be able to look back and say that this show helped me get through this difficult period. I want the audience to look beyond the hippie -Aquarius/Sun Shine-nudity parts they think they know all about and see the message that's being presented, even if they don't quite agree.

I've been working on the music quite a bit and, oh holy hell, is there so much more of it than I remembered working on this last week and a half. But I love it, I really do. Though the irony of practicing "The Flesh Failures" while my roommate is playing a shoot-'em-up jungle game is not lost on me. Or him, for that matter.

Without really knowing why, I picked a random book off my shelf a few weeks ago. Another Roadside Attraction, by the king cat of hippie fiction lit himself, Mr. Tom Robbins. This will be my third time reading it and, if you've read any of his work, you'd know why he's appropriate to read alongside doing this show:

" 'I believe in birth, copulation, and death,' she answered. 'Although copulation embodies the other two, and death is only a form of borning. At any rate, I was born nineteen years ago. Someday I shall die. Today, I think I'll copulate.' "

Copulation- man, so much of it in this show. Not the act of, per se, but it's present in almost every song. Sex is such a natural part of our lives- when did it become so taboo or forbidden to talk about? And nudity. Oh yes, the part of the show where people get all kinds of nekkid.

I've done nudity on stage before, which friends have been bringing up to me, in the form of, "Well, that shouldn't really be a problem for you with this show." To be honest, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do. Hell, I probably won't know until we get on stage to do that scene.

I wonder how many people are going come to this expecting full-frontal decadence. Because showing our bodies can be so "wrong" in polite society, being naked is no longer natural. We come into this world naked. I look at my young nieces who are perfectly happy to run around the house in their underwear and wonder at what age modesty hits. When done right, nudity in live theater can be beautiful, uncomfortable, intimate, etc., etc. I found after doing it in one show that no matter how intense it feels to you onstage, it's nothing compared to what's going on with the audience. Imagine being drawn completely into a show and watching these people who have been baring their souls to you all night at their most vulnerable.

That being said, all I can promise is that I won't be naked the night my dad comes to see the show.

Wow, I really didn't mean to blab on about naked theater. But hey, it's the elephant in the room, the first thing anyone who knows anything about the show usually asks a cast member.

There's music, too. To go along with the naked.