02 July, 2011

Ask Al: Revisiting a Role

Sophie on Broadway
 Dear Al,

Sophie at The Kennedy Center
You originated the role of Sophie De Palma for this production at the Kennedy Center, what were some of the challenges you faced with the transfer to Broadway and the recasting the roles of Sharon and Tony?

*  * *

To use a term that Tyne coined, "erasing old tapes".

Carousel "1.0" in London
Carousel "2.0" in LA
The most difficult part of returning to a role or production you have done before (and I have actually done it before when we transferred The Sheffield Crucible production of Fiddler on the Roof to the West End in 2007/8, as well as doing a completely different production of Carousel at the Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles 6 months after playing Julie Jordan for a year in the West End), is having to treat the new, present situation as just that. Sophie De Palma doesn't know that we did this production at The Kennedy Center; for "her" this, right now, is the only real existence, the only truth. She wants and needs things rightthissecond and cannot be bogged down by the things Al "used to love in DC" or "used to feel when we did this section of text."

It isn't easy. And frankly, it should not be easy, because one hopes that every choice you make is a part of you, part of your Self, so that redrafting any of the work feels like ripping skin.
But it is necessary.
It is part of the ephemeral nature of the theatre.
There is only now.
Now is all we have.
... I suppose that is a pretty accurate description of life too.

If you can serve your character's needs, and not your own, you won't ever be bogged down by what "you" used to do-- because for "THEY" have never done this before. And this is not about you. This is about the character's story being told.

"It's okay Tony!"
As for recasting Tony & Sharon? I had a wonderful relationship with our previous Tony and Sharon, and I'm happy for them that they are so talented and busy!

As for Garret and Sierra? They are both incredibly gifted people and we all are in love with each other. The whole cast is. (In fact, Garret, Sierra and I often hang out together in-between shows on two show days and have what we call a "Student Council Meeting." Sophie, I am sure you would be pleased to know, is Student Council President. Tony serves as Treasurer. Sharon is clearly secretary-- she always has a pencil...)

1 comment:

  1. I suppose that even within a one-year run, the challenge is to be present with your performance and what it needs now 6 months into your contract, as opposed to 1 month in. So much happens to us within a short amount of time, and finding the truth of 'now' within the original direction seems both interesting and exciting to me. I hope I can one day go through that challenge... I had a taste of it in a recent 8-week rehearsal process (whoa, right?!)



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