Hello, Riverdogs! Hope all is well in your igloos! Here’s what’s been on my mind this week.
Some may describe it as kismet, others fate; a few characters in Apartment 3A might go so far as to call it a “miracle.” I prefer to call it CONTROLLING THE WORLD WITH MY MIND. No matter which word you use, a certain thing happens to the universe of an actor about the time her rehearsals commence.
When you’re about to enter the “world” of a particular play, weirdly congruous things start happening in the real world. Maybe a song that’s mentioned in the stage directions will be on the radio when you turn on your car, or maybe the classic movie channel will decide to air a weekend of flicks all set in the same time period as the script you’re diving into. In this particular case, shortly before rehearsals started, I was going about my Sunday-in-Winter ritual:
1) Dig out the Sunday Times from its landing spot in the snowy yard.
2) Remove paper from wet and/or frozen bag.
3) Arrange sections in order of interest to me-- Arts and Leisure, Magazine,
Books, Travel, Style, Week-in-Review.
4) Line the cat box with the rest.
There, above the fold of what is my front page, was the headline: IS PBS STILL NECESSARY?
I couldn’t believe it! Annie, my character, is a fundraiser for PBS. She considers herself one of the few remaining true believers in the power of public television, even though, at the top of the show, her faith in the network (and every other aspect of her life) is slipping. Freaky, huh?
This article goes on to report that every year of his presidency, the Bush administration has threatened to cut PBS’s government subsidy by half, thus forcing PBS to petition like crazy, and putting the livelihoods of their affiliates (and thus, their employees, like Annie) in jeopardy every twelve months. The article adds that, as if that fiscal pressure weren’t enough, PBS now has 400 cable channels to compete with, as seen in Apartment 3A, where Dal, the super (played by Riverside veteran Jason Grubbe), refuses to click over to Annie’s Public TV station due to his obsession with the Disney Channel.
Well, PBS might not be necessary anymore, but weird moments like this are, at least for me. The play takes place in a Midwestern town during Lent, and so I now have an immediate sense memory that Annie can use—trudging through the late-winter slush in my pajamas and snow boots, opening a newspaper in my empty apartment and feeling Annie’s lonely, private outrage upon realizing that something she believes in is once again in peril. I can feel her anger as she reads that even the more widely-viewed PBS programs get less of the Nielsen share than “Friday Night Smackdown.” Grrrr. Well, bad news for PBS, good news for my process!
But enough “An Actor Prepares” mumbo-jumbo. I’ll write more in a few days about how we’ve spent the first few rehearsals (five words: sex scene in a church). For today, the only preparing this actor is going to do is choosing an outfit for tonight’s Walking the Wire opening. I hope to see all of you there.