Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day Three

There are three great ghost stories in the English language: Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, and The Turn of the Screw. By default, that makes Screw the greatest American ghost story, the other two, obviously, being British. Even though James lived in Britain, wrote like a Brit, in general wanted to be a Brit, he was in fact American. And he wasn’t that well looked upon by his contemporaries. James was a wordy guy. Oscar Wilde said that he wrote as if it was a tedious duty.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever read James’ novella, but it’s tedious to read, as well. However, the story is amazing. Yes, he liked to express every little thing with as many words possible. But he created characters and a story that grabs you, throttles you, and leaves you unsettled.
This is the genius of this play, and of Jeffrey Hatcher. He has retained an extremely dense, passionate story, and developed such thick, layered characters from James’ original, that he makes this script stand on its own. One need know nothing about the novella to be fully enthralled with Hatcher’s treatment. Just goes to show, a great story and strong characters are everlasting. Why do you think Shakespeare’s been done in every style under the sun?

Tonight we finished blocking and had a rough blocking run. The show looks good. I’ve never been one to draw out the blocking process. Get it done, so you plenty of time to work on the harder stuff. Isn’t it funny anytime you mention you’re an actor to someone, the first thing they ask is “How do you remember all those lines?”, or “How do you know where you’re supposed to move?”, or, as one dubious fellow said to me once, “How do you mesmerize all those lines?”?
Yes, these are legitimate, valid questions. Except the last one. “I slowly work them into a trance, then I bob my head…”. But we all know this is the easy stuff. I realized tonight the brilliance of Hatcher breaking this show down to its essence. With no set, no costumes, and no props, it almost opens up huge amount of freedom. It took me a couple days looking at it, but tonight, I thought “We can do whatever we want. The fact we have nothing is no way a hindrance. It’s a blessing”.
Now, it’s no secret from my blatherings that this show has always been about story and character. Story and character. Story and character. Get used to it. You’ll be hearing it a lot.
I digress. I was particular hit with the idea of dimensions. I can work in dimensions, with no barrier. Not just three, either. 4, 5, 10. How many do you want? Now. Can an audience’s imagination handle a 10-D play? I guess we’ll find out…

Great day today.
In short: Blocking done
Strong story
Strong actors
Each of the two previous three more times

That’s all for now.

Thanks for reading my blog.


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