Wednesday, February 09, 2011
My play "Leave" - Things That Make It Real
photo by George M. Calger
Seeing the set for my play for the first time always blows my mind.
This world inside my head that I scribbled down on paper suddenly gets extremely real. Even if, as with this play "Leave," the setting is more metaphorical than literal.
Same thing happens when people say the lines for the first time.
And when they start moving around saying the lines for the first time.
And when they set their scripts aside and slowly start assimilating all the lines into their brains and making the words seem like no one wrote them at all.
The director mentioned that an American flag would be painted over the platform that we'd been working on in rehearsal.
I was thinking, "Oh, a flag as part of some desert tableau or something."
No, not just the entire platform, but the entire floor of the playing space, is painted as one large, billowing, slightly tattered American flag.
It sort of hails you when you first walk in and see it, "This is America. This is what America does to its gay and lesbian military personnel. This is what happens in America."
And the platform, formerly just a basic 4 by 8 platform up on legs, is now covered, top and sides right down to the floor.
For certain scenes, in a certain light, it looks like a coffin.
With an American flag draped over it.
"Remember, it's not actually an American flag."
"Yeah, but we're still walking on it."
"I think it's not so much the walking on it, as the gay sex happening on it."
"I think the kind of people that might be offended by this, aren't going to be the people coming to see the show anyway."
"Well, it may deter audience members from stretching their legs out into the playing space."
"It just makes the play seem twice as edgy as it actually is."
Across the back wall are three evenly spaced white bolts of fabric that hang down from high above the audience, down to the floor.
The lighting designer occasionally hits two of them with red and blue light. Red, white, and blue.
The sound designer has taking traditional tunes like taps, and "America The Beautiful" and elongated them out into haunting, sometimes dissonant, compositions.
The two actor Marines have gotten their hair cut now.
"The haircut makes me walk differently. You don't see a lot of guys with this haircut walking around slumped forward with stooped shoulders. It's 'shoulders back, chest out, head held high.'"
The first time the actor playing the Marine's mother saw her acting partner, she looked like she might cry. Heck, I almost cried. "My boy's going off to boot camp. My boy's going off to war." It gives a strange new electric current of urgency to the scenes where she's trying to get him not to go, not to subject himself to "don't ask, don't tell," not to go back for another tour of duty.
We took pictures of Seth the Marine and Nicholas his civilian husband during rehearsals a week ago to help fill their photo album. That prop is used way too close to the audience not to be real. Now we have pictures of Seth with hair in a book, and a Seth with very little hair in reality.
When the stage manager took the pictures to get developed, the dear old lady at the photo counter told her, "You have very handsome sons."
(Who are very affectionate with each other. She either didn't look at the photos too closely, or felt it impolite to mention it.)
All the chairs are arranged on three sides of the playing space.
They just need an audience.
The world premiere of this newly expanded and updated version of "Leave," from Urbran Samurai Productions and yours truly, opens this Friday at the Sabes Jewish Community Center. You can find all the pertinent information you might need at urbansamurai.org