Thursday, May 14, 2015

Returning to the Stage in Orpheus Descending

Trying on my costume as "The Conjure Man"
for the first time. 
So recently, I was blessed enough to be cast in the biggest Theatre show in Japan of this year. A re-telling of Tennessee Williams’ (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)  story, Orpheus Descending

The producer/director (Phillip Breen) came in for the production from the UK, and while this isn’t my first time performing in theatre (it’s my third), this show has offered me my first opportunity to work closely with an English speaking director. In the states I had the opportunity to work a range of productions as well, (Detroit 187, Batman vs. Superman, SeTup, etc), but I was certainly never one of the main cast, and as such, I had never had the opportunity to see what it was like to be directed by someone who spoke my own language before. 

Thus far, it has been an amazing experience. In the story I play a “conjure man”, a toothless, mumbling character who in the end, proves that he is smarter than everyone thinks he is. We had a solid month of rehearsals leading up to the opening night, and while that was hard to handle with the responsibilities of becoming a new father and doing the pre-production and principle photography for Fists of Absinthe at the same time, it was an amazing experience. 

 Phillip’s depth of character exploration, history, and philosophy of the play has been staggering, and in working with him I really came to realize at heart something that I knew in my head for a long time- when an actor gives an amazing performance, the credit is not just his or hers alone; it belongs to the director as well. An amazing actor can make a decent director look pretty good… and a great director can make an okay actor perform well… but when you have an amazing actor working with an amazing director, that is when you really truly see magic happen. The main actress in the play, Shinobu Otake is an excellent actress in her own right, (she does the Japanese voices for Disney movies among other things) but seeing how she performs under Phillip's direction has been breath-taking. 

In my own experience as well, I don’t think I could have understood and personified this character half as well if it had not been for the insights into his meaning that Phillip shared and helped me to develop. That goes without saying for the rest of the cast as well, and the fact that we have received a standing ovation for virtually every show so far is a testament to that. 

Just about the only downside of the whole experience is the fact that I got my first ever vocal injury in rehearsals (due to the fact that my character screams at the top of his lungs a lot). At the same time however, that injury prompted me to take my first steps towards proper vocal training (knowing how to warm up and strengthen your vocal cords with daily exercises, produce sound from the diaphragm to lessen stress, etc.) so at the end of the day, I see the injury as a positive learning experience. Live and learn.  


I’ve also started to get greeted by fans after the show and asked for my autograph. Not the first time I have ever signed autographs, but it certainly is the first time people have lined up to ask me for them. Crazy feeling. Looking forward to seeing how things develop for the rest of the show’s run. 

4 comments:

Brooke Higgins said...

Congratulations for being cast in biggest theater show in Japan. I love to watch theater infact every body who have artistic taste love theater. luton airport meet and greet

Ruth George said...

An amazing actor can make a decent director look pretty good… and a great director can make an okay actor perform well… but when you have an amazing actor working with an amazing director, that is when you really truly see magic happen.Meet and greet parking Luton

Ethan Bryan said...

That is amazing for him to get cast as a director in this program. I really like to watch the performance of the director.valet parking luton airport

Patricia Carter said...

look like it going to be an amazing show.... The cast is wonderful... sports tickets