4 Days Until Showtime!

    It is 4 days before the curtain opens, and I am getting very excited (and nervous) about performing again. I have not performed solo since 2007. It feels like I am about to get back on the proverbial horse, but this time a lot more people are going to be watching. Jewish Girls Don’t Kayak won the Brickenden Award for Outstanding Comedy of 2007, but it went unseen by a lot of people when it debuted at the London Fringe Festival. So I suspect more people will be checking it out this time, to see what all the buzz is about.

    Last Thursday I went and saw Five O’Clock Bells at the McManus Studio, a one-man show about the life of jazz guitarist Lenny Brault. It was intriguing to see how another actor does a one-person show. Actor/playwright Pierre Brault performs seven different characters, including three women. He doesn’t rely on costume changes, opting instead to use his voice and physicality as a means of creating his various characters. And there are no props – just incredible lighting and sound. He doesn’t even play guitar on stage! But it all comes together seamlessly, thanks to great characterization, sharp writing and lightning-quick transitions. Eighty minutes straight of solid drama. I kept wondering – how does he have the stamina for this? My own show is going to be 1 hour and 30 minutes — without intermission — so I am really stretching myself as a performer. I am in awe of anyone who can project boundless energy onstage for a sustained amount of time.

    The next day, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Pierre, who also wrote the script. I asked him about the challenges of playing the opposite sex, since I play about 10 different male characters in my show, including my father and grandfather. Pierre gave me some pointers. “Remember, Robyn, men don’t have hips, so make sure you don’t sashay on stage!” Another tip: just study people. See how they talk, how they walk, how they hold themselves. On Sunday morning I had brunch at Symposium with my publicist/sherpa Liz, and we watched people go by on Richmond Street. I was on the lookout for guys, to see how they carried themselves. Most were Western students, walking with their girlfriends, one hand in their pocket, projecting lots of bravado. And then there was one older gentleman standing outside the cafe, with a cigarette in his mouth. He walked back and forth, looking lost in thought. Liz assumed he was ethnic, perhaps from Portugal, and from his countenance he seemed sad, almost wistful. What was he thinking about? Was he waiting for someone? Did he miss someone? What did he want out of life?

    I am still in the process of shaping my characters, so I get inspiration everywhere I go. On Sunday I was on the bus, eavesdropping on a conversation by a twenty-something male. He had a raspy voice, and was lamenting that he didn’t have a car. He was also reminiscing about his drunken Saturday night. I couldn’t help but think “Yeah, now I know how I’m going to play Travis!”

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