original entry July 24, 2014
It’s been a long road.
For over 23 years, not to mention all our own separate journeys towards each other, we have been working and struggling together thru good times and difficult ones, to make meaningful work as a COMPANY. So I think, “we have earned this!” And still- it is good to remember and be aware of the cost and those who have shared it.”
That is partly what I think about these mornings as we drive down beautiful Pacific Coast Highway towards the shinning hill that we are lucky to call home for these weeks. HOME for years has been a theatre, a studio, a rehearsal hall, a green room to sit in drinking coffee while we strap on tabi, knee braces, SITI T-shirts and the training gear we are most comfortable in. And we have several homes, Actors Theatre of Louisville, our studio and office, The Wexner Center, BAM but this place, these people are different and special. How lucky we are I think as Bondo, Ellen and I drive up the gorgeous coast, hitting just a bit of traffic in Venice and again in Pacific Palisades.
We talk about yesterday’s rehearsal and what today might bring, someone complains about being in the wrong lane and the driver will ignore them- because we are so HAPPY to be here.
We turn onto Sunset and then left on Los Liones, stop at the security gate to say hello and show our badges and then park; unload bags and bags, training gear, scripts, lunch, sweaters for the cooler late afternoons, reference books Anne had shipped out and we are studying in allll our free time- which we have little of already but the books are worth the time we find.
We tumble into our home, our dressing room, a bit messier day by day, we gossip and chat as if we have not seen each other for days as we gear up and then walk up the back stairs to stretch and prepare for the new day’s journey.
People hunch over scripts as they stretch memorizing text in English and well as the ancient Greek the wonderful Shelby Brown is teaching us, songs by Victor Zupanc, a new friend but separated by 6 degrees or less from other members of our extended family. Then we start training. I lead today, which is why I am writing this journal entry, as Ellen led training yesterday. We work on Basic 1, 2 with text from PERSIANS, shaky these words and breath is HARD. We do Stomping and Shakuhashi, starting again in a circle and speaking the first 4 verses of PERSIAN as we rise. We end with Basic 6 modified to have the STOPS/Gestures incorporate some iconic, base relief poses. This is becoming part of our daily routine, the ZAR of this show. Viewpoints incorporate more text and perhaps the beginnings of an opening based on images Anne gleams from our improvisations. This show seems to be about circles and rituals and abrupt sudden movements and stops. Anne sees an image she asks us to repeats… and of course it is HARD, we enter, following Eric jumping and moving forwards with abrupt arm gestures. It continues until I am about to drop and then thankfully I hear a HOLD!… thank you.
A short break, more coffee and then our collaborator Shelby join us, we work on the Greek and the correct pronunciation of the names and other fascinating issues- There curators are so amazing here, such wonderful collaborators. Ken Lapatin came to see us on our arrival the first day before rushing off to Greece, Mary Hart will give us a guided tour of the HEAVEN AND EARTH exhibit of Byzantium Art currently on display but for the PERSIANS Shelby and Ralph Flores are our daily collaborators, they, Anna, Laurel and the whole staff made us feel so welcomed and honored. It is a great collaborative team that includes Victor, our SM Ellen Mezzera, Anne’s assistant Sara, Claire and so many others…we are so lucky.
After our too short time with Shelby I run to a costume fitting with Nephelie while the rest of the cast sings with Victor. I join them in time to work on the last of the three original songs we are learning.
After our break to continue with table work and dive DEEP in a discussion of the beginning of the play and Anne’s initial idea of a opening procession, an attempt to examine the Origins of Theatre, the shift from Dithyrambic songs praising Dionysus to what we might consider Tragedy. It is a long and serious discussion, with many SITI opinions and digressions. We talk about the audience, the set pieces/props Brian is designing, a possible procession that incorporates part of the aud. Basically we consider and reconsider how to begin. Anne is deeply concentrated, as are we all, listening and open to everyone’s ideas and opinions. It is a loooong discussion and then suddenly the day….. is over.
Where it went and how it got there is actually hard to remember, to actually depict ….because so much happened today- as it does everyday here in our home for the next 9 weeks. How lucky we are.
We quickly go over the schedule for the next day, straggle back to the still messier green room, dress, walk up and out of the now empty museum. Ellen, Bondo and I pause to look at the shadows creeping across the magnificent outdoor stage we will perform on (how lucky we are) then we walk to our car and drive home a bit more quietly then we came here.
It seems a longer road home, what with traffic and exhausted brains. but we have earned this quiet ride back today.
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” – Friedrich Nietzche