June 8, 2011

Fact #332: Play with me!

A few years ago I was in a production of Mr. Marmalade in Chicago. I played a little girl named Lucy, who has a somewhat strange imaginary friend named Mr. Marmalade. It was one of my favorite roles so far, and one of my favorite shows. And not just because I got to wear a tutu.

It was just an amazing challenge to get into a 4-year-old head space. To find it in my mind and body. It's easy to play youth or old age with exaggerated physicality, but to find the truth in the actions is harder. I did a lot of yoga during rehearsals and perfected my deep squat, a move you see kids do all the time but most adults wouldn't even attempt for fear of blowing out both their knees.

(I don't know this kid.)

One of my favorite parts of the show was a funny little ritual that developed between me and Marz Timms, the actor playing Mr. Marmalade. The set for the show was very simple, a series of oversize blocks that were moved around to suggest different furniture pieces. Every night before the house opened, I'd go onstage to warm up and stretch. I'd do my regular stretches, then I'd start playing around on the set, moving around on it like a kid would.

And Marz would always come play with me.

He'd chase me all around the set and I'd shriek and giggle and try to run away or crawl up on the blocks to safety.

I loved that game. It got the two of us in the same head space for the show. It connected us. And the best part was, I never said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we did our warm up together? Maybe you pretend to chase me, and I'll pretend to run away." It just happened. And it was so much fun!

Marz is a stand up comedian in Chicago, a super talented guy, and way cooler than me. He could just as easily have done his own warm up or rolled his eyes at my ridiculous antics. But he didn't. He got up and played with me. And I think that's super awesome.

I like playing.

See? I'm having so much fun!

Til tomorrow!


Phill said...

One of the best parts of my job is witnessing actors warming up. Be it vocal or physical. I thinks its cool to watch some one I know work on the transformation into their character.

Laurel said...

I totally agree! I think how an actor warms up reveals a lot about them.