Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Comedy In The Orgy Scene: A Talk With In Tandem's Romantic Fools pt.1

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Tonight, In Tandem Theatre opens the final program of its ‘08/’09 season as it presents Romantic Fools--Rich Orloff’s series of romantic shorts. It's a light comedy looking at romance from a number of different angles. Ryan Schabach (who recently appeared in Next Act’s Ears On A Beatle) and Georgina McKee (originally from Madison) star in the show directed by In Tandem Co-Founder Jane Flieller. I had a chance to sit down and talk with them about the show a couple of weeks ago on the 17th . . .  her are some excerpts from the transcripts of that conversation:

INTRODUCTIONS

Me: [to Schabach] How long have you been in Milwaukee?

Ryan Schabach:
I did my grad work in Madison in 2000 – 2003 and then I’ve been traveling. I really want to make Milwaukee my artistic home. It’s not necessarily a tax home.

Laughter

Schabach: And if you call Madisonkind of like a satellite of Milwaukee—since 2000. So 9 years.

Me: [To McKee] And IS Madison a satellite of Milwaukee?

Laughter

Georgina McKee:
Somewhat.

Laughter

McKee: With the Madison Rep closing, there’s not really any professional theatre going on there. Hopefully that will change. I’ve been working in Madison for the last 8 months. Now I’m back in Milwaukee. I’m from Madison originally. Went to school on the West Coast. Lived out there. Worked out there for a while Came back. Lived in Chicago for a little bit, but Milwaukee hopefully is my artistic home AS WELL as my tax home.

Laughter

Jane Flieller: I’m supposed to be paying taxes?

Laughter


Me: [to McKee] So you’ve officially moved here?

McKee: Yes. Technically my husband and I moved here in September, but I have been working in Madison since September, so my mail has been coming to Milwaukee, but I have been physically in Madison, so it’s the life of an artist. I’ve been back in town since a couple of days before this show started rehearsal and I don’t plan on leaving for a while. So I now officially live in Milwaukee: mail, taxes, house, dog, husband—everything.

THE COMEDY

At some point, I asked the cast how many roles they actually played in the series of shorts—which turned out to be kind of a complicated question . . . here’s the ENDING of that explanation . . .

Ryan: . . . and then I step out in moments of Andrew stepping out and reflecting on or prepping the next scene . . .

Jane: You play Andrew, you play the blind date, you play . . .

Georgina: There’s probably about three vignettes that are strictly Laurie and Andrew throughout . . . so we each play about nine.

Me: I’m thinking there’s a couple of different extremes in how you handle something like this. The one extreme would be just to focus on the comedy and the delivery and making sure everything’s working from that angle . . . the other extreme would be to get into the personality of the characters and let the delivery and the comedy flow from that. Where are you guys in that?

Ryan: That’s a good question.

Jane: I’ll be fascinated to see what THEY think . . .

Laughter


Ryan: The rehearsal process is exactly what you’d said . . .so you definitely want to know what’s erupting underneath all the lines that you’re saying so that you have a basis on which to start putting clothes on the rack or muscle on the bone.

Jane: I don’t think there really is any script that you could just . . . I think any script requires some exploration into why you’re saying what you’re saying. What do you want? What’s in your way of getting it? What do you have to do?

Georgina: Sometimes it starts in the opposite order. What we’re doing physically feeds what we’re doing emotionally. Some of our scenes go in the opposite order, so each different vignette requires . . . you start on a different base with each one. SO the process takes a different direction.

Me: I guess in a sketch comedy approach, you’re focusing on what’s funny and then working your way back from there as opposed to . . .

Ryan: And the orgy scene lends well to what you’re talking about because the structure of it is [Abbot and Costello’s] Who’s On First?

Jane: Right, so where they came from isn’t as relevant. So they’re a couple and she wanted to try this and that’s really all you need because then the comedy has written itself.

In Tandem's ROMANTIC FOOLS opens tonight and runs through May 17th at the 10th Street Theatre. I'll have more from my talk with Jane, Ryan and Georgina tomorrow.

 

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