Monday, Feb. 4, 2008

This Is All, Of Course, Completely Trivial: Scattered Thoughts

By Russ Bickerstaff
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REMEMBER: IT’S AN OPENING NIGHT—NOT A PRESS JUNKET

It’s always an interesting crowd at the opening night of a Milwaukee Shakespeare show. Opening night of Twelfth Night was no exception, though it was taking place far from the heart of the theatre district. The Wilson Center was swimming in actors—more so than normally attend the average opening-night performance. During intermission, my wife and I were in line for concessions near a pair of actresses—one had recently been in The Show that opened The Alchemist Theatre. The other was set to show-up in The Girl In The Frame with In Tandem at the end of the season. (The title character, perhaps.) The tendency in that sort of situation is to want to talk with the talent about upcoming projects. My feeling is that this would probably be a faux pas—these actresses were here to see a show they were not in. They're not working at the moment and so they probably don't want to discuss work. The distinction here being that, as a critic, I am at work at those moments. Intermission'a sort of like a coffee break for me. Approaching actresses to talk to them about work during intermission would be a bit uncomfortable, considering we’re all really just there to get something to sip on between Acts: Just smile and say hello, Russ. Refrain from asking Ms. Forbes about The Girl In The Frame, get your Dutch lager and move along . . . and then the lights flash. The line was long. Ms. Forbes opts out of a drink. I chug an entire plastic cup of Heineken on the way back in to the theatre. My wife is too refined to be impressed by such an act. I’m too mature to find the sudden rush of alcohol entirely pleasant. We are both far too adult to mention anything further about the ill-fated trip to the concessions line . . .

YOU MUST BE AT LEAST THIS TALL TO GRADUATE FROM THE UWM ACTING PROGRAM


There was a party after opening night. There always is. It's fun: It's slightly more appropriate to discuss work there. There we were in a reasonably decadent kitchen that was a relatively short, steep trek away from Lake Michigan. Everyone was in the kitchen. (It was that kind of party.) UWM graduate Darrel Cherney (the guy who played Valentine) was working a reluctant keg, coaxing its contents out into a pitcher. We exchanged pleasantries as he worked. Not long afterwards, Cherney stood a few paces from the keg with a full pitcher, offering it to people. Fellow UWM acting graduate Travis A. Knight (the guy who played the 2nd officer and a sailor) stood there talking with him. Actors generally seem quite short when you see them offstage. Not Knight or Cherney. Next to each other, they appeared to be of average height until you looked at the rest of the actors in the room. Knight told me he was probably going to head off to LA soon to look for work.

The normal joke about Los Angeles goes something like this: Go to audition anywhere in LA and you’ve already got at least one thing going against you—just being from the Midwest adds at least ten pounds. I’ve heard horror stories from actresses—really thin ones—who were told they’d have a job if they just lost The Magic Ten or fifteen or whatever. (There’s definitely something wrong with LA.) Travis Knight could make it work, though. Knight is towering. He’s no Yi Jianlian, but he wouldn’t look out of place on a basketball team with say . . . James Ridge. It should be noted here that the height of actors fascinates me, as I am myself, somewhat short.

 

This is all, of course, completely trivial. It was a fun evening, though.

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