January 3, 2012 | Author: John Tufts
Seriously though, this whole Pen and Powder Keg thing was a wonderful experiment, and test run for larger things to come. I expect this year could be an exciting one for alternative media here at OSF. A second year guy, and really wonderful actor, Miles Fletcher, and I are working on a project that could be something very new, and really fun for those who read this hidden little blog, and if we do it right, it'll reach a whole lot more people than those who manage to find myosf.org. The run of Equivocation in D.C. was, in many ways, the test ground to see if it could even work at all. Think of it as a low budget pilot.
For those who followed, thank you! The run in D.C. was a big success. The cast loves this show, and I'm pretty sure our audiences did as well. We were stopped many times on the street by people who had seen, and for a large city like D.C., that's really saying something. Christine and I were at the Newseum on the other end of town, and immediately upon walking in we were approached by someone who had seen the show four times already. I know you Ashland folks can top that, but it was an honor to perform in the nation's home base.
We're sad to see this one go. We started work on Equivocation in December of 2008. My now wife, then doe-eyed, optimistic, hopeful girlfriend, Chris and I had just finished performing a 45-minute Macbeth on a cruise in the Bahamas, and we all gathered in the cold Oregon Winter for a series of workshop rehearsals on Equivocation. Official rehearsals wouldn’t start for another 8 weeks, but we wanted to get a head start. I would say "who knew?" but in truth we all knew that it was something special.
As actors we always find a way to love the show we’re working on, even if we hate the show we’re working on. It’s a survival instinct. If we reveal how terrible a show is, then I feel like we’re committing the ultimate sin as actors, which is to say putting our personal feelings about the show ahead of the production itself. It would be like a running back letting himself get tackled to show how bad his linemen are.
Working on Equivocation, though, was one of those shows where there was little challenge in loving it. We knew, each of us, how strong a show it was from that first workshop three years ago. We also knew that it would kick our asses in every way. I’ve never faced a bigger challenge as an actor than working on this show. The technical side of it alone makes me weak just thinking about it. Just to get through I had to pull together my Tufts-given gifts of compartmentalization. So, I measure the second act like a baseball diamond. My first scene as James in the courtroom in Act two is 1st base. When I reenter as Sharpe, force Richard to leave the company, then sacrifice myself to bring him back I’m headed towards 2nd. When Gregory and I kiss on 2nd base (apt metaphor, no?), I step off second and head toward 3rd. On the way, I play a priest, an assassin, a town crier, and King James watching the porter in Macbeth. Then I exit the stage, round the corner, pick up three enormous heavy mirrors, take two giant breaths, wait for Tony to say “Benedicite” and then try to steal home plate. Technically I have to break down the show like that, because if I started the show thinking about stealing home plate, I'd be batting .000.
The show, however, doesn’t only kill us technically. It would be a relief if only our bodies bruised from the wear and tear. When you love a show as much we love Equivocation, every little thing matters. Every inch, every moment, every tiny little second matters. It’s like a high school relationship, when you’re so crazy about a person, you read every little signal and twitch, and your hyper-awareness of every second sends you into an angst-filled frenzy. I can’t tell you how many times I went home during rehearsals for this play in total despair because of a note from Bill Rauch suggesting that I emphasize one word as opposed to another word.
I know I’m starting to sound like a desperate housewife. “The bruised elbows and despair means it’s true love!” But here’s the thing: it is so rare, so completely rare to work on a show when all the stars align. A script that thrills and confounds. A director who inspires, and fiercely challenges. A cast of aggressive, passionate, wildly talented, and cooperative people. A production that succeeds in having an audience return 4, 5, even 20 times. A design team that can look at this labyrinth of a script and have the bravery to say, “Simplicity is the only avenue to the heart of this play.” Things like that don’t happen in collaborative art forms very often, so when something clicks, and an audience member tells you that this is her 4th time seeing the show in D.C., you want it to continue to click.
Thanks for reading. More anon.