Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bass, Bronchitis, and Blocking

While I initially came aboard Dido as a vocalist and mandolin player, it became apparent pretty quickly that mandolin was not the most necessary instrument for the show. Sure, it can offer some lovely accents (and I still will probably be playing a bit), but it's not as important as, say, bass. So about three weeks ago, when Rachel asked if I could play bass instead, I said, "Sure, why not?"

I had never played bass before.

But with Rachel's instruction (and Josh explaining Tab to me), I started plunking away one note at a time, and pretty soon, I was addicted. I'd practice the bass part for the songs Rachel had already gone over with me, and then I'd try playing along to favorite songs on my ipod, and then I'd realize I'd been practicing for over two hours without noticing. I didn't think I'd be able to play and sing at the same time...until I did. It was a great feeling to get everyone singing and playing at once.

And then I lost my voice. Twice.

On the bright side, that let me pay more attention to blocking. I couldn't sing, but had enough of a voice to be able to do some scene work. Tony had taped out the playing space in the practice room, and this past week I got a chance to work through scenes with Josh, Celi, and Rachel. It was tricky at first, because the playing space is quite small compared to what I'm used to (9 x 14 feet, which I suspect is fast becoming our mantra). I think we're getting used to it now, though. Working in that small of a space has forced me to be more aware of my own body and my spatial relationship to others. It's helped me get rid of a great deal of superfluous movement (though I've got a ways to go yet), and think about my choices. Why do I get close to someone? When do I chose to stand my ground?

This idea has helped the most in terms of thinking about Achates and his interactions with Aeneas and Anna, and how my choices affect what an audience will see of those relationships. And it doesn't hurt that Tony keeps doing his director thing and asking good (and sometimes tough) questions. I don't always have an answer right away, but the idea sticks, and maybe I come into the scene with a possible answer the next time. Until we change it again.

Really, that's what's been so great about this show, how willing everyone has been to try new things, whether it's a different character choice or approach to blocking, learning a new instrument...and oh yeah, the script itself. No matter the question, the answer is always, "Sure, why not?"

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