And then sometimes there are those rehearsals. Something just happened. I am not even sure that I can articulate what happened. But it did. I am having some vocal fatigue. And I was drinking some green tea. And there were some friends that I said hi to and then this thing happened.
We finally brought in the metronome. Jean mentioned this back several months ago when we were trying to figure out tempo. I remember the conversation and that it had to do with finding an app for a phone that could do this thing for us.
But ever since the 10 minute 15 second Not I run, we knew that something was needing. Something needed to change and there was not a clear way to do it.
Thing is, and I think it comes from last time, last round, last adventure, where I started out slow and the tempo sped up as it all went on. But it’s not right. It never was. And I’ve had this problem with the beginning ever since. Getting to hit my “race pace” as I am fond of calling it, from the get go. I can fly as it goes on but that’s not right either. There’s something about a steady pace from the get go and the fragment of the sentences, the tension in that artificially that is key to the inner scream, or the tension in the tension or something like that.
So we brought in the electronic metronome. And hit a pace. Picked a tempo and I learned just how freaking difficult it is to keep on a pace. But if we think about Beckett writing pieces of music more than anything else, then of course there needs to be something setting a tempo. And the fighting against that.
I’ve felt at sea finding the tempo. And the music of all of that is so key. I have felt adrift with the finer points of the words and the pace ever since I got into this swirl with the ellipsis. And once again without Mr. Beckett in my face and conducting me, what’s a gal to do.
First pass with the metronome was too slow. And I was really fighting it. I know that it sounds slower to me than it does to the rest of the world, but I felt like I had all the time in the world between phrases, and that they weren’t neatly fitting together around the bouncing ball. Also began to think about how annoyed actors get about all of Beckett’s “unfair restrictions.” To be clear, I am NOT that actor, and that’s a whole different blog post. But I can see the annoyance. Anyway, round 2 of metronome…
Sped it up a little bit. More beats per minute. And I wouldn’t exactly say it was perfect. In fact it was not. Perfect. But close. Need to speed it up more as it came in at exactly 16 minutes and needs to come in more like 14.5.
But I had this totally relentless beat. I didn’t have to be responsible for the rhythm, just had to honor it somehow in my body. And the damn thing was binging in my head, like the buzzing, that kind of annoyance that I couldn’t get away from. Can’t move. Can’t deny the text. I’m only a mouth saying these words.
So I began somehow thinking that what got Billie through it was having a spotting light in the back of the theatre. A fixed point on the wall that kept her sane. Before that she had been put in a mask that covered every part of her face but her mouth and she couldn’t see, got vertigo and walked smack into a wall. She was standing at the time obviously, and that was its own set of problem, but still.
I picked this point in the wall. Some kind of imperfection in the brick and I began speaking to it. And the rest of the world fell away. Even this damn buzzing/binging thing, sometimes. And I remembered another Billie bit of wisdom, that she began throwing her words at this point in space, as if she could send them there and bore a hole right through the wall. That’s what I did. That’s what I tried to do to escape the rest of the universe.
It was as relentless as it could get. And I was so damn angry, and desperate and it mounted and it mounted and it went on and I got choked up but it kept going.
It slacked off, well, I slacked off at the point where mouth learns from the unknown voice that nothing she could tell, and nothing she could think will get her out of this. I suspect that the only thing that will get her out of this weirdo purgatory loop is to admit that all of this is happening to her, as in first person, as opposed to she or this. Nothing you can think, nothing you can tell, just something you can be. You. Not she.
Doesn’t matter. She never does get there, that we can see.
But I backed off and accepted that that’s what I was being told. Bad idea. If that’s the salvation- telling this thing (refer to previous posts somewhere) then it’s something to fight or something that causes panic. And on a technical level, something that will drive me to the end.
But it was good.
It was also good to learn a little bit about what the ending is supposed to be. Beckett’s stage direction says something about the curtain starting down at a certain point, and that what you get is unintelligible voice for 10 seconds that relents when the lights come up. I believe that the curtain is a convention that Beckett was used to in traditional theatrical settings but not something strictly necessary. I don’t believe that we’re going to have one.
So what does it mean then? What would Beckett do? He’s have the voice slack off gradually until it was gone. Which is what I tried that time after the final movement and the double SHE. Apparently it was great. Or heartbreaking or something. I couldn’t tell you. I was still inside it.
But something happened with these 2 things. Meter and boring a hole into the wall. These 2 things together brought flatness with clarity and inner scream. And all that jazz.
And the best part is I think these are things I can do again. That’s the thing I’ve been worried about. (I’m not allowed to say I’m not an actor anymore.) ok, so I’m an artist who’s been out of practice at being an artist but clearly it’s coming back. The thing I’ve been concerned about it trying for consistency night after night. Obviously live theatre changes from night to night, but when one finds these interesting, helpful, shall we say correct things? How does one get them back night after night? Well I feel like these are things I can do.
And drink green tea apparently. I still have the taste of Tazo Zen in my mouth. There’s a little Beckett in joke there, though I didn’t mean for there to be. Green tea, as the reader will remember, is featured in Play. It’s what the gals drank while they bashed their husband/lover- without sugar or even a squeeze of lemon. I can get behind that.
Such are the rituals I guess. Whatever gets me through the day, or gets me through the play.
More anon, as I realize this was the move closest to going back to the laban technique of 10 years ago… stay tuned dear readers. I need some tea.