Sunday, February 18, 2007

Louis Nowra, my hero

So I met one of the most amazing people ever recently. Louis Nowra is one of the nicest, most intelligent, modest people ever. And as a bonus, probably one of the funniest and most laid-back people I'll ever meet! I'm still blown away by his demeanor during his stay. Not only did he come to the show, but he offered (offered!) to do a workshop for our Acting / Directing 2 course on his yet unpublished Boyce trilogy. That went over well. There are some great characters in these shows. It's not the first time in my life that I wish I was a man so that I could play one onstage...Luke is probably one of my favorite characters ever written. Louis also did a talk session prior to the show and a talkback the day after. These talks centered on the origins of the play, and Australia's heritage. Anyway, the night he came to the show was the most fun I've ever had. He was incredibly complimentary of my performance. I was a bit nervous, since people call The Golden Age his crowning achievement in his career thus far. He said prior to curtain that he hadn't seen the show in seven years. But afterward, he was so excited to talk with me about my choices. He even went with the entire cast to a pub for three hours to talk! During this outing, he told me that he believes strongly that once an actress plays this role, she can do anything...and that I'm further testament to it.

He asked me to keep in touch with him, especially if I'm in Australia. But one of the most moving things that he said to me was about his writing. He told me that I brought so much life to the character. A direct quote here..."boy, I really messed up your rhythm with Betsheb in the second act, didn't I? I really wished you were onstage more in the second act than I had written." (I was really smitten because he referred to my rhythm...not rhythm, or Betsheb's rhythm, or what have you!) He went on to say that he doesn't believe in rewrites, but if he did, that's what he would change. Based off of my performance (and likely the length of time its been since his last viewing of it). Wow.

Why was this character difficult? Here are some obstacles that I had to overcome:

  • I had an epileptic seizure in the first act
  • I have an autistic brother to care for
  • I practically speak another language and have a character center similar to spiderman (ha!)
  • I masturbate onstage -- partial nudity
  • I pee onstage -- THAT was hard. But mostly because one of my pre-performance rituals is to have a bathroom break!

Some things that I learned about Louis Nowra, and some things to ponder:

  • Louis stressed during his 3-hour workshop that he hates it when actors say, "my character wouldn't do that." He believes that characters should change and grow over the course of a show, possibly enough to do something opposite of their traditional nature. He celebrates these changes, and wishes more actors would embrace them and try to understand them rather than concentrate on rejecting them (which can't possibly help their performance).
  • He believes playwrights shouldn't direct their own scripts because every word becomes important, and the action gets slowed up. They make every word weigh in with the audience rather than being unbiased enough to choose the most appropriate ones for your concept.
  • He mentioned that actors have trouble with playwright Joe Orton. I need to look up this playwright and start working on his material!

This show definitely was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. It ranks up there with portraying Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank. I was sad to strike this set on closing night!

The top two photos are of Louis Nowra and I following the show he viewed and during the Washington State University reception.

The third photo shows Patrick A. Harris as my little brother Stef and how I "fed" him!

The final photo features Justin Strickland as Francis while Betsheb teaches him something!

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