When I first heard that we were actually going to do True West again, the first thing that came to mind was, Oh, no - not more rehearsals.
What a relief to learn that you get credit for past performances and that means you don’t have the same rehearsal schedule as before. It's not carte blanche by any means, but you do get to keep a portion of your life the second time around. Guess it's like a second marriage, you can apply what you should've learned the first time around to the second go-a-round so it should go smoother.
Anyway, Gris Gris Productions presented the initial pair of four-day runs of the Sam Shepard play at Cite des Arts in April. Richard Howes, a live theater enthusiast, saw the play more than once and wanted more people to see it, so it's opening tomorrow (Thursday) for another four-day run, this time at Theater 810, 810 Jefferson St.
So this time around it's a Gris Gris Productions and Richard Howes Production. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
"I saw the play the first time and I enjoyed it so much - I thought the acting was so good, I thought it was such a great play - that I went back a second time and took three friends with me and I was equally enthusiastic about that night," says Howes,
Before we go on, here's a couple of full disclosures: I am in the play (again). It's the same one I wrote about in mid-April. Winnie Darphin-Bacque', who is also in True West, is a cousin of Howes.
Howes, who is one to go to Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, has high praise for brothers Brock and Blake Hoffpauir, who play brothers Austin and Lee, respectively, in the play.
"I thought Blake and Brock did such a marvelous job," he says. "The way they played those parts was so engaging, I really thought other people ought to see it, see them doing that. It really is a great play."
Howes pauses and says in so many words that Winnie and I did a good job, too. Hey, I'm down with that. The Hoffpauir brothers are the stars and they're experienced and it shows. Besides, they're in all nine scenes in the two act play; I'm in two, and Winnie comes in during the final act.
"I'm really interested in local theater. Anybody who wants to go see a play on Broadway, you see great actors doing great things," says Howes. "But when you're at a local theater in a more intimate environment, it really brings the whole experience up."
My memory isn't what it used to be and that can be both good and bad, so my biggest fear in the first True West run was memorizing my lines. As it happened, if I recall correctly, it went pretty smoothly.
In fact, it was fun, especially when you’re clicking on stage - remembering your lines and blocking properly, although blocking is not the term we use anymore and I forget the new terminology. Blocking means getting to where you’re supposed to be and being there when you’re supposed to be.
I may rankle a few thespians, but for me live theater is similar to playing sports. Not that I'm a jock or have anything against them except outrageous salaries, but as it is with sports, there’s a teamwork quality about live theater and that is pretty cool, at least on my level, anyway.
Live theater reminds me of playing basketball, soccer, or Ultimate in that you know where you’re supposed to be, but if it happens that you can’t get there no matter the reason, well, that’s okay - just make it work.
And in both sports and theater, making it work only comes after doing what you've practiced over and over and over again.
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