Thursday, 19 May 2005

Portrait of a Quitter

Quitter, thy name is Brandon.

Today I parted ways with the CentreStage production of Sarah, Plain and Tall that I've made such a big deal of in recent weeks. It was quickly becoming obvious to me that I was having serious (insurmountable, even) problems with my lines, and it wasn't going to get better. It really was a fool's exercise to accept the role in the first place — my first role in community theatre: a lead role in a play I've only heard of as a Simpsons reference, taking place in a community far away from where I live, with an incredibly short rehearsal schedule that seemed to conflict with everything I do, and a performance schedule that took my whole summer away.

Why did I say yes? Because I'm that guy who can't say no.

Well, not anymore. This time, I said yes, and then I let other people down in a bad way. And I don't think I can do that again.

I feel like such a crappy person. :-/

Monday, 9 May 2005

On Comedy

Last weekend, I went to Meshuggah-Nuns, playing at CentreStage Theatre, Kentville. A great show, all around, and I would think that even if I wasn't already friends with most of the cast. ;-) It was, in fact, so good, I'm going to see it again this weekend, this time not even as a member of the cast group from my play.

Watching the actors in Meshuggah-Nuns though made me realize something, and that is, comedic acting — that is, serious goofball, totally friggin' nuts comedic acting — is easier than dramatic acting. What I am NOT saying is that comedy is easy to act; it isn't, believe you me.

In my dramatic role in Sarah, Plain and Tall, I'm quickly coming to see how much easier it is to see whether you're being a farce than whether you're being Joe Q. Average. I can do farce convincingly. I'm not sure I've got average down yet.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Desperately Seeking Understudy

"You found a boat for sale?"
"No. It's a man who says he's seeking an understudy."
"Well, why on Earth would you be interested in something like that?"
- from my version of Joseph Robinette's "Sarah, Plain and Tall"

CentreStage Theatre, Kentville, is undertaking a production of the (occasionally musical) drama, Sarah, Plain and Tall. It is based on the book by Patricia MacLachlan, which also spawned a highly respected film version starring Christopher Walken as the Kansas widower Jacob Witting, and Glenn Close as his perspective bride, the Downeaster Sarah Wheaton.

For reasons I don't yet understand – apparently I'm kind, genial and fatherly! – I was approached to take the role of Jacob in the CentreStage production. And for reaons I understand even less, I accepted. the only problem I have now is that I require an understudy. Now the only reason I need one is that I may have to travel for my job (or, more specifically, a new job). If this travel were to coincide with the performace run, that would be a Bad Thing.

The cast is a fun group of people, the story is touching, and it's a experience I'd recommend to you for sure. If you're interested in understudying for me, or know someone who might be, please let me know, so I can get you or them in touch with the play's director.

Monday, 2 May 2005

He Saved The World A Lot

Easter Day is well past now, but in the early days after that Holy day, I was left with a few thoughts and ideas that seemed worthy of their own category. In the intervening time, while I've formed these ideas into a cohesive shape and injected them with my typical vitriolic humour, the death of Pope John Paul II occured, and introduced the Theology category, a bit differently than I had planned.

That being said, without any further ado, let me present my Theology category, and it's *ahem* Second Hurrah. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to share my future meanderings down this path with you all. Do note that I get the irony that at least a portion of my audience is atheist (the adjective, not the noun), and either doesn't care or will want to pull their eyes out. Well, here's your chance!

In this age where humanism and spiritualism are digging their claws into each other, if one asked a (nominally) Christian group to name somebody who gave up his or her life to save humanity, you'd be as likely to get Jesus as your answer as you would to get Buffy Summers, the Vampire Slayer. You're welcome to deride this statement's validity all you like; the statement is certainly open to debate, and it is absolutely not based on scientific assessment or statistical analysis in any way. However, some statements I heard during the Holy Week observances led me to consider these issues, and this similarity anyway.

Before I go any further, I think it's important to admit that I don't know who Jesus was. I don't know whether he actually was actually borne of Mary, a virgin, whether he died on a cross, what he did between these things, or whether he was the son of God. I'm not sure how important the answers to these questions are either, in the scheme of things. Many of the important lessons of the Christian faith tradition don't come from the death of Jesus (or the Resurrection), but from his life, or rather, the stories of it that have been passed to us, from ancient generations, through scripture. Is every story about Jesus in the New Testament true? Probably not. But we can find, generally, a snapshot of someone who cared for others despite their cultural background, and despite their past actions.

But that wasn't the point of this conversation.

On Good Friday this year, I heard something that had been said on many previous Easter Days, but which I actually processed this time, for the first time. There's a line from the Apostle's Creed, which, by the way, we don't say very often in the United Church, which is why I only hear it on Easter at the Chapel. It goes simply like this:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.

He descended in to Hell. It's not a part of the story with which I'm particularly comfortable. I don't like to hear this; that suffering, even for the sins of the world, is an integral (some would say) part of my faith. Fortunately for me, the meaning of this line of the Creed has been debated by smarter people than I for centuries; they call it the Harrowing of Hell.

But, really, that wasn't my point either.

Buffy Summers. Jesus Christ. Both were called, for want of a better world, to some task greater than themselves. Both surrounded themselves with a community of friends, drawn from many walks of life and from outside what one might consider the "mainstream", to share in their lives and in their work. Both ultimately died to save the world from evil. Both, in the context of their experience and in the words of their time, asked that "this cup might pass me by".

Except Jesus died, this Apostle's Creed says, and went to Hell. And Buffy died and went to Heaven.

I wonder if this dichotomy means anything. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Or maybe I'm just completely off my rocker.

So anyway, to borrow and mangle Buffy's epitaph: "Jesus Christ: He saved the World a lot."