Flux Sunday, December 9th
After our hiatus for Pretty Theft and the holiday, it was great to return to our weekly workshop series, Flux Sunday. We ended up at Tiffany's Robin Reggi space, a hip architectural loft with lots of space for different scenes rehearsing simultaneously.
And that was a good thing, because we had a record 8 scripts to wrestle with! To accommodate the number of pages and some late arriving Fluxers, some were read at the table and the rest staged. While I had a few tense moments trying to pair the actors with parts, making sure everyone had something worth their time, it ended up being one of our more vibrant Sundays.
We began reading Jaime Robert Carrillo's Simple. Flux knows Jaime as a versatile actor and passionate director (as well as an associate producer at Classical Theatre of Harlem) so it was great to see this side of his talent. A lonely man and his unusual sexual encounter in a strange hotel had a cinematic fluidity that gave the enigmatic action some urgency.
We then moved onto Brian Pracht's now classic Flux Sunday play, The Misogynist, or No More Mr Nice Guy. We developed this play at our last Flux Retreat, and Brian has continued to fine tune this dark comedy of frustrated male desire. This particular scene reminded me of the balance Brian strikes throughout the play of good vs bad intentions - no action any of these characters take is ever just one or the other.
Then onto Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, an epic memory play of one genius teenager's creation of a human ornithopter, i.e. human-propelled wings. We're really getting into the heart of this play now, and Tom DelPizzo brought all the arrogance and vulnerability that lives in our protagonist Jay's heart. Rob has all of the balls in the air now- the bullies, Jay's girlfriend Maggie, his now-surpassed mentors the Salt Brothers, the manipulating Admiral Crane trying to get the secret out of Jay- and now it is a matter to see how everything, well, falls. Rob just wrote that this play is going to be a part of staged reading series called hotInk, and I can't wait to hear the play in full. And a scene from Icarus will be in our next Have Another bar series on the 7th!
We then split into five groups with an hour to rehearse each of the scenes: Kay Mitchell directing David Ian Lee's Sleeper, Jeremy Basescu self-directing his A Wonderful Wife, David Douglas Smith directing Adam Szymkowicz's Open Heart, Jaime directing Johnna Adam's 8 Little Antichrists, and Candice Holdorf directing herself in Katherine Burger's Ah, Batvia!
I am always amazed by how even an hour's rehearsal can snap a scene into near production quality level of heat. That is always true of anything Candice does - her legendary series of performances at Flux always seem to involve costumes, props, and of course, razor sharp acting choices. In Ah Batvia, she played Katherine's divine Anthea, a Batvian were-panther married to a doddering English lord for devious purposes. She, Ken Glickfeld, Joe Mathers and Katherine's delirious language made me laugh out loud numerous times.
My sister Marnie and I landed the first scenes of Johnna's 8 Little Antichrists, the final play in her Angel Eaters trilogy. All three plays will be discussed more in depth in later entries, but this first scene really heightened my expectations for where this play will go (Mason conspiracies!) and acting with Marn is always great; though because this was a brother-sister fight, I found myself shaking a little afterwards. I think we fought more in that scene than we have in years of sibling hood!
Part of the thrill of Flux Sundays is our actors learning how to work within the worlds of our playwrights. With Adam's Open Heart, the sheer delight Tiffany Clementi and Brian Pracht took in his lunatic lovers showed me we're getting closer to understanding how his plays work; especially gratifying after Tiffany and Brian did such fine work in his Pretty Theft. Not to mention its really fun anytime you have playwrights like Adam, Johnna, Brian and Katherine all acting together in a scene.
Jeremy's A Wonderful Wife has been a wonderful opportunity to watch Cotton Wright wring both venom and longing from the simplest statements; in this scene, she played a character new to the play, Cynthia; and clearly articulated this young woman's journey into understanding, and using, the power her beauty holds. A rapt Jake Alexander gave the scene a surprisingly potent chemistry for a mere hour's rehearsal.
We had run out of time, and the playwright of Sleeper David Ian Lee had not materialized, and so for a moment we debated holding the scene until the next Flux. But graciously the group decided to stay, and we were treated to a melancholy dream sequence between lost father and grieving daughter (Rob Ackerman and Hannah Wolfe respectively), and then to the treat of Jane Taylor ripping the roof off with her potently offensive right wing talk show host. Our collective jaws dropped.
Eight scenes, twenty artists and three hours (and change) later, we emerged from the day more or less in tact, and already thinking about the next one.