Friday, February 03, 2006

Theatreactiv Festival 2006

A rabbi and a priest making out
A paperbag princess
Several burps that were done "serenely"
A bilingual play
Four women disrobing on stage
Very comical skinny Ben using an exercise ball (I must find a picture of this!)
Three lettuce tattoos
A man who turns into a cat

And, yes, if you were wondering, the last one was from my play, Claws.

I'm not quite sure that I summed up the entire festival in those eight unsentences, but I think those are things that are worth mentioning nonetheless.

You are probably still thinking of the first statement -- a priest and rabbi making out -- since it was probably the raciest. Thanks go to Gordon's play, Lunch Time at the Russian Tea Room. I think this was probably the wackiest play of the festival. It was short, it was crazy, it was all over the place, and it was funny. I thought it perhaps too weird, but my Dad thought it was a great play. The priest and rabbi are a result of this famous Hollywood director's vision of a new play. She's trying to sell her idea to a timid playwright, but he wants nothing to do with it. She proposes an alternate suggestion: ten year-olds in leather. He equally refuses. The twist is that her idea of a rabbi and a priest falling in love actually springs to life, and both men make their way into the playwright's life. It ends with them sorting his laundry together. Kooky!

Minnesota Moon was about two guys, one who is a hick, one who is soon off to college. They drink beer, whilst talking about women, the war in Vietnam, and life. It is a funny and oftentimes touching play. This is the play where the actual stage directions (I actually read it) call for the actors to burp "serenely" or to burp "pensively". What with all the pop they consumed -- five cans for one, seven cans for the other -- it was not too difficult to do. I remember each time they would finish rehearsing or performing, they would both run at full to speed to the bathrooms.

My lettuce comment refers to the play, This is a Play. It is a play within a play, in which three characters, one of which was Andrea, are in a Southern nineteenth century play. However, all the funny bits happen when you hear their thoughts. As they are on-stage, they complain as to how much they dislike the other actors and the director and who they think of as their inspiration. For instance,
"I enter the stage with conviction, moving my hands in this strange way because my director told me so," and then you would see Andrea moving her arms in a wave-like fashion, looking really ridiculous, which makes the entire thing hilarious.
All three characters are extremely strong actors and worked very well with each other. Although on their opening night, their male actor came exceedingly drunk, they still managed to pull of the play flawlessly. However, I am sure you can imagine the mass amounts of worry and panic that were going on backstage. Good thing he had time to sing in the guy's dressing room as well as throw up a little before going on stage.

About the girls undressing? That play was called The Most Massive Woman Wins. It was about four women in a liposuction clinic, talking about their lives, acting out various moments that specifically relate to their problems with weight. My Dad was a bit worried that the play would be about four women standing around, talking about their feelings. The play was a little like that, but there was a lot more to it, such as the times where the three other woman would pretend to be a mother or friends in the fourth woman's life. The undressing part was only them taking off their outer clothing and revealing their undergarments. Although I believe the script is quite well written, it was really the stupendous acting that made the play shine. I was convinced during the entire time and never felt like the actors were simply "acting". They were four weight-obsessed women, and they really portrayed them marvelously.

Robert Munsch's Paper Bag Princess was adapted by Louisa, the director, into a play. This play finished off Night B, and what a way to end the night! It was a light, fun, interactive, and playful play, and it always made you feel good. I would like to make special mention to Stephanie who played the dragon. She had stellar performances for both nights I saw her. As an energetic dragon with a raspy New Yorkian accent, she couldn't have done any better.

Theatreactiv is always an amazing time -- through rehearsal time as well as cast and drama parties, I have met and talked with some really interesting people. We had two weeks and one day to put together a ten-play festival. At first, I was a little worried as to how we would be able to pull this off, but by having two-hour rehearsals nearly every day until opening and by having dedicated actors, then, hey, it's a breeze. The two co-ordinators were extremely well-organized, and the festival seemed to be virtually problem-free.

Wait, a minute here, what about the play about the dude who gets all feline?

That, my friend, needs an entry all to itself. be continued...

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