Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

A few years ago, my theater company produced a show called Pretty Things by Zach Helm (Helm, the writer of Stranger Than Fiction and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, was a good friend in college). The original title was Semasiology (A branch of linguistics which asks for the meaning of the word vs. Onomasiology which asks for the word that expresses a concept).

The production was, to some extent, troubled - a number of budgetary and technical concerns got in the way, as well as a script that had some challenging ideas and excellent writing, but perhaps needed another go through.


The story focuses on Annie Parker, a woman struggling with addiction and mental illness, who is also a brilliant writer. In what came as something of a surprise to me, I was asked to play Annie.

On a certain level, I believe I was miscast. I'm not sure I was an appropriate match, physically - and I'm not much on the self-torture of the unsung genius. But Annie was one of the most difficult roles I've ever had to play. The idea of this person scared the living hell out of me, possibly because she was an outward manifestation of some truly private demons, and I didn't feel much like wrestling with that kind of thing in public.

And then there was the 9 minute long suicide scene at the end.

During the run, I compiled a CD that I listened to only on show days. It took me from beginning to end of the show, got me in the mind set I needed.

The song, H. by Tool was a cornerstone of this CD. It speaks of addiction, loss, love, and obsession in ways that made sense to me long before Annie, and even after.

Even now, I can still feel Annie bumping around in there. As disturbing as this show was for me to perform, I'm not sorry I did it.


joe g said...

Cool track. I hear some Tony Levin/King Crimson influence deep down in there.

Do you do a CD for every show?

-j-j- said...

I don't always make a dedicated CD, but every show I direct or perform has a play list of some kind.

For Minnesota Normals, I listened to the Gentle Side of John Coltrane (two tracks in particular featured Johnny Hartman) For doing the Christmas DADA show, I listened to my Favorite Christmas songs to see how I could tear them up.

Stuff like that.

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