Well, in just under a month I’m on stage in another show. I love acting – it’s like my break from academia and the real world. It stretches me, gives me a chance to interact with the world in new and sometimes very strange ways. I get to see things through someone else’s eyes, and say words that aren’t mine in a way that is a blend of myself and that other person. It’s also crazy fun!
This time around though, I opened my script to find my lines completely in total utter gibberish. The words are sort of English but not. My role is a teacher teaching a made-up language as a con to make a quick buck. Most of the time I speak in this made up dialect – honestly – it’s quite difficult. Not in the sense that the words are hard – but that the melody and rhythm is hard. I can’t do caricatured body language to translate what I’m saying, I have to rely on HOW I use words and my voice and HOW my face and body move when I say things to convey what the “translation” is.
Tonight was fun – I put different spins on various lines, feeling out and trying to find the song in the words that would make everything click and be both hilarious and compelling. The language is made up so sometimes I have the freedom to infuse random linguistic influences – this word is Russian, that one is German, that one is Italian. The character has to be charismatic, slick, and convincing – after all, they are selling a fake product here. It’s a fun script that feels insurmountable in terms of memorisation at present, but when it’s read it somehow feels do-able, like the fake language I’m speaking starts to slowly make more sense as I read through my lines again and again…am I going crazy? Probably. It’s weird to see my mind adjust to a language that is purposefully nonsensical without me really trying very hard.
Since I teach it’s easy for me to ‘play a teacher’ so to speak. I can get up and point at made up words on a white board with ease. Lecture and coach my fake student with zero problems or hangups. But the character isn’t easy on the whole – after doing a few reads I came to the conclusion that this con-artist has lots of levels to show the audience in a short amount of time. While most other roles have a two hour show to expand, contract, shrink, grow, twist, and morph – I’m doing a one act. I’ve got roughly fifteen minutes to show the audience about five or six layers of my character without making things awkward. It’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to!
Oh well. I’m fairly certain that madness is part of art. It’s at least certainly part of the fun of theatre! But please, in a few weeks if I’m posting in gibberish – send help…