Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Dance Party: Dressing Room Demeanor

Actors with whom I share dressing rooms often are surprised that I become so subdued backstage, once rehearsals are over and performances begin. My natural ebullience (shut up) which is always on display during the rehearsal process seems to vanish once we move into the dressing room. This has always been the case with me; my body takes over, and though I don't do it consciously, my energy level plummets, and, in the dressing room, I appear to become depressed, quiet, and downright gloomy. This is my body saving adrenalin, I think; it has happened for years and years, and almost always garners comment from my fellow actors. Even back in grad school, this behaviour was commented upon by a director who was also appearing with me in a play: he became concerned that I was actually upset about something. Nope, it was just my body shutting down for a little while, in preparation for a resurgence of energy as soon as the curtain went up.

So, I am usually very quiet and isolated in the dressing room, much to the consternation of my roommates. I'm used to it by now, god knows. In about 100 shows over the years, I have had my own dressing room exactly three times. In grad school, I appeared in a one-man play called The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, so naturally, I was alone in the dressing room (which, as I recall, really wasn't a dressing room. We did the show in the school's lab theatre, and the dressing room doubled as the paint closet). The second and third times I had my own private dressing room coincided with the two productions of Vigil I performed about a decade ago. The show has only two performers, and as they are opposite sexes, we each had our own room.

Those were the only times when my quiet, reflective demeanor in the dressing room has not been commented upon by other actors. This is surely because most other actors are exactly the opposite in the dressing room. There is always loud, boisterous chatter among the actors, and sometimes much more. This week's Dance Party proves the point. It is a little different from other clips in this series, as I lifted it from somebody's facebook page, rather than from a film or TV show. It includes, coincidentally, an appearance by Bill Diggle, who directed the show which I will be closing tomorrow night, The Nerd at Wayside Theatre. Bill is an actor as well as director, and he works pretty steadily in the DC area. Here, he and his dressing roommates are having some fun making an exercise video with a twist. (Bill is the guy eating a hotdog.) The show for which these energetic guys are preparing is Sunset Blvd, which ran in DC over the holidays. I saw the show, among a host of others during the hols, and wrote about it here. I had no idea this kind of hijinks was going on backstage (I would never suggest it may explain the under-energized performance of the show I caught).

Honestly, I wish I could be one of these actors, who can have such goofy fun in the dressing room, then step out on stage and perform at their best. These guys certainly have more fun in the dressing room than I. And they look good doing it! So, with my apologies to the owner of the facebook page from which I lifted this clip (I don't remember who), please enjoy a Dressing Room Dance Party:

A Modest Suggestion: Buy This DVD

We're approaching the grand finale of The Nerd at Wayside Theatre, with tonight's performance to be followed by two tomorrow. Then, this wild ride will be over (and it has been one, believe me). I almost wish we had finished last night, as we had a very large and boisterous crowd, which seems essential for this piece. Thespis sent us an audience full of people who had been drinking heavily, and mixed in one or two gents with Asperger's. The performance was one for the books, and would have been a great one to take this play "up, over, and out," as my beloved acting coach Bobbi used to say.

But this weekend's stage ending should not overshadow my booming film career. And by booming, I mean the smart little indie flick I made last October. A Modest Suggestion is available, starting today, for purchase or online streaming! You can snag a copy at, here is the link. I have visited the site only for this purpose, and it seems to be a place where filmmakers can self-distribute their work. As far as I know, A Modest Suggestion has yet to be accepted into any of the film festivals to which it was offered, though I understand that a shorter, half-hour cut of the film has also been making the rounds (the full length film is only 70 minutes, but I guess somebody thought it still seemed to drag a bit?). Regardless, the movie is bypassing the need for a bigtime distribution deal. It is also available on, both for purchase and for streaming, if that's more your style. Here is the film's Amazon page.

I have seen the final cut, and am pretty proud of our work, which was created with an extremely low budget and under less-than-Hollywoodlike conditions. I have just checked the history of this blog, and discovered that I wrote a total of six entries about the making of A Modest Suggestion, and since I'm such a fascinating writer as well as human being, I'm sure you'll want to enjoy them at your leisure. Go here to find all six; they will come up in reverse chronological order, but if you scroll down, and read "from the bottom up," as it were, you'll get a fun look at the making of the film, from my audition onwards (or at least, my impressions of the making of the film, and that's all that counts, right?)

Haul out the popcorn, and enjoy some satire this weekend!