Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disruption and its lessons 

I can tell you , that being considered a decent actress on the opera stage, doesn't mean that you'd find the same comfortability while on the theater stage.

 I kind of underestimated the many differences that are naturally existing between our crafts , and I am finding it absolutely fascinating to work through this process of assimilating into this new universe.
While I feel I could do a good job reacting to someone's operatic line, and using the music in the background in a believable way to my advantage, here in the theater, I have come to be introduced to a complete stranger:  SILENCE.

With the written word, there are so many different ways you could present it.  The sentence could be said a thousand times differently and each would be valid. But Silence is a lot of times, a very important part of it. 
Interesting to me was the fact that my director, Sebastian Nübling, has asked me to tone down my dramatic inclination and tendencies. While at the opera, I am considered quite subtle with my acting, in our theater play, it was my character, singled out , which needed to be the private one. While my colleagues are doing an amazing job speaking their monologues out, with direct contact to the public, and a lot of melodrama I, on the other hand, need to keep my monologue to a quiet minimum. Reason is- my character is the one who was not invented.

My character in this play is the fruit of a very intense collaboration with the brilliant playwrite Simon Stephens, who has interviewed me so intensively , I am not sure he knows me  any less than my own oldest best friend.

After the 6 days of 8 hour a day conversations with him, I was a bit concerned that this play will end up being a life  exposure  for which I was not really ready.    
But with his sensitive approach and intelligence, Simon has only created an image to me which is not a clear mirror, but slightly inflated, deflated, crooked, spotty and then cleaned again, until it IS my mirror, but not quite only mine.

This is really the first time I actually encounter such exposure, in every sense of the word.
If I normally sing the story of a mythological gypsy rebel, here, I am basically quoting my self, some with direct quotes, just more skillfully worded.    Where normally, I make sure that my costumes and wigs hide all my 'problem areas' and sit perfectly in order to make me look at all times  my best, here in fact, I  use a wig which is supposed to look like a *wig*, and very shortly after the "overture" I take it off, as I do with my "Carmen dress"- changing in front of everybody, (problem areas and all) into my pajamas. I strip down to a skin-colored under garment. Almost naked, I put on my PJ's,  and I remain with my own messy, squashed hair, and loose outfit assembly (beautifully envisioned and created by Amit Epstein) for the rest of the show.
But it is the text which is what really  is the big dare here-   Have I ever told the press something like: 

"I get a message from my agent in New York. And
 all of a sudden I’m on Washington Square in the summer time.
 Drinking an iced tea. Am I available to go to London? 
Am I available to go to Tokyo? How would I feel about giving 
Russia another try. 
This is all a complete lie,
 of course.
 I don’t get a message from my agent 
in New York. I don’t get a message from anybody in New York.
 I wonder for a  while if there is anybody left at all
 in New York".

 Have I ever tweetted or admitted in an interview that the world of opera, as much as it is so amazing, can also be so cruel? You begin as a promise and you most likely  end up a ghost? You sacrifice your home, your family life, your sense of identity, your health, your heart, your all,  and you can , at any moment, be replaced and forgotten? You get cast, what is pre- decided by managers and intendants and casting directors, as would  your stardom or failure be,  and you bring glory and success to the places and people  who hired you but most likely won't keep loyal to you or offer you any continuation because, like a Hollywood designer evening -gown,  what you showed once is not needed to be seen again, and because darling,  you have become old news?     This, and all the texts that I recite during the show,  could be fabricated or exaggerated , but in essence, they  are all based on my own reality: my life, my dreams, my fears, my nightmares.  And here, I have no music to hide behind. No orchestra is playing, not even a mere piano.  When I speak- I speak alone, and when I sing, I sing A- cappella .
I find this kind of work so refreshing.  Never in my life did I have to put my self in front of a public and feel like what I can say or act or sing is essentially completely shielded from any criticism, because in the end- the criticism  is all mine to give, whether it is with words, with A-cappella singing , or with the silence that's  in between the lines.

About the play: (review)  in German
Review in English


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