Monday, February 24, 2014

My Time on a New York Street in 1929

For the past 7 weeks I worked on a production of the play Street Scene by Elmer Rice and what an experience that was.  The play takes place on the street outside an apartment building in New York in 1929, a time that was incredibly different from today.  This whole production process what quite a learning experience.  I played Shirley Kaplan, who is described in the stage directions as "a dark, unattractive Jewess, past thirty."  What a character description.

Sam, Abraham, and Shirley Kaplan.  What a beautiful family.

Street Scene is intended to be a naturalist piece, showing a slice of life in New York in 1929.  There is a lot of dated language as well as dated views of the world.  One of the things that we really had to work on was separating the world of the play and the characters of the play from the world we live in.  We had to remind ourselves that our characters were saying things, not us personally.

Another challenge of the piece was the size of the cast.  This cast was massive.  Since it is naturalism, Rice wrote many characters who pass by the apartment building in an attempt to make it feel like a real street.  This meant that we had around 30 people in the cast which is huge for a straight play.  And that was with characters being cut from the show.  It was pretty cool because I got to meet and work with a lot of people I wouldn't have gotten to otherwise.

The apartment building.  My apartment was the one to the right of the doors.  Picture by Kayleigh.
It has been quite a while since I have been on stage (over a year) and this was a great way to get back into acting.  I also learned a lot about directing, being a directing emphasis and all.  It was really cool to see Kathy work with such a huge cast.  She really took the time to work with every person regardless of part size.  She always has new ideas and was willing to hear recommendations.  It became quite a collaborative process and, in the end, we were able to create something that we were all proud of.  I am so glad I got to take part in this production.  And now I will get some sleep.

(I made two awkward dances with this cast that can be found on my YouTube page.)

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