A Twist of Water

What’s so funny? The First Week of Rehearsal.

Posted by Erica Weiss on January 21, 2011

No matter what the play, no matter how deep or difficult the subject matter… theatre should be fun. And we are having a blast.

Now, A Twist of Water, for all it’s heaviness, actually has plenty of comedy. Caitlin sometimes receives complains that she hasn’t written a comedy, at least not since A View from Tall. I disagree. In a way, all of her plays are comedies. She’s too funny a writer and too funny a person to leave her sense of humor out of a scene for too long. Add that dynamic to the wicked senses of humor that round out the rest of this room, and we wind up with a pretty wonderful balance of good times and hard work. I’m now going to embarrass the cast by both singing their praises and telling you why they crack me up.

Lili-Anne Brown, or Lil (who plays Tia), is a sassy-pants. She is so damn smart and always has a brilliant insight to share. She’s really only in one scene in the play (oh man, but what a scene), but she brings her piercing intelligence and wit to the room whenever she’s with us.

Alex Hugh Brown (playing the role of Liam), aside from being ridiculously cute (seriously, you could sell tickets to your face, Alex), has an incredible method of verbalizing his acting thought process when he hits a line or a moment that needs work. Out of nowhere, he’ll start saying the same line over and over again, with different inflection, talking to himself, trying to figure out the best way to say it, and it’s kind of like watching Rain Man. I admire the hell out of it, actually, and it really works for him, but the first time, it came so completely out of nowhere and went on for so long that I wound up crumpled on the floor, convulsing with laughter, tears streaming down my face, gasping for air. And for the record, he kept going. And going. And going. We all witnessed something magical that night.

Stef Tovar (our illustrious Artistic Director, playing the role of Noah) is fully and hilariously inappropriate. So am I… and really, so is everyone else, so we do encourage him. His recent valiant attempts to understand youth culture and speak the language of the street are reminiscent not so much of Marky Mark and more of Michael Steele. Stef is by no means old or out of touch… but it is pretty fun to make him feel that way. And last night, when we were discussing Lauryn Hill, and he said “who’s that?” it was open season.

When we first met Falashay Pearson (playing the role of Jira), Caitlin and I struggled to find the best way to describe her. We settled upon: “If Christopher Walken and a black Unicorn had a baby.” But Falashay is so adorable and lovely that no one believed me when I described how weird and funny she is, and at first, no one could understand why I started giggling every time she opened her mouth to speak. But now they all understand, especially after seeing her impression of a man she calls “Houndog,” a karaoke regular who sings Elvis songs while wriggling his hips nonstop and barely opening his lips to get the words out of his mouth.

I’m writing this and thinking to myself, “maybe you just had to be there.” To be honest, that’s one of the things that makes rehearsal processes so wonderful and precious – the only people who will really be able to understand what it was like are the people who were in the room. In that way, it’s not unlike theatre itself. The experience of live theatre can never be replicated. Every performance, with a different audience, will be a different show, and those moments are shared only by the artists and the patrons in the room, together, on a shared journey for 2 hours or so.

We’re getting into heavy stuff with this show, but that doesn’t mean we should be crushed by the weight. You don’t have to punish people in order to move them. As long as we are able to laugh together and slowly, organically, become a show-family, we will find the balance between light and dark, and when you come to see this group onstage, we hope you will feel that balance, too.

We miss you, Caitlin. Even though you’re in Los Angeles, you’re in the room with us in spirit.

Onward! We have so much still to do.

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