Sidney Redlich is the smallest role I’ve had the opportunity to play since I’ve joined Bag&Baggage and I couldn’t be more tickled. It’s a worn cliche that there are no small roles, only small actors, but it gets worn out because of how true it is. Like the crotch in jeans. I’m going to list two big advantages of the small supporting role and then one big challenge.
Advantage number one: I get to come to rehearsal, relax and watch my astounding peers do their work. This really is a joy. Instead of focusing all my time developing character, memorizing a ton of lines, working motivation and nuance into those lines, then finally internalizing them enough to really be listening and responding, I get to watch people I admire so much work their craft, and I get to write long run on sentences. Seriously count to commas up there. Sheesh!
It’s a blog. I choose not to edit.
Advantage number two: Napping. Now I know this doesn’t seem to jive with advantage number one. How can I be watching my peers work and napping? Isn’t that rude? Yes. It would be. Luckily I have those glasses with open eyes painted on them. No one is the wiser.
Seriously though, I watch as much as I can, but I’m simply not needed a lot of the time so I get to rest after a long day for an extra hour or so before heading into rehearsal a lot of nights. We all lead busy lives and so understand how precious a little feet-up time is. I say we’re all busy but then again you found time to read a theatre actor’s blog so I suggest taking up a better hobby. Lawn bowling perhaps? I love me some bocce ball!
The big challenge is not getting distracted. I come on for a few minutes in the middle of the play and then again toward the end. There is no time to ease into character, to get comfortable on stage. I’ve got to be ready and be on it. That means doing the prep work. Practicing way more than feels necessary so that I am warmed up, ready to go and fully immersed in the world of the show the moment the stage door opens. That means putting down my book at least five minutes before my cue, which can be really hard. That Doris Kearns Goodwin writes a real page-turner!
I’m kidding of course. The discipline of the craft in this scenario is staying focused throughout the show. Without that it could feel jarring and inauthentic when I come on, and a show is only as good as it’s worse scene. That’s the challenge: staying focused so as to support my peerless peers the best I can. … Now what was I talking about?