At the risk of sounding very silly altogether, I very much think these are interesting roles for myself and Sam, anyway, as they’re very familiar to us, and we’ve both looked at this play in our first year of college and said, now that’s a role I want to play. So getting cast as Harper was unbelievably class.
I dunno, every time I’ve gotten to do Harper and Joe’s scenes with Sam, I’ve always just felt something somewhere click into place, like a door unlocking –though I grant, that would be something peacefully clicking out of place! Sam gets it, whatever it is, and thus I feel like I’m able to catch on. But because these are characters in whose episodes we’ve experienced or witnessed too, all these huge emotions tend to –if you’ll pardon the pun- come out, when we’re rehearsing. (Not that we wouldn’t accept ‘em if they did J). Which means we end up turning into lil’ irritable bitches after long runs, as I’m sure most of the cast witnessed the other day in our first run! –This clicking comes about particularly in fight scenes. The couple bickers often, not because one is ign’nt or getting up in the other’s proverbial grill, but because they just don’t understand one another, and that under pressure to justify a thought, Harper freaks out and tries to escape the conversation, or that Joe simply cannot deal with some topics, as they are very uncomfortable for him, or he has struggled with them for so long. So every time we do these scenes, I end up with this proper-pissed off feeling in my guts that just writhes around my stomach until the next scene, or until we get a breather.
The last rehearsal we had, I don’t know why, but in our scene where we have a very small argument, that becomes a big argument and Harper gets upset, I just started getting madder and madder, and played her like a bull, for the whole thing. It’s funny, how the character comes out when we’re going the scene tends to be as diverse as how she actually acts in the play. For how predictable her swings in and out of her mind and reality are, the type of catharsis is quite unpredictable.
So I read in Sam’s blog –and who’m I kiddin’ I’ve talked the crap out of it with him- that the bit that really resonates with him is the section where Joe is asked outright if he is gay by his wife. So not only does Joe have to deal with the prospect of a sexuality that he believes to be a sin, but also the prospect of disloyalty to his wife, though we can clearly see how hard he struggles to be patient with her, and care for her. But the more I think about it, the more I tend to see Joe’s character as trying to shunt Harper’s problems into a box, and not have to deal with them on a real level, because of how consuming his own problems are. Anyway, what I really got on board with was a scene where we don’t actually argue.
In a moment of sheer comfort between the two, rather than the usual boiling pot that I had come to know as Harper, once Joe’s genuine comfort and attempts to sooth this week’s panic were voiced, I found the tenderness between them very hard to handle. The whole scene became very sad as her panics of a man being in their bedroom cranked up to an eleven, through her husband’s attempts to sooth her. It was like the branches parted to reveal the reason in her madness –like that scene in Fern Gully, where she parts the branches and he can see all this beautiful Nature and such. Yup. That scene. I realised the reason why she wasn’t “just crazy”, as no one is. She is traumatised. After the life she had been through, that is very briefly suggested throughout the text, I saw the connection in one particular hallucination of hers, and figured out the root of it. I couldn’t decided what was worse: trying to listen to Joe apologise and hear him say this was all his fault… or knowing that it was actually slightly true. At this point, I burst into tears, and didn’t stop until the end of the scene. Kushner’s a feckin’ powerhouse. What fantastic dialogue. There are these beautiful exchanges, that when you read in your head sound a little (don’t shoot me) pretentious, but once you find the heart of it, these character’s just break your own in two. Some lines in particular are just so simple, and so effective. I won’t give any more away.
One scene I was watching with Chris and Mr. Quinners, was just gut wrenching the other day. It’s just the perfect study of the affection between lovers when they’re put through hell. Or the effect of hellish experiences on lovers years later? I don’t know. It’s just really fucking good. I started asking myself were Joe and Harper some twisted insight into Louis and Prior’s future? Another one is Joe Power’s character, Roy. There are some sinkers of lines in two of his scenes, where the character is just completely rendered. I find myself feeling around in the dark, until I come across one or two lines and it’s like the play has just grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me with the answers to what I was asking!
So to sum up… wow, I’ve said a lot. Should I even add a summing up? Those of you who have made it this far, have clearly earned the benefit of the doubt of having read this much!
We’ve some beautiful scenes and bits to show you when you finally get to see it. Even to some fellow actors, I really dig getting to see scenes that have been looked at that I haven’t gotten to see. It’s like getting to watch the video, where you know what’s gonna happen in it, but not how!
Anyway, to sum up (I’ve decided that yes, I will sum up) Harper’s grand, Kushner’s great and the play’ll be a scream! 😀