Today our acting class went on a field trip.
Now if you’re keeping track you’d tell me, Becky, it’s Tuesday, you have acting class on Mondays you silly girl! Why yes, that is correct, however field trips are BONUS so they happen whenever…! So far my week had been quite theatrical…
We went to Manitoba Theatre Centre and saw the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Its a Chekhov inspired comedy and I don’t really have any idea what that means not being familiar with Chekhov’s work but you may know what it means, so it’s there for you. If you don’t know either, then comedy is the important word.
As part of our class we had to read the plays script either before or after the play so that we can compare the two and how things were different. I chose to read it before and reading it I was a little apprehensive. It seemed a little much. Everything was very over the top and sometimes the jokes seemed, well, not funny. There were a few moment when I laughed but mostly I just thought, well this is kind of weird… So going into the play I was interested to see how live acting and sets would change the play.
As we were going as a theatre department (I think there were three or four classes that went) we bused out together from the school. That was fun, I don’t think I’ve been on a group “field trip” since like 2009… I’m getting old folks… I was in grade eleven in 2009. So we field tripped out and then at the theatre got a behind the scenes tour!
I’ve never gotten to go behind the scenes in a proper theatre before so I was very interested to see everything that was going on. We got to see administration, rehearsal hall, the literal behind the stage area, props room, set construction room, costuming, all sorts of areas! It was very interesting. There’s part of me that likes to keep the magic of theatre and films complete and not know the hows but the other part of me always wins because its just so freakin curious about how everything works and where everything is and when and why and everything. I thought they did the tour really well, we got to see a lot of places and the tour guide was very thorough in all the question answering and we got to as the director of MTC’s next main stage production of The Woman in Black for a bit and it was all a grand ol’ time!
Then was play time! We were up in the balcony, which was fun, I’ve never sat up there before! I kind of liked being able to look down and absorb the whole stage in one look. While being close is great because you can see detail of facial expression and sets and it fills your vision so you are in the play, you do also notice different things sitting further back. I noticed more big picture things: The set as a whole, how other characters reacted during others lines, things like that. I liked it.
The play was very good. It was the kind of play where the actors could make or break it and they made it. It was very sharp and funny and sometimes verging on ridiculous but it kept a balance. The Manitoba Theatre Centre website describes the play so:
Siblings Vanya and Sonia are left with little but each other after sacrificing their adult lives to care for their ailing parents. But when their sister Masha, an aging actress, arrives with unsettling news and her 20-something boy toy Spike in tow, their static lives are thrown for a loop. (x)
Interestingly Spike was the character I was most surprised by. Somehow reading I expected him to be a little less naive… That being said, the way he was played wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I had imagined in my head when reading it. It’s interesting how we can all read the same play, my class, the director, the actors, we all read the same thing and yet can visualize different things based on upbringing, environment, company, even mood! It’s kinda neat!
I really did enjoy the play though especially because it wasn’t one I would have gone to of my own accord. I tend to just go to the plays I recognize or am familiar with. This one I read the description (before knowing my class would go see it) and thought, ehh, doesn’t really sound like my kinda play. And traditionally it wasn’t, but branching out is good and it was funny and I think that’s my first time going to see a comedy. I’ve been to see mostly classical literature adaptions so far… (Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes, The Heart of Robin Hood)
[Apparently I didn’t blog about Sherlock Holmes, sorry Sherlock!]
But anyway, seeing comedy was fun!
It was a good audience too. They were there for comedy and they laughed. In fact, they gafawed. They clapped in blackouts and after Vanya’s grand monologue (my favourite part of the play, such a massively long, yet fantastical speech. Vanya goes off on a rant about change and reading it I loved it but seeing it, it was performed so well. Steven Sutcliffe did it with such passion and range of emotion as Vanya remembered both the good and bad of the past). I think audiences make up such an important part of a play, you can feel an audience that isn’t with you and it makes everything harder, it’s like you’re physically dragging the audience along with you. This audience didn’t even need to be beckoned to they were there and they were along for the ride.
After the play there was a talkback too and the whole cast came out and answered some questions and stuff and it was very cool. It’s always fun to see them out of character after having seen them as this particular person for two hours. it was a good cast.
Overall, an unexpectedly pleasant surprise! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
(even though I didn’t get the Chekhov references!)