The Aesthetic Experience

Recently I was at The Globe. Yes, I know it’s a reconstruction, (actually I visited the carpark of the actual location as well!) truth is I am ready to give a standing ovation at any time to this fact as Sam Wanamaker is now my personal hero for all his hard work and patience on the matter of reconstruction. Visiting The Globe was a milestone in my life and I definitely will never forget it. 

Taking in the wonder that is living history, at The Globe in London England, 2014
Taking in the wonder that is living history, at The Globe in London England, 2014

The new theatre with Wanamaker’s name is unlike anything I had ever seen. I have read books, written term papers, watched movies, and seen plays ABOUT the time period (Jacobean in this case) but never had I been in a living history museum to one. Because truly that is what both theatres are: triumphs in preservation that people can now participate IN history rather than just witness it in books and pictures.

Inside the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse  photo by Pete Le May
Inside the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
photo by Pete Le May

The Globe iss in off season until the weather shifts to a more comfortable temperature – so my friends and I booked tickets to Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for The Knight of the Burning Pestle which turned out to be the perfect fit for us. It was exactly the right amount of historical nods: to entertainment: to experience. The groundling heckling, the archetypes, the space itself! Oh the space itself! It was all candle lit! No electricity!

We stood, yes stood, in the Lord’s Box which is to the immediate house left of the stage. We were basically on top of the stage, right by the balcony of musicians. (You can see it there in the picture ->) I didn’t even mind standing for 3 hours! I was so engaged by the space, the actors, the story – all of it was, in fact, overwhelming me.

I started to cry. I had a body rush of adrenaline and I wanted to laugh but I cried instead. I was having an aesthetic experience right there at the first intermission of Knight of the Burning Pestle. My friends laughed, half jokingly, at me for doing so – but I can’t blame them. It’s hard to explain what I was feeling.

Aesthetic Experience is “…a sense of being both an observer as well as a participant, a sense of being both detached and yet involved. A sense of timelessness in the event often occurs, and time is expressed as being either compressed or dissolved; that is, it is described as being extremely focused in a moment or a person or a place, while at other times it opens out and expands into a sense of the infinite, the limitless in scope or space…often a peculiarly heightened sense of wonder, elation, or awe accompanied by a fresh awakening to the sense of one’s smallness in the face of the vastness, the limitlessness…an experience involves often a sense bordering on delight.

-http://www.collaboration.org/98/spring/text/08.aesthetic.html
Me at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, post cry
Me at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, post cry/AE

I remember when I was in high school when my art teacher, Mr. Craig, was trying to explain to me what an aesthetic experience (AE) was. Technically this experience is “your personal interaction with a work of art.” He tried to explain to me that when I have that almost black out feeling, that body shiver, that catch of breath in my throat when I see theatre – that THAT is an aesthetic experience. My body is reacting to the art. I seldom get a full AE from visual arts, I sometimes get it from music, but the most intense ones are from theatre. I always felt silly for them when I was a kid, not understanding that the knot in my stomach from watching shows at the Pantages Theatre combined with the giddy feeling I was having – I just thought I was the crazy little redhead everyone told me I was (I was a bit high strung as a kid, gee that’s a surprize.) But that intense bodily response was a connection to the show, the actors, the theatre, the audience, the WHOLE experience. I was having an AE. It started when I was 7 and I saw The Phantom of the Opera. What a show to throw me! That show was built to give you an AE: everything was over the top beautiful.

And so I was hooked. I remember walking out of the theatre and beaming up at my mom saying “I want to be Christine Daee!” and my mom saying “Oh, hunny, you can’t be Christine, she’s not real. She’s an actress.”

And so here we are. The reason I’m an actor is because I’m an AE addict. I want to GIVE that feeling to people. I want you to feel that connection with art. I want you to have that feeling: that body buzz when the curtain opens; that head rush of joy when the sword fight is flawless; that stomach ache as the ingénue pleas for her life; THAT feeling. That is what I crave every time I step into a theatre.

A month in a day

This past weekend I feel like I have lived a month in a single day. Or, I guess, counting the fact that I did two different shows in two days, it should be a month in 48 hours…

IMG_0398On Friday at 9 am I did my one-woman show for the Durham School Board, District 13 to be precise.

With 37 teachers representing several different schools I was more than a little nervous to do this show for THE FIRST TIME IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE. And a very important audience at that. I was presenting to them on their themed PD DAY event about Mental Health Awareness with the hopes that if they liked what they saw they would invite me to their school to present my show.

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<– The talented Dwayne Harmer made these awesome teacher’s info sheets. And then it was time to do the show….

 

 

 

AND THEY LOVED IT!

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^ That comment card above made my heart swell, much like the Grinch, to 3x it’s size. I knew after the presentation that I had something. I had a story to share. That Andrew’s story was to be shared. It felt great to be able to do that. One teacher asked if I could do the show next week! HA! I hope my team can follow up and start a tour soon, but that may be too soon! But just to be safe, I quickly went on an epic journey to purchase a projector for the awesome projections in my show. I nicknamed it “Princess” because Dwayne and I were laughing about the fact that it did turn into a quest not unlike the quest of rescuing Princess Peach in the Mario Bros videogames. The projector/Princess was always “in a different castle” (or store) and we had to keep moving onwards! So when we finally found one it was rightfully named Princess 😉

Then that evening I had the pleasure of escorting my very talented boyfriend, Jason Martorino, to the private screening of his horror flick “Kingdom Come” which was AMAZING! Sometimes it’s easy to get swallowed up by one’s own projects – but I am so very lucky to have Jason who is supportive of my work and I his. It was great to be his plus one and witness his hard work on screen. So great. And so great that he helped me out on my project as he was my Sound Operator for my PD Day presentation.

Next up on Saturday was Drunk Macbeth – with only 2 rehearsals (including the day of: 12 pm start and I left at 11:30 pm…) it was nerve wracking up until we took the stage at 8 pm. Get this, we SOLD OUT and had a rush line that we ended up turning away! The best part? Wearing Scottish attire:

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I was given such great compliments for my Lennox/Second Witch roles! My fav was that I was such a “badass goddess” with my dirk and tartan 🙂 Yup. That made my day.

So after this weekend, of which I did a month of prep for production wise (please visit the website I designed www.everythingbutthecat.net and enjoy the twitter feed of @Urban_Bard from the show night and @EverythingCatTO because they were curated by me!), and acting wise (holy jeeze a 45 minute monologue of a show, and then remembering my iambic pentameter…oy.) Ach mon to be more in theme 😉

So you will excuse me if I fall in a heap as my brain/heart/limbs are all exhausted from this weekend. And thank you to everyone that helped me get here. After a nap, or two, I will get back to making the tour happen!

 

 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

This weekend I will test myself in many ways.

Tomorrow I am presenting Everything But the Cat… to a group of teachers on their PA Day Mental Health Event. They pre-registered for my show and an info/talk-back session with myself and Dwayne Harmer, the author of “The Kit” (which is the resource for my workshop for the audience).  The idea is to get the word out that we are open for business and bookings! We will start bookings in May 2014 for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13-19). This will allow us more time to update our performance to the best of our abilities: new shadow actors, better quality voice overs, slick workshop design… All because we look forward to touring high schools. So fingers crossed we get some interest tomorrow!

Then on Saturday night it’s Drunk Macbeth where we have had 1.2 rehearsals for this show! This will be a bit “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of show and it should prove hilarious! I play Second Witch and Lennox.

So here’s hoping for smooth sailing – see you on the other side of this scary/thrilling/nauseating/exciting/challenging weekend!