Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who is Sammii?

We were finally able to have our table read for Proposals on Saturday. I’m even more excited about the show than I was before. The cast is great. Table reads are one of my favorite tools. It’s the first time I give a voice to the character. And even though I don’t have any idea yet who she is really and what it is she wants when I go just hearing the voices of the other characters gives me a pretty good idea of who she is and how she fits in by listening and knowing who she is not. It looks like its going to be a lot of fun.

My schedule in the beginning is unbelievably light. I can’t remember the last time I had such a small part. I am so excited it about it because with the light schedule I’ll have more time to do outside rehearsal thinking and development work. Usually I only have time to discover things in rehearsal because out of the studio all my time is spent learning the lines and doing some really cerebral work.

I already have some thoughts about Sammii. As someone who was trained as a dancer I always start with the physical attributes of the character. What she looks like. But, you ask, doesn’t she look like you? And the answer is no. In my head the character always looks like someone else entirely. I’ve told that to other actors and to directors and they always seem confused by that tactic. But I’m very used to looking at myself from the outside as though I do not inhabit my body except as a tool so why shouldn’t I feel that I am inhabiting a very different mantle? So back to Sammii. She is rounder than me. More cutesy. Like a Renee Zellweger. Wholesome. She is definitely blond. Very blond. She wears pastel make-up. Pink lipstick, pink round cheeks, pink sports length nails. She has blue eyes. She wears soft clothing. Chiffons and silks in pastels. Never black. Her favorite color is a very soft blue. She wears very high strappy heels. And small earrings. Her clothes would be conservative but everything is a shorter and a lower cut than a modest woman would wear.

So from that what do I think I know? She grew up in Alleman, Iowa population 239. She was a cheerleader and homecoming queen. She came to New York with the money she won for being the Corn Kernel Queen. She isn’t shy because she can’t imagine that anyone doesn’t like her. She has an image of herself in her head of always being in soft focus like her favorite movie stars. And she floats when she walks always slightly on the balls of her feet like she is going to start skipping at any moment. She flings herself into sexual relationships but isn’t serious about any of the men. They are pretty accessories. Like a nice purse and it makes her feel sophisticated to have the kind of relationships with men she could never have back home. She lives in a world where she stars in the film that is her life and the things she says are pithy dialog. She poses for the cameras she sees everywhere but is completely unselfconscious when not posing. She swings between child like and too too terribly chic.

Of course many of these images will change and evolve over time. And of course some are contradictory so as I work I’ll have to keep some and throw some away. But basically I’m starting with a sweet farm girl who is trying very hard to be Marilyn Monroe and falling short. I’m interested to see where that goes.

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