An actor’s thoughts on rehearsing ART!

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Memorizing…memorizing…sheesh. ART is a wonderful script, but there’s so much difficult dialogue. My head aches from all the subtle shifts in tone, sudden bursts of anger, wit, and constant references to obscure thinkers and obscure thinking.

Three friends argue over one’s purchase of a painting- the ART of the title. It’s just a white square. But, it’s by a very fashionable artist. So is it art?

It’s very funny. It’s “Frasier,” but a bit more realistic, and thicker with thought. Except for my role, Ivan. Ivan isn’t thinking quite as hard, so he could actually be seeing things more clearly, if he wasn’t so close to it all. Ivan just wants everyone to be happy, so he doesn’t want to say some things that his friends Marc and Serge may need to hear.

Plus he’s getting married in two weeks, apparently to bridezilla, and has to deal with that, which causes him, in his frustration, to spout a long monologue of all that’s going wrong. Which I’m trying to get memorized. It’s 3 and a half script pages. Sheesh. At least I get to have some physical comedy, too.

Our director, Tony, knows how to get the most out of rehearsals. We discuss the subtleties and the farcities (spellcheck tells me that’s not a word, but I like it anyway), how to make sure the audiences hears and understands everything and sees everything- which gets tricky on the Williamston Theater stage sometimes, since there is audience on three sides, so your back is to one side or another a lot of the time- and the complicated dynamics of these 3 guys and their friendship.

I’m in fast company onstage: Paul Hopper and John Lepard are extremely good actors, very well known in the Detroit area professional theater circles. I am a little daunted at times, despite how very friendly and helpful they are. I love watching them act- and joining in. Ivan gets to be much more emotional than their more pedantic characters and it’s fun to be a counterpoint to them, since it avoids comparison while enriching the emotional message- if ya know what I mean. Geez, this “Arty” stuff is wearing off on me.

It’s a funny show that let’s you enjoy thinking a little about the silliness of some art and literature fanatics (what really is the difference between a “trekkie” nerd and an art lover, but the area of fanaticism?) and thinking about how friends really connect to each other and how crazy that can be.

-Bruce Bennett

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