Results tagged “Charles Mee” from ARTicles

ImageProxy.mvc.jpegAnne Bogart's newest work "Cafe Variations" is a theatrical and dance meditation on texts by playwright Charles Mee. The work is essentially about romantic relationships, how they blossom, fracture, repair or perish. Although "Café" is an ensemble work, combining Bogart's SITI Company actors and Emerson College students, Ellen Lauren, a longtime member of SITI, has one of the primary roles, if not one of the most demanding theatrical roles. She plays "Edith A," the type of character who could have sprung from the minds of Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin. But this one is pure Lauren. Opposite Leon Ingulsrud, Lauren is brassy, bossy, bitchy and ultimately very sympathetic. She is surrounded by a "Mad Men" elegance with the young actresses onstage and yet her elegance - the elegance of comedy - is writ large. "Directing Ellen is like driving a Rolls Royce," said Bogart. "She has smooth gears and can do things that most others cannot. Working with her is a constant lesson in what acting for the stage can encompass. ArtsEmerson presented the world premiere of "Cafe" last week at the Cutler Majestic in Boston, where it continues through Sunday, April 22. The following is an edited and condensed interview with Lauren about developing a character, telling stories onstage and being funny. 

How do you know in your body when a movement is a funny movement? 
It's a combination of experience, my own personal taste and intuition. I tend to work very intuitively when I develop a role. I made a decision with "Cafe Variations" to work very quickly and not agonize. I knew from bits of information in the text that I could jump on and highlight. I immediately got an image of somebody. It came very quickly to me. I did not have an image of the physical broadness of the performance until I got inside this character and got to play around. 

Can you feel it in your body physically when you slunk your shoulders or sit aggressively in your dress that you're being funny? 
Those are little revelations of my own inner insecurities or my looking at myself and highlighting and amplifying a quality. If that goes south, you feel like crap about yourself. If I have puny shoulders and I blow that up into a cartoon, I'm not putting out something funny. I'm putting out something that makes me feel incredibly self-conscious. And how can I compete with the pretty girls on the stage? I'm not going to. I'm going to say to the audience: "This is how I feel up here next to a gorgeous sophomore." And what fun? What fun to be able to use my own resources and insecurities that way. I think that's what people are generally drawing on when they are funny. 

What happens inside of you to see your character's qualities? 
It's a rhythm thing. I read the text, and I can see it immediately on the page. The sentences are short. The words are one syllable. They're demonstrative. They're active. This is a real alpha person. A lot of the sentences begin as verbs. She tends to play it as it lays. She's bossy. Doesn't brook any shit from anyone. This came off the page very quickly to me. That's what I didn't second guess. I pick up a scent, and I try not to worry. Often to my detriment. But when you make work quickly, you learn to go with the thing. 
April 20, 2012 8:29 AM |


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