Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh, I hurt.

David Leong, a "Fight Master" with the Society of American Fight Directors, is the fight choreographer for SHENANDOAH. I first met David in1992, and he and I became much more familiar with each other later when Jenny and I lived in Richmond from 1999-2002 (David is head of the Theatre Dept. at Virginia Commonwealth U., where Jenny got her master's degree).

In today's SHENANDOAH rehearsal, we worked fights. All day. There's a big brawl in the middle of Act 1, involving about a dozen people, which we made some adjustments to and brought up to full speed, which took 2 hours. The prologue is a big number involving about 15 guys, and the second half of it, involving 9 of us, is a series of vignettes primarily involving stylistic, slow motion fights, Civil War style. This is in many ways more difficult than the regular stuff. We are fighting in slow-mo; and we're acting, so we're adding tension, dispair, anger; and we're making adjustments and rehearsing them and making more adjustments and rehearsing them. Oh, by the way, we're singing at the same time. We worked this number for 4 hours.

It is difficult to describe what this is like, but if you want a loose comparison, try this:
1) Stand up.
2) Bend your legs, so that your height drops by about 12 inches.
3) Hold out your arms so that they're parallel to the ground (we're using rifles during our fights).
4) Now, while in that position, sing "Amazing Grace."
5) Relax for a minute.
6) While jogging in place, sing the national anthem.
7) Relax a minute.
8) Repeat steps 1 - 7 for the next 4 hours.

If you try this, you may get a loose idea of how I feel right now. But I think you got off light.

Monday, February 27, 2006


And so it finally happens. Peter has a blog.

So -- I started rehearsing for a production of the musical SHENANDOAH at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. SHENANDOAH, for those of you who don't know, takes place in Virginia during the Civil War. I am portraying Sergeant Johnson, and "as cast." Sargeant Johnson is not a huge role, but it is a good one -- there's enough stuff to chew on to make it worthwhile.

Last fall, I was in a production of THE KILLER ANGELS (based on the book by Michael Shaara) at Wayside Theatre in Middletown, VA. KILLER ANGELS is about the Battle of Gettysburg, so once again I find myself in the Civil War era. I portrayed Confederate General Trimble, C Major Walter Taylor (RE Lee's aide de camp), and Union Brigadier General John Buford. Add to this that in the summer of '04 I portrayed General William Henry Harrison for the third time in the outdoor drama TECUMSEH!, which takes place in the late 1700's & early 1800's (up to and including part of the war of 1812), and I'm getting the impression that I have pegged the "1800's American soldier" type. I am becoming an expert on early American military by circumstance.

Oh, yeah, and did you catch that I'll be performing in Ford's Theatre? Yes, that Ford's Theatre, made famous with the help of Abe Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, and a pistol. The theatre vibrates with history.

So that's the impetus for starting the blog -- I want to tell people about this project and how it relates to previous ones.


But of course there's more. This blog is about whatever is on my brain. A lot of that has to do with career stuff. But there's some other good stuff --

I'm engaged, and the wedding is set for June. The other half of this equation is Jenny, and Jenny is wonderful, and beautiful, and smart, and . . . and . . . . Well, I'll be talking about her more in upcoming posts. In the meantime -- we're considering honeymooning in Belize or Brazil. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on that.

Also, there will be some news and commentary in this blog, but very little politics. There's more than enough of that out there. But there's some really cool stuff, too -- like the recent photos of the Giant Squid! Or the new species of rodent found in . . . was it Madagascar? And did you know that steroids makes hamsters excessively agressive?