FRED @ Fringe Update #10
From the Director…
It’s interesting what visuals can do.
Bethany Griffiths took the initiative to search out her costume, one of the most fun visual cues in Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning.
It’s been weeks since she found the perfect dress, which got my complete blessing—though it would have been a major battle to convince her otherwise had I not approved of the costume choice. So attached is she, it wasn’t long until Bethany confirmed that she would be keeping the costume once the show is well and truly over.
There was also something special in seeing the transformation in her performance during the first rehearsal in which she adorned the dress: Bethany understood her character in a way that she hadn’t before.
What was challenging in creating a character who is only known as the Bride is that my imagination allowed me to go anywhere with her backstory, which also feeds into her motivations, both of which are essential to her personal narrative and developmental arc. But the manner in which Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning is being brought to the stage dictates that the cast have far more agency to express their characters than what they perhaps first imagined; since they are sticking to the script, there is minimal room for improvisation. What this means is that Bethany’s interpretation of the Bride, her backstory, and motivations might be completely different to mine.
No doubt, Bethany knows the character’s real name. So do I. We’re not telling one another. This adds to the fun of workshopping and rehearsing scenes that involve the Bride, and Bethany is teaching me more about the character. During the auditions for Phillip months ago, one of the actors exclaimed, ‘Who is this woman?’ I replied with a smirk, ‘Exactly.’ Bethany understands this about the Bride.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give an actor—and, by extension, the whole show—is the freedom to explore the realms of their character’s potential. But the actor has to accept it.
Someone who has had no problems with this is Ben Campbell. Portraying Michael’s swindling, albeit loveable, younger brother Blaine, Ben has engaged with Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning with immense energy. The role is not without its challenges, but Ben is a good sport. I have had the pleasure of directing him for a handful of UNI-Bums episodes and, currently serving as one of the online series’ producers, see that his enthusiasm for performing and developing his craft continues to grow.
In fact, I have always seen Ben and Bethany interact with one another as though they were siblings. They’re quick to poke fun of or snap at one another. Because of this, the challenge for them as friends, performers, and colleagues is to interact with one another on stage in a manner that they would not normally do. They have met this challenge head-on and it’s wonderful to see how far they are willing to push their characters, as well as themselves.
Visual cues are helpful to the crew as well.
Producer/stage manager Fulya Kantarmaci and I stood at Gasworks Theatre not too long ago, discussing, debating, and measuring a number of elements of the performance space. I took a step back and looked at nine rows of empty seats and the thought of an audience looking over at our cast overwhelmed me. Fulya and I then climbed up to the ninth row and smiled at the empty stage. What our audience will experience when the space is full of set pieces, props, and a cast of eight talented actors excited us.
In less than two months time, a number of visual cues and boundless energy will come together when Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning has its world premiere!
To find out more, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And of course, feel free to explore FREDtheALIENproductions.com for the latest on Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning.