On Acting And Finding a Character

 Image from the novella cover

Image from the novella cover

In October I was cast in a show that opens this week at Strike Theater (Get Thee Behind Me Santa: The Musical!). I've been performing, writing, directing, stage managing, and doing some acting since 2012. Of these I've had the least number of opportunities to act. In scripted shows this will be my second ever role on stage. It's thrilling and daunting at the same time.

As someone who is typically on the production side of creating theater I don't always think of the process actors go through to find a character. As a writer you have a strong idea of the character when you are putting it on the page. As a director your job is to help the actor find the character you want to see on stage. And finally actors have to find that character in their own way. When it works you have this wonderful collaboration of a writer's words, director’s vision, and actor's skill. If a performance is off one or all of these things doesn't work. When you think about this elaborate game of spinning plates it makes wonderful theater all that more impressive, and any theater an accomplishment.

My own journey to find the character I'm playing has been the most challenging experience of my acting journey. The character is a “soft-boiled” detective; gritty, serious, and too fond of drink. The character shares very little of my own personality and behavior so I really have to act my butt off to make it work. The biggest challenge has been toning down my own goofiness while playing the character. The play is a comedy and I find myself going to goofy as a default or a defense. It feels comfortable and natural for me, but it doesn't work for the character. This fight against my own natural inclinations of personality is the very core of acting. Denying your true self to become someone else.

I wrote this as during the last few days of rehearsal I find myself finally finding the character and become comfortable in someone else's skin. It's a process I've enjoyed and given me better perspective on the process of creating a play. At the end of it, there will be a show everyone involved is proud of. My journey has been greatly helped by a director has guided me through the process and a talented cast of actors who have let me play of their characters to tell this story. I know this process has taught me a ton and I will come out the other side a better actor, writer, and director thanks to the experience.

Get Thee Behind Me Santa: The Musical! opens Thursday, November 29th at the Strike Theater. Based on the comic fantasy novella by humorist and internationally touring storyteller phillip andrew bennett low, adapted for the stage by playwright Joey Hamburger of Sheep Theater (Best Theater Troupe, City Pages 2018), featuring original songs by Pablo Jones, and directed by Derek Dirlam of the Condundrum Collective. Also featuring Jim Christianson, Kyle Dekker, Theo Ebarb, Al Fiene, Kirstin Nelson, and Jennifer Rathsack!


Therm Scissorpunch - A Star Wars Poem

A Star Wars poem by Kyle B. Dekker

 

We were at a cantina

Bib’s leku fell in the deep

A thing reached in and grabbed it

It was a Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

 

We were at the Pit of Carkoon

Every had matching X-38’s

Somebody went under a sail barge

And their they saw a Thermador

It wasn’t a thermador

It was a Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

A disgrace at the podrace

His engine cord broke

Lot’s of trouble

Lot’s of rubble

He was is a fit

Sitting in a cockpit

Therm, therm

Therm Scissorpunch

At Denny’s, At Denny’s

Punch scissors

Punch scissors

Let’s Scissorpunch

Farmboys in gold bikinis

Girls in airspeeders

Everybody’s a whiz

Everybody plays som some jizz

Twistin round the trapdoor

Jabba’s fun

Rancor eating

Rancor has em on the run

Put on chestguard

Put on the Imperial Guard

Pass the blue milk

Here comes the Jawa

There goes the Bantha

In walked a Quarren

There goes a Twi-Lek

Chased by an Ewok

In flew a Genosisan

Watch out for that Wookie

There goes a Sullustan

Here come a Wampa!

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

Therm Scissorpunch

therm-scissorpunch-topps-trading-card-dennys-solo-a-star-wars-story.jpg

Interludes - Unexpected and Amazing

Note: This blog section of HCM is the personal writings of Kyle B. Dekker, HCM's Executive Producer. If you have any questions or comments please email kyle@hotchocolatemedia.net. 

Interludes - A Review

 

Interludes.jpg

For the last three years I've been performing and watching more and more improv. Before 2014 it was just something I knew existed but never participated in or really watched. Since 2014, I've fallen in love with the art form and try to consume it as much as I can, either on stage or in an audience. When you dive into an art form like this you notice trends, recurring themes, and styles. In this environment when you see something that stands out you take notice. Interludes is just the kind of show that does that and it does it in a way I've never seen before. I'm still processing what I saw this past Saturday night, but it's nothing short of compelling.

The brainchild of Denzel Belin, Interludes is a wonderful blend of long form improv, music, and avant-garde storytelling. The cast of eight opened the show with an acapella chorus based on the audience suggestion of a hockey stick. The improvised bit of music ofplayed with the sounds of hockey from the cast was strangely beautiful and funny. Most importantly it set the tone for the rest of the show. The improv apcapella orchestra informed the audience that things were going to get weird in the best way possible. 

The rest of the show was a series of two to three person scenes that the cast cut together beautifully. The cuts from scene to scene were so smooth and elegant they felt rehearsed and natural, the instincts to edit from the cast were impeccable. The true highlight and magic from the show came from the interludes themselves. During each scene one of the eight cast members on the back line could ring a bell (two on the stage, one in the back of the theater) and a musical interlude highlighting the inner thoughts and motivations of the characters in the scene. The format borrows a little DNA from the short form game "Narration" but on a much more surreal, musical, and artistic note. Once again the instincts and ideas from the cast in these interludes were fantastic. It often got strange, but the interludes always served the scenes, and added an element of humor and music I've never seen in an improv show. The best part was that the cast bought into this format the whole time, you never doubted their commitment to the format or their willingness make a scene pop. At times when an interlude of scene decision from one of the cast didn't click right away, the other cast members never let them flounder, they were right there behind them making goofy yet beautiful noises to support each other. Supportive and cooperative scene building at its best, you can tell the team worked hard to gel together and make it all work.

Every once in a while I foolishly think I have improv figured out. I feel like I understand the beats, the rhythm, and the teamwork. I have a moment, where I think "I've got this, I know exactly what I'm doing." Then something like Interludes comes along and I'm delightfully reminded that improv is an art form with no boundaries, and there are people who keep expanding what it can do. Interludes is a show that does just that, and reminded me I will never stop learning or being surprised by improv, and that is beautiful.

The show has been part of HUGE Theater's Saturday night lineup. They have one more show this Saturday, October 28th. You owe it to yourself to go see it, it is a must see for anyone who enjoys improv. This is something that has to been seen to believe.