It blows me away how little changes both in the dialogue and in how we are playing certain moments is making a big difference. The relationship between my daughter and me is way stronger and clearer and more fun to play. I am very excited about all this because, as I said last night in my last blog, repeating a performance has it’s dangers.

I’m already freaking because Moises will leave for New York a few days after we open to start rehearsals on “Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo” with Robin Williams. Freaking because I so love getting notes from him. It makes me feel secure.

I wonder how many times Richard will see the play. Maybe only opening night. But maybe more. I hope so. I can’t wait for his mother, Sylvia Perry, to come down from Oregon to see it. She is a music person. She is given credit for being the person who brought music into schools as her company makes musical instruments for schools. Richard says that there was a bust of Beethoven in his living room growing up. Sylvia will like this play because it is so much about the creation of music.

I chose my dressing room yesterday. It’s the same one Dolly Parton had when she was here with the musical “9 to 5”.. It’s fun to figure out ways to personalize these dressing rooms. I will put a Gee’s Bend quilt on the sofa which is where I sleep between shows on matinee days–with Tulea by my side. I will put the photo of me and my Dad back up on the mirror. It makes me feel good. I have a new perfumed candle a friend gave me for my birthday that will work. A bunch of wine glasses when there’s a time to entertain, and crackers and cheese. Tulea’s doggie bed and bowls. There will be a dog sitter who will look after her and take her out during the show. In NY she came on stage twice–fortunately both times were not DURING the show. Once she walked across the stage looking for me before the show started and got a round of applause. And once she wandered out during curtain call. I bent down to take a bow and saw her between my legs! That was a surprise and got a good laugh.

We start Rehearsing on stage next Sunday. It will be interesting seeing what it feels like to do the show in a much bigger theatre. The Eugene O’Neill was so cozy!! But, starting today and Friday and Saturday, we will run through the play from start to finish. I basically know the lines except for one small scene which I will now work on. We are on a Lunch break right now.

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  1. Hello Jane, that is interesting how well you feel about changes ,I understand that you have time to learn the dialogue. In my script I worked for month and it was all about change in dialogue and than you think it’s over ,done than the ideas come. In one scene I come up with a visual that was very funny that worked , in a coffee shop, with you and Marlee Matlin she drinks the Cafe’and has a Milk Mustache on her face. It worked in the scene because the young men walks in and see her holding your hand ,is now sure she must be gay. I was all visusl change and no dialogue. and I pull the end and with just a change that make things better by have the fight taken on cellphone by the girl friend in the school library and sent to you. That pull it all togeather with the newscast and just makes things clear and clean. Just a few words and small changes in a script can pull things close.

  2. I’m anticipating a wonderful evening of theatre, but am concerned about the size of the Ahmanson. The Taper is a better showcase for intimate theatre. Nevertheless, your presence makes it an event not to be missed.

  3. Dear jane~how interesting to keep discovering yet more layers to your character and that with your ‘daughter.’ Sorta like life, eh? I’m sure richard will be there for you as often as he can. I enjoy your eagerness to share what YOU do, YOUR art, with his mum. I’d be a nervous wreck! But then, YOU are the professional. I bet she will be as proud of you as if you were her daughter. Lovely hearing how you make your dressing room cozy and comfy and all yours. All best to you and ms tulsa. Xox m et lady b

  4. Hi Jane!

    First of all, you looked gorgeous on the Golden Globe Awards! I can’t believe you’re 73… you’re 63 and you’re just cheating on us 😀 You look amazing, and it’s not just your body or face… it’s the way you move, you’re so youthful!

    Okay, I’m just writing this to wish you good luck with the upcoming stage rehearsals.

    Btw, I live in Portugal, do you have plans to do stage in London? (it’s closer than LA or NY lol).

  5. Hi Jane

    Monster in Law was on German TV tonight and it was mentioned as ‘Pick of the day’ in our TV magazine. It was funny hearing you dubbed in German. I must say the dubbed voice was excellent. And I must say that Germany is fabulous at syncrhonising actors. Bette Midler’s voice is brilliant, so is Al Pacino’s et al. And so is yours. She was really, really funny. I’m not sure if it’s the same actress who dubbed your films before you took a break.

    Do you remember the story that Gregory Peck used to tell of the man who always dubbed his films in Italian? When GP visited Cinecita in Rome in the 80s (I think!) he met an Italian actor who asked him “How are you Mr Peck?” Gregory Peck answered that he was fine. “but how are you really Mr Peck?” the Italian asked. Gregory Peck “I’m fine”. “But how are you REALLY, Mr Peck? the Italian insisted. After a while Gregory Peck asked him what it was all about. “Well” answered the Italian “I have been your Italian voice for about 25 years and I just want to know if you’re well and if I’ve got another few years of work ahead of me.”

    Very good.

    Anyway, we had a good laugh at the film tonight. By the way, seeing that you speak French, do you dub your own movies in French? I know Arnold Schwarzenegger’s does his own dubbing into German.

    Take care

    • Jason, I used to dub my films (and workout videos) in French. No more. Time is scare !

  6. When I saw the first production of the play in NYC, what struck me was the difference in voice style between yourself and the other stage actors, who used more of a theatrical acting style as opposed to your film style of acting. To me the theatrical style seems a bit obsolete given that everyone now ears a microphone, so it just sounds loudly artificial, and stiff, or like overacting for stage exaggeration. I think it would be more interesting to bring it closer to film style and make it so that they do not have to shout there lines. The microphone volume could be adjusted to make the voices more resonant at a lower acting voice volume, with more emphasis on the lower tones, which would resonate more and make the play more natural, more intimate, particularly dealing with the subject as it does.

    The other major improvement that could be made is to make it pure drama instead of a mix of drama and comedy. Comedy ruins a good dramatic performance, particularly one dealing with a serious life tragedy and subtracts from the more subtle and interesting aspects of the characters and their relations. This, in my opinion, is why the play was not really well written the first time and did not get really great reviews as I recall.

    A play can still have subtle irony in it without falling into the trap of not really taking itself seriously. What is important is that the actors do take themselves seriously in character, and not act like they are acting, which always happens in joke lines, even if they are intended as subtly funny. It is not the actor that brings out the irony but the play itself, the story.

    I you look at the ratings of movies on Netflix, you see that comedies have on average much lower viewer ratings than dramas. Why is this? I think it is because it is much harder to make a comedy than a pure drama. It is also true that injecting comedy into drama to enhance it, or to save it, is counterproductive.

    I suppose one could make a comedy about death and dying, but then it would have to have an entirely different philosophical bent, and it would have to be internally consistent.

    • Lacey, we had no micas in NY tho may need in the much bigger theatre out here. I don’t agree about mix!(

  7. Hi Jane: I tried to upload a picture of myself but no luck.

    Good luck with the play…I’m here in Chicago but sure wish I could see your new play. I’m sure it will be fabulous.

    LSS (long story short) just used your new workout DVD and I loved it. I am 65 on oxygen and I believe in working out as well as nutritional healing (or mind-body-spirit healing as my therapist says. I have lung fibrosis. I’m so happy to find a workout on a chair. Just wanted you to know. I really identify with your life’s journey. All the best to you..XO

  8. I enjoy your blog very much, Jane.

    Every time I read one of your comments about working with Samantha Mathis, it reminds me of how much I enjoyed her mother’s work. I was a big fan of hers and so saddened by her death at such a young age.

  9. Just bought my tickets for “33 Variations” today!! Cannot wait to see you grace the Ahmanson stage on February 2nd!! Best wishes during the rehearsal process!

  10. Dear Ms Fonda –

    I flew from LA to NY to see you in this play. Your performance was one of the most heartbreaking I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many). It takes a lot for me to make the trek for a single performance. “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” Bernadette Peters in “A Little Night Music” come to mind.

    While I cannot wait to see it here in LA (especially with the changes you are blogging/noting), I do wish it was playing at the Taper and not the Ahmanson. The intimacy of the Taper and the intimacy of “Variations” are very much in sync.

    My hope for you is that the intimacy and subtlety of your sublime performance is not lost in the cavernous theater that is the Ahmanson. Please make sure they get the sound correct. So often at that theater, the amplification is such that there is no link to what you are hearing and what portion of the stage it originates.

    I send this with much love and respect to you and your family from me and mine.


  11. In the New York Theater there were microphones in the floor in a ring around the front of the stage, so it was still necessary to project one’s voice, but it was being amplified in that way. Some people sounded louder than others and your voice came out the softest. I have been to some plays where each individual has their own headset mic, battery operated, as where there is no well defined stage area or low budget. So it probably has to do with how each theater is set up. I can see that wearing a mic with battery pack in back would be an encumbrance, particularly if the headset is visible. I think maybe a good clip-on mic would equalize things better, but then the cast would have to get used to that style in rehearsal.

    Sorry about the negative comments regarding comedy. Sure you can mix it in, as this play does. It is just that comedy is one of the more tricky areas to do any way you do it. I just wanted to give you some objective advice to help you improve the play (advice is never entirely objective of course but influenced by individual perceptions and artistic bias).

    I should point out that the New York audience really loved your performance and the play itself, giving one or more standing ovations, even during the intermission the time I was there.

  12. This post was especially fascinating because I just watched All About Eve on TV tonight. That scene where Eve makes a point of mentioning that she has made new curtains for Margo’s dressing room. Best I could tell, she was referring to a “curtain” for the dressing table.

    Your dressing room will sure outclass the one in the movie!

    I live in Oregon and have neighbors who play in the local high school band (my husband and I attend their concerts). Nice to think that their passion has a tie to the lovely Sylvia.

  13. and all i can think is WOW
    you have a Gee’s Bend Quilt!

    want to post a picture of it? a squillion textile buffs will be keen to see it

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