I have gone through much of my Iife thinking that things are best, most enticing and exciting, when they are fresh and new. I always thought my best work as an actress was at the first blush. I never have wanted to shoot scenes over and over because I always felt my very first go at it was usually the best. In fact, as a starting- out actor, sometimes I felt I peaked in the audition and never got better.
I will have to admit I have had the same sense within personal relations– they would peak early and tend not to grow and deepen.
So these last 2 months of performing the play “33 Variations,” has been a revelation. I did the play 2 years ago for almost 5 months on Broadway and then we reprised it in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre for 6 weeks. I went into this experience wondering what it would be like to do something I had done for so long for a 2nd time.
I have been stunned at the extent to which my entrance into my character, the musicologist Dr Katherine Brandt, deepened over the last weeks. I cannot entirely put words to it except to say that I inhabited her in way I had not in New York. She was in my bones. Little things could go wrong as they invariably do, but the core, the DNA of her inside me was there, solid, comfortable, and continuing to grow right to the last night. I know it is the most basic of acting realities: you don’t think about how to say a line, you just become totally present in the moment and allow it to happen…and it doesn’t always happen in exactly the same way each night. Of course, you have to have become deeply familiar with the character before this can happen. I was in many ways, deeply familiar with Dr Brandt during the NY run but there were some scenes that I never felt I could wrap myself around. In the last week or two (and with generous input from some of my co-actors, Susan Kellerman, in particular) these actually became the scenes i most looked forward to. And other scenes that i was sure i “got” in NY, i discovered whole new aspects to. What a fascinating thrill for me.
I am astonished by this. I can bring myself back to how I played her in New York, what I felt and thought as I played her, and I can feel how much less personal and resonant it was.
This has been a huge learning experience for me and I know it won’t be the last.