Field Trip

Rehearsals have been remarkable! As I have posted before, this is my first time being on the other side of the table, the first time I have sat through the gruelling decisions steeped in auditions, call backs and now rehearsals; helping guide the vision of the playwright. It’s quite the change for me, and there are times watching this company of players, where I am so invested in what they are doing, I want to leap up on the stage and work with them as an actor. I wonder how actor/directors are able to do that? It’s something that I am continuing to look into, as directing becomes more and more a challenge I am interested and frightened to take. These are very gifted artist’s and watching them discover new elements in themselves, the script and the world we have made together is that of watching  an orchid fully bloom. It is quite simply astonishing.

Last night’s rehearsal was no different.  In applying our mission to every show we produce, every actor really becomes aware of language and how the emotional truth is set for us in trusting what the text provides us with. Last night , some amazing choices were made due to  trusting what Rebecca Gilman has written.  Now, there is always something we actors do that helps us grasp a deeper understanding of what these characters experience and that is investigation of behaviour that may or may not be a part of who we are as  individuals. So, we took an inspired Field Trip to the Admiral Club to further our understanding of what these two girls, Sandy & Heather go through on a daily basis, being hookers.

Now this is not to say that the ladies who work the stage of the Admiral Club are to be equated with prostitution, but the sense of a “Fantasy” world, a surreal existence in which women strip to Full Monty and bump up and down among the men in the audience and for money can be safely accessed.

 The Admiral is unlike many strip clubs. It’s furnished like a grand cabaret theatre of the fifties, very posh decor, mood lighting, and “body guards” surrounding the place dressed to the nines. There is an element of privilege almost. Everyone is cordial and welcoming and yet the clientele are as varied as college frat boys, businessmen, you’re Joe Six-Packs, and the group of us actors doing research on this Field Trip.

Throughout the house there are ladies clad in their stockings and such, offering up and giving lap dances. Every now and again we saw one of these dames taking her customer to a back room area, and there is a performer on the stage. There is a lot of action going on and all of it is flirtation. We had two lovely ladies, Natalie and Valarie, approach us and start up some friendly conversation. A bit flirtatious. A bit provocative. A bit interested. And then, you’re hit with the bottom line: How would you like a dance?

There are two scenes in the play that go through this exact break down. A little friendly chit-chat to warm up the customer and then pleasantly, dropping all guard and dropping the act, getting to the point: So, what do you want to do?

Both of these girls were very good at their work. Both times they spoke directly to Sasha & Laura, while having some kind of direct physical contact with me, but not looking at me or speaking to me. There was the occasional smile and checking in on me, but there wasn’t any inclusion. Not until both Sasha and Laura turned down the offer of a dance, then I was all they wanted. And why not? My red hair is gorgeous, and red heads are a dying breed so this just very well may be the last Chance that Natalie and Valarie have to give a lap dance to a dapper little gent with red hair like myself.

All of it though was brilliantly exercised. There is the approach to the two people who don’t pose a threat, and who are easier to talk to. Follow all of that with the direct approach to me. All of it is a build up to courting us and to make us feel comfortable with the fact that a more than half-naked woman is standing before us, and then in a moment will be completely fully nude.

We were wondering, when they were on stage what they think about? Grocery listing, their day tomorrow, politics, what shade of green works best? This was a genuine interest. What does one think about when performing like this, knowing that a room of people are watching with dirty thoughts, clean thoughts, maybe one of the guys in that audience has a vision of falling in love with one of these strippers, and he saves her from this life of exploitation and they run off into the snow covered streets of Chicago, hand in hand together for always?

No insight was given on this, except for Valarie. She had asked us how we all knew each other, was this our first time to a strip club, what did we do, etc..?

“We are actually doing a show together.” “Really!? What kind of show?” ” A Play. Theatre.” “Do you guys ever do comedy?” ” Sometimes.” ” I do comedy too.” 

This  piqued our interest; was it possible that this could be one of our very own thespians? A member of the club?

“You do? Where?” “Here.” “You must have a lot of fun with it.” “Oh yeah. I get to mess around with people’s heads. It’s lots of fun. How do you feel about a dance?”

Right when we thought we had a connection, the bottom line smacks you bacross the face. At least she had a great sense of humor.

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One Response

  1. I can’t believe I missed this field trip. Or, more importantly, that no one took pictures.

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