I think it’s pretty safe to say none of us knew what were getting ourselves into when we first auditioned for the Laramie project. What I find sort of interesting is that, I don’t think I’ve felt as close to the Aaron Kreifels monologue since the first time I read it at the audition, until two days ago.
It’s interesting how the more you work at something and the better you get at knowing the text, the further you can get from actually feeling it. After some point it almost felt like I was just reading lines off the script, except since we were off book, I was just reading lines off my head. I was starting to get somewhat frustrated at my inability to connect with the script but this past weekend something hit me. I have no idea how or why but when I was indulging my pre-sleep routine of putting on a random episode from a not so random show, I looked over and the Angels in America pamphlet caught my eye. I was going to leave this part out but I feel it adds a certain veracity to my recount – before any other thoughts transpired, I found myself mouthing the moment: Aingels in Americaw in the pseudo-British/Jamaican/South African fashion that Kimmi so often does. Anyway, for some reason I was reminded of that day where I spent seven hours at playmakers wondering how on earth they managed something like that and specifically, I remembered Matt Carlson’s (Prior) comment: “try to rediscover the words each and every night”.
Even then it struck me as an interesting point but I never really tried to understand with my heart what I already knew in my mind. So at Sunday’s rehearsal that’s exactly what I set out to do. Instead of listening to a story that I knew like the back of my hand, I listened to a story that I knew nothing about. I tried listening to Doc and Jedadiah and Romaine and even Aaron. At one point Jeff thought I dozed off when actually, I was trying to rediscover (clumsily no doubt) what it was that I did in the play – hence the flub. I heard my cue line but for some reason I raced to keep up with what my mind was processing, primarily because I was trying to un-process those same thoughts. Good thing that was a rehearsal.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think I’ve ever really pushed myself this hard at acting, and maybe at a lot of other things in my life. Acting in high school was always about playing a character; learning to be the character with a touch of the genuine. In trying to play all these characters in the Laramie project I have been forced to look at myself. To figure out the guy I haven’t figured out how to play for the last twenty-one years. I don’t know if that’s done yet but it has definitely come some distance these past few months.
With one day left to opening night this is an odd thing to say, but I’m going to try and fully unlearn The Laramie Project.
My only hope is that I rediscover it each and every night.
– Ashok Palaniappan