Tuesday, December 24, 2013
On November 15th I went to 2 rehearsal of "Solos", a play written by Joseph Reed Hayes at the Sandler Training Center (650 S. Northlake Blvd., Suite 430 Altamonte Springs Fl.) The production was part of Joseph's 13 in 13 challenge, to produce 13 productions in 2013. Though the bar was set high, it seems that Joseph has completed every production he planned at the beginning of the year.
This is how Joseph describes this original play about Ben "Blues" Miller and his wife Ellie..."My play, Solos, is nothing less than the history of jazz in America, as told through the relationship of two people, in three movements and a coda. Ellie’s story is a symphony: a fast, spritely first movement; a dance-like statement of self; a slow and mournful fugue; a finale that brings her back to herself; and then resolution and peace, reaffirming her talent and strength in the coda. Ben, the hip ‘Blue’ Miller, is portrayed by the music; everything you need to know about him is told by the progression of Ellie's music, from forceful swing to cool bebop, dissonant and chaotic free jazz, resolving back to romantic and lyrical post-modern. Ben in a very real way does not truly exist until Ellie creates him. If you know nothing about jazz, Solos is theater, pure and simple, a love story of two people trying to live through their art and insecurities. If you are familiar with jazz, the musical hints will provide a little extra gift."
Paul Castaneda directed the actors Desiree Perez and Michael Sapp. While Ben Millers career as a jazz trumpeter grew, it became clear that Ellie was the creative force behind his rise. She wrote all the music that helped spark his rise. When he came home to brag about the crowds raw energy, Ella's mood soured as she sat hoe alone. The characters arcs were always on opposing paths. She yearned to have the music she wrote recognized but Ben got all the accolades. Though often at odds, the couple were undeniably stronger together. The play followed their relationship through the years. They grew old and matured together despite their differences.
At this rehearsal, the actors were already "off book" but Paul called them out to be fully present in the moment. While one actor was speaking, the other actors thoughts might wander to what they would have to do next. When they are fully, emotionally involved in the scene, that is when the magic happens. Both actors seemed to be living in their character's skin. The affection and history between them felt very reel. The play will resonate for anyone who has ever felt that their talents were not fully recognized. It is only after the struggles, that the couple realizes how strong they are together.