Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Withdrawal, Snobbery, and 'The Road'

In late August and September I experienced a flurry of acting activity - beginning with extra work on films in Lowell and the North Shore, punctuated by Zombie work for Rock Media's Longwalls Zombie video, and brought to a fever pitch by six weeks of Kevin Lasit's advanced acting lab. The inevitable crash probably would have come earlier, but anticipation of the premiere of the video kept me from realizing that for the first time in over ninety days there was nothing on the horizon.. Not that I don't have other things to do, but the demands and disciplines of acting are stimulating, and prolonged exposure can be addicting.

So that's what I am feeling now, withdrawal. I check the various casting agencies daily. Boston Casting has put out several appeals for a variety of roles - but none have been a good fit (of course I have applied anyway, but was never asked to come in). In the back of my mind is a vague desire to create - with the aid of some of the talented people I have come to know, a black box experience: theatrical dramas stripped down to their essentials.. I am, to be blunt, somewhat snobbish about local theatre in general. I think that almost invariably these productions try for too much, and so sacrifice all.

I am also anxious - if that's the right word, to see what Austrailian film director John Hillcoat has done to Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'. This is fiction (that reads like a prose poem) that is completely unsuited to film. It is a dark, grieving meditation on futility. It is not post-apocalypic - as some early reviews have stated, because McCarthy takes you into the very heart of an apocalypse in progress - a human apocalypse. This is a book to read aloud over the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. But there are no scenes, to speak of in its pages: instead there is a smouldering fire that you feel is always just about to re-ignite. There are no gratuitous scenes of familiar landmarks laid to waste. There is wasteland, and through it a dieing father and his son scurry like cockroaches. Every page you expect the boot to come down. I am anxious because I feel protective of this book: it is a crushed and crumbling flower within the pages of the Book of the Dead and I worry that putting it on film will be like adding rouge to the cheeks of a corpse.

'The Road' I think, would make a wonderfully brutal play. "O-u-t-c-a-s-t.. outcast!' is the memorable refrain from Dicken's Nicholas Nickelby. We are all outcasts, McCarthy says. Life sucks, and then you die.

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