Monday, April 5, 2010

Boleslavsky Lives!

Emily Bridges and Beau Bridges

Acting: The First Six Lessons

In a curtain speech Beau Bridges and his daughter, Emily, take the stage to a hometown welcome. Beau’s been a member of Theatre West, he says, for at least forty years and this is his first time on stage there. He’s affable and tells the story of how he was introduced to the company by his godmother, Betty Garrett and as a young man did scenes with her. He told the audience that his parents (his full name is Lloyd Bridges III) always supported his being an actor and his dad, Lloyd, gave him, at the age of ten, a copy of Boleslavsky’s Acting: The First Six Lessons. The play, as adapted by Beau and Emily, has been in the works for a couple of years. They designed the set, a well functioning unit that serves as the Teacher’s (Bridges’) study, as well as a movie set, an elevator and the top of the Empire State Building.

At rise The Creature (well tuned Emily Bridges) arrives in The Teacher’s (equally impressive Beau Bridges) study with a burning desire to act. She wants to create art, to live art, to BE art.. The teacher is mildly sympathetic but tells his new charge that Talent is the key to success on the stage .. one must not only become completely observant, but adapt to the nuances of each character one is challenged with and to find a way to Concentration.

In the course of the ninety minute production, we see the Creature expand, contract, fumble and grow. Emily, a Fordam grad, shows that talent must run in the family and under the tutelage her mentor (her proud father glowing under his stage persona) finds nuance after nuance in her work (after some chilling stuff at the top of the show as she limns King Lear.. not one of the daughters, but the King himself), later advancing to a more suitable role: Ophelia. She performs the scene once which sounds mature and well prepared, though she says it’s not right. She then finds grace notes and subtle fineries suggested by The Teacher. She does the scene again that reaches to the depths and heights of Ophelia’s deep and dark feelings. The audience is swept away.

For actors, students of acting and aficionados of the art and craft of theatre the Bridges bring Boleslavsky’s First Six Lessons to life.

The production is dedicated to Betty Garrett, a founding member of Theatre West, whom I was fortunate to sit beside and hear stories of Beau’s early days with the company. Initially, Beau was rejected for membership because he was so young! This, his first effort on the main stage of Theatre West ably directed by Charlie Mount is, simply, a must see.

Through May 16, 2010
Fridays at 8PM Sundays at 2PM
In Repertory with Kres Mersky’s The Life and Times of A. Einstein
Theatre West
3333 Cahuenga West
Los Angeles, CA 90068
Reservations 323 851 7977
$25 Top

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