The Mysterious Elephant...
I play two characters in The Mysterious Elephant...: Capt. Mandy Addington and his brother Cristoff Addington. I write this because several castmates have told me they know people who weren't aware of this after having seen the show, which is cool. It helps that to play Capt. Mandy I wear a beard that looks like I skinned a wookie, but cool none-the-less.
Let me begin by saying what playing these two characters is not. It is not a high-wire act in which I'm afraid I'm going to blurt out the other character's line. I say this because people have asked. I was talking with my roommate recently, I forget about what, and he mentioned paths in the brain. We learn things a certain way, and a "path" is made and it's very difficult to change that. Scientific or not, that's what it feels like. Both of these characters talk, walk, act in such distinct ways, my mind would have to completely derail for the wrong line to come out.
So, that's what it's not like. What is it like? It's like starting the show twice. I put a lot of pressure on those moments where the audience is introduced to the characters you've created. All the prep work and discovery and all the rehearsing, they lead to that moment every night where you lay it all at the feet of the audience. So that's what consumes my thoughts.
For Cristoff, there's a whole lof of logistics. I try not to think about them. Some nights I'm more successful than others. It begins inside the trunk. (Let me tell you, it's tight in there.) Will I be able to get my feet underneath me? Will the trunk lid stay up? Bang on the trunk. Ow, my foot's cramping! Say your line! Etc. And suddenly, the trunk lid opens, Cristoff pops up and I've a brief respite. Then I wonder how Cristoff's going to move. It's generally the same, but it feels new every night.
With Mandy, it's that first line he has. The family sings a song beforehand, but it's Mandy's voice that sets everything in motion for me. He always sounds so loud to me, every night.
After these moments...well, it doesn't take care of itself, exactly, but the pieces are in place. Honestly, I'm more along for the ride at that point. I guess this is where the high-wire analogy can come into play. Yes, you're off to the races, but you best be aware of what's going on. It's live theater. Who knows what could happen? Maybe I'll say the other character's line.
So that's what it's like to play these two guys. If you've seen the show, it was a pleasure performing for you. I hope you had as much fun as I have. If you're coming to the show this weekend, I'll see you there.