Who let the dog in?
During our 10 hours of improv training from Mark Oppenlander at MasterWorks Omar kept reminding us of the importance of "Yes, and..." That's taking what comes and adding to it. Last night while performing Beyond the Chariots in Welling, Oklahoma, (the end of the Trail of Tears) I reached the scene in which Eric Liddell is in the hospital bed, dying. Just then, a dog yelped outside. I found out later it was Boots Barrington, who was picking a fight with a cat. I said, in my best educated Scots, "Who let the dog in?" The crowd burst into laughter, so I followed it up: "Don't let him get any of the rations!" Again they howled (but thankfully the dog had stopped). I capped it with, "Tell him he can catch the rabbits now." The audience laughed harder, which set up the poignancy of the rest of the scene like nothing else could.
One of the great joys of acting is when you feel so close to the character you're portraying that you tap into their reactions. In a one-man play, you can actually act upon them without throwing your fellow actor! I've read so often, and heard from those that knew him, that Liddell had an amazing sense of humor, even in the most difficult of times. I don't think I've ever captured it better.
Thanks for the inspiration, Boots!
By the way, several people have asked me if Eric actually did catch rabbits. It's true.