Allison Bloechl, Company Member
Good Bad Acting – or – How to be a crazy German überwench
Acting badly: easy for some, hard for others, extremely difficult to do on purpose. The characters portrayed in Bullshot Crummond straddle (figuratively and literally in my case) the line between over-the-top spoof and genuine humanity.
When we began rehearsing this unique show, our lovely director, Matt Tallman, had us venture far into the world of the caricature and cartoon. Dramatic pauses abounded, actors faced everything directly out to the audience, and all was – more or less – ludicrous and surreal.
After a week of this, he slowly began to chisel away at the absurdities and layer in aspects of reality. Instead of facing everything out, we began to act and, more importantly, react to our scene partners instead of relying on the tropes of the genre as we had before.
We had shifted suddenly from the Marx Brothers to Stanislavski – each character using real tactics to overcome the obstacles and reach their goals. While Lenya’s goals may be absurd – world domination (and at least one dalliance with a certain Captain…) – the way she goes about getting them is very true and honest. She coerces, forces, seduces and manipulates those around her to get her way.
Such is the charm of Bullshot Crummond. The audience is titillated by the absurdities of the circumstances, but is enthralled with the realness of the characters.
Lenya really came to life as she began to get more realistic, as least, as realistic as someone who strikingly resembles Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle can be. As I began to stray away from the clichés and dig deeper into the human being that Lenya was, she became richer and more active in moving the storyline forward. She became a joy to portray as her obsession with Crummond became more and more clear.
Lenya to me is a child mesmerized by a shiny object. Once I had discovered the playable, realistic aspects of her character, I could achieve the ludicrous without making her unlovable (even if she is the bad guy). While her obsession is hysterical and ridiculous, it is real. If it’s not real, if Lenya is not absolutely invested in how to get what she wants, it’s bad acting. If it’s an absolute, genuine conviction to get what she wants, no matter how crazy the steps (1. Annoy husband with inappropriate relationship with bird so that he won’t want to deal with arch nemesis. 2. Receive permission to deal with [sexy] arch nemesis. 3. Defeat arch nemesis, but not before a little bit of fun…), hopefully, it’s ridiculous acting, done well.