Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Depths of Alan

Michael Schaaff, who plays Alan in "bare", sent this to me yesterday, so I am giving you all a Thursday Update :)

Originally this was going to be a journal of sorts of Alan's thoughts throughout the show. It turned into more of an essay, but Mike says it really helped him with the character even this late in the game. I think every actor should do this for their characters about halfway through the rehearsal process -- it's amazing what you discover about the character, the show, and yourself.

When I was cast for this show, I was really excited about the concept. From what I had heard, it sounded great. Once I read the synopsis I was sold. I was playing the nerdy kid. Huh, I can play that cause that's what I was in high school. Long shot for me, I know. So we started up rehearsal. Initially I kinda just classified myself as ensemble and was content with just being moving scenery. As we were progressing along with rehearsals I started to wonder were Alan fit into this group who has known each other "since 7th grade". He had to be more than just moving scenery. Alan is considered the nerdy guy, counterpart to Diane. He's the standard smart, follow the rules, good student, which in high school is a nerd. He's the norm that the other guys are branched off of, making him seem plain. What makes this character special? One of the themes this show has is "hear my voice". It's about young people wanting acceptance and the way I see the Alan character, he wants to be accepted as more than just the nerd and maybe more than just a friend. Most "nerds", and anyone for that matter, can relate to the feeling of wanting to be with someone but going unnoticed. In Alan's case, it's Diane. She clearly likes Jason and Alan can't compete with that. So he remains content to be her friend, always hoping one day to be seen. When the Jason/Peter/Ivy stuff goes down, I feel that Alan is on the "intellectual" side of the responses to the situation. How would/should he respond? He's got scientific facts. There are all kinds of case studies and data showing that being gay is genetic with some influence from environment. It's the old nature vs. nurture question. Does he choose scientific fact over religion? An even more posing question is, does he choose religion over a friend? What's right? Does he go break free of the "rule-following obedient kid" mold? While he doesn't have the lines to express his feelings, as he is just an ensemble character, I feel that a friend to Alan is everything. As a nerd in high school you come to cherish your grades and your friends. High school is rough and you need support to make it through. I don't think Alan would be the kind of person to throw away a friendship. Social acceptance is vital to a "nerd". Have you ever really met a mean nerd? If you have they are very few and far between.

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