I have my cast for my project.
Hamlet and Puppet #1: Kevin Blake. He was the first guy I asked. His knowledge of Shakepeare and improv made it a no brainer.
Man 1 and Puppet #2: Kurt Scholler. One of the best improvisers I know (and I do know a lot), what set him apart from some other choices I could make is that he has a very distinctive voice. This will play very well with the puppet segment and allow for both visual and vocal differentiation in the two characters.
Woman #1: Whitney Avalon. A remarkable performer, I almost hate to waste her talents on such a small scene. Having said that, I’m pulling this favor because she is so great and reliable. We’ve done a lot of projects together and I know what I’m getting. Plus, I may have her sing…
Ghost (Head): David Heath. I could have tried to cast someone out of New York or London for a real impressive demonstration. The problem is I don’t know anyone there who could play the role, so I’d have to cast blindly and trust that they would be in front of their computer on time and knowing how to work teh internets. I don’t need that kind of risk; with this presentation I’m already juggling flaming angry monkey while riding a unicycle on a high wire. So instead, I picked great friend who is a member of the Lamb’s Players Theatre in San Diego. Dave has performed hundreds of roles over the years and couldn’t be nicer or more down to Earth. When I told him what he’d be doing he laughed for a good 30 seconds then said, “Sure Mike, I’m in.” His level of accountability is beyond reproach.
Ghost (body): Katie Brost. The original plan was to have Kurt play the body of Hamlet’s Father. He’s a large, imposing guy and it would play well in the scene. But Kurt isn’t a movement guy and the decision was mainly for conservation of talent. Today as I was jogging (And thinking about the project) it hit me: Katie Brost. Katie is one of my best friends in the program. She’s also incredibly bright and knows as much about theatre as most of the professors teaching us. Additionally, she’s a big fan of Meyerhold and his Biomechanics. This could be a great experience for her if she played the body. She also lives in San Diego, so her and Dave could actually rehearse together. This would really transform my idea of the Ghost’s body from mere;y being a semi-static pedestal for the ipad-head, to a moving living form that moves in tandem with the words. As an added bonus, when the role is over and we reveal the “he” to be a “She”, it will be one more surprise for the audience and further proof of the flexibility of the transactor.
I’m not sure I could have picked a better combination of actors for my presentation. Of course, with that comes my one huge fear: that one or more of them will land a job on that night. A TV gig can pay $1,000 and a commercial more than $20,000 for one day’s work. It’s a hard sell to convince them to “book out” for the evening. I will press them to do this, but if something comes up and they still get cast, I can’t hold them to stay. At that juncture, I don’t quite know what my options are, but I do need a contingent plan. Time for more jogging I guess…