Learning to Smoke

After, Life is blocked and very nearly off-book. We have a couple more scenes to run without scripts to make the off-bookness official, which are all scheduled for tomorrow.

I don’t have much of an update of our last rehearsal; I was only there for one scene, about twenty minutes. I can tell you that on one of the run-throughs I managed to blow a line quite spectacularly—as in, if I delivered it that way in the show, babies and puppies would explode—which is particularly embarrassing since I only had about six lines in that scene.

I can, however, share one other anecdote of hopeful amusement. My character, the priest, smokes. This brings up plenty of moral and metaphysical questions, I suppose, but the primary one is this: How do you hold the bloody thing?

See, I don’t smoke, and if you don’t smoke, you don’t think too hard about the technique. But then you come into a situation like this and you have to hold it correctly, lest you cause the smokers in the director’s chair make a sound like a Kia with an automatic transmission popping the clutch.

Apparently you don’t hold a cigarette like a blowgun. That I think is a missed opportunity for the tobacco industry. How much cooler would smoking be if you looked like you were shooting a poison dart at a James Bond villain when you did it? Instead, you have to cradle it in a V in your fingers, like a peace symbol at yourself. I’m just saying, the Fonz never had to do that.

Now that I’ve figured that out (mostly), Director Doug still isn’t satisfied. In my smoking lessons, he’s very insistent: relax your fingers. Now tighten them. I kind of think he’s just doing it to mess with me. We have that kind of relationship.

Anyhow: I won’t be actually smoking in the show—Chicago bans it—but we’ve got a couple fake cigarettes that I’ll be using (and that I’m learning on, in the event that my parents are reading this.) So that’s one more reason to come to the show: to judge how realistically I inhale. First person who comes up to me after a show with a review wins a special prize. That special prize is nothing more than a haughty feeling in their soul, but it’s still special.

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