Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is what I do in my spare mind.

Being at home with the kids all day, I've noticed that I've been spending a lot of time inside my own head. I'm trying my very best to be "present" all the time, but frankly, there's only so much brain power need to play with trains and sand, read countless truck books (with no storyline - throw me a bone here!) or to sweep cereal off the floor AGAIN. So I make up little projects for my brain to think about.

This past week, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I've been wanting to read this ever since I studied The Haunting of Hill House (one of the best books EVER) in university. When I Googled We Have Always Lived in the Castle so that Mr Earth could order it for me, I noticed that there was an acting edition by Hugh Wheeler available. Of course, this little nugget of info stuck in my head, and when I started reading the book, I couldn't help but try to cast the novel in my head.

I may be an actor, but I think I'm also a frustrated casting agent. Direction is important and all, but if you haven't cast your show well, then you're lost from the beginning. I have huge issues when I go see a movie that was originally a book, and I don't think the casting was appropriate. (Don't get me started on the Twilight movie - were they temporarily blind when they cast Rosalie and Jasper?? Ug.)

Anyways, once I started casting the book in my head, I thought: Wouldn't it be interesting if I tried to cast the book from bloggers, solely based on what I know from their writing, and random pictures of themselves that they may have posted. Here's what I came up with (please keep in mind that when I say you have the ability to portray a character it's a compliment to your intellect and sensitivity - not that I necessarily think you are that person...):

Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood. Merricat is the central character and we see the book through her eyes. She is prone to daydreaming and dark thoughts about people who treat her or her family badly. She uses sympathetic magic and superstition for protection. Despite this, she misses nothing and isn't afraid to speak her mind. She has been described as one of the 100 Best Fiction Characters since 1900.

My natural inclination is to cast Painted Maypole. An accomplished actress who has done numerous and varied roles would be crucial to play the many shades of gray that Merricat displays along with the black and white. However, when I read the book, I immediately thought of Beck's dark, ethereal, good looks and razor sharp wit. I'm afraid I would have to call them both in and see who gives the better reading.

Constance Blackwood. Accused and acquitted of putting arsenic in the sugar bowl and murdering a large portion of her family. Described by Merricat as a fairy princess, "all pink and white and golden". She is a domestic goddess and agoraphobic. Despite all accusations, some people in the town want her to come back into society - presumably because she's so beautiful and charming that it would be a waste for her to hide away. BlogChocolate wins the role.

Uncle Julian. Frail and daft, he was poisoned by the arsenic but somehow survived. He spends all his time trying to remember, and record, the events of that fateful day. This role requires someone with excellent comedic timing. I think I would choose Looky, Daddy! but I am open to suggestions here.

Charles Blackwood. Cousin to the girls, he is after the Blackwood fortune and Constance - probably in that order. Requires someone who can show cynicism and self-importance, and yet still somehow remain likeable and persuasive with regards to Connie. I've chosen Denguy.

Helen Clarke. Seems like kind of a busybody-type but I believe she genuinely believes that what she's doing will help the girls. One of the few people that remains friends with the Blackwoods after the incident. I'm extra careful about casting "smaller characters". I think people tend to not take them as seriously. I think they require stronger actors than the leads, because they have less to work with and yet must be fully-developed people. This role needs an actor with the ability to play someone who is not as smart as she thinks she is. Which means, to me, you need an incredibly clever person. Only really smart people know how to play dumb. Dumb people are just...dumb. I would therefore call in Mad, Kittenpie, HBM and Bea to see which person works best with the cast and gives the best read.

Mrs Wright. Frightened by the Blackwoods, but morbidly curious, she comes to tea with Helen Clarke and wants all the details of that fateful night. I think Katie would make me laugh in this role.

Jonas. In the book, Jonas was Merricat's cat and you get the sense that he is also her "familiar". In the play version, he was revised to be an adopted servant boy, but I would keep this as a person playing a cat - boy or girl (Much like Sarah Jessica Parker played a dog in Sylvia on Broadway). Jonas watches everything and misses nothing. You get the feeling that he understands and has opinions. He follows Merricat everywhere, but is drawn to Charles for a bit. The person playing this cat must have incredible magnetism and the ability to create a rich inner world. You must be able to know what the person is thinking from reading the eyes and the body language. I don't think Jonas needs to be a "he", and Kgirl is the only person with enough audacity to take on such a challenging role.

Do you agree with my casting? Please feel free to argue why you would be right for the suggested - or any other - role. Or, cast yourself in a different book. These kind of things intrigue my small brain.


painted maypole said...

this is great fun! and... thanks. :) I've never read the book, but now I think I must. and YES, I think it would be a very fun Monday Mission. Since I just put out April's slate, it will have to be May. Feel free to remind me as we get closer, as I'll be approaching opening night, and perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed (had a great first rehearsal last night, and couldn't help but think of you were then director was talking to the actress playing Claire, warning her not to give into the temptation to make Claire a villain)

painted maypole said...

(btw... jpod is waiting on hold for me at the libary!)

Anonymous said...

This was fun! I think I'm going to have to check out this book.

Mimi said...

Oh, wonderful! What a great way to do a post, and what interesting casting choices you've made. Um, could I be the stage manager or something? :-)

Beck said...


"dark, ethereal, good looks and razor sharp wit" AND casting me as a child murderer? I LOVE YOU. This was the best post EVER.

Beck said...

Look at me and my spoilers.... But frankly? I LOVE THAT BOOK.

Kyla said...

I'd just like to hang out back stage with that cast!

Mad said...

I have not read it. I know! What's wrong with me?! Now I must. I loved reading this post and all the descriptions. Very politic, btw, in your description of Helen Clarke.

Mad said...

Yo, No-Mo! Is something up with your gmail account? Everytime I comment here, I get an "mail delivery" msg in my email. It also happens whenever I try to reply to your comments at my place. Just FYI.

bren j. said...

This truly is an interesting use of mental space and time.
And I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for not casting me in any part - gack - I will be pleased to work on props. :)

mamatulip said...

Oh my gosh - this is BRILLIANT. I'm going to be doing this in my head all day.

Bea said...

Blog Chocolate is perfectly cast!

Sandra said...

he he ... love you ... and Bea :)

Anonymous said...

i want to be mercutio is you ever cast r & j

slouching mom said...

I love this!