Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.
1. I recently realized that my four closest friends presently are all women who have broken up with me. I guess I just like surrounding myself with people who make wise life choices.
2. Slap in the Face of the Week:
3. So it was revealed, during a recent Oprah interview, that the environment around The Royal Family is a racist one. In an equally shocking revelation, it turns out that they really really really like to drink tea.
4. Truth Bomb of the Week:
5. I had a longer day with a bunch of scenes and a good bit of dialogue on set last week and the words were going in and out of my head as the day went on. I tend to beat myself up about shit like that, as part of my process. Between takes, I sat with a 29-year-old female castmate.
Me: I mean, I’m getting older. It’s natural that I’m starting to have a harder time remembering the lines.
She: (trying to comfort me) Oh, stop it! 58 is not old.
Me: I’m fifty fucking three.
6. Poem of the Week:
7. In my experience, the people who are most insistent that you take an STD test before you sleep with them tend to be the ones who are most likely to give you an STD.
8. Guest Post of the Week:
9. Fuck Yeah of the Week:
10. My favourite definition of theatre is: “the event that takes place midway between the audience and the action on the stage.” You can’t watch theatre on a screen. That just isn’t theatre. One of the necessary elements of theatre is that it be live and seen in person. Theatre is a living, immediate thing that is happening right in front of you and that you are a part of. Not a thing that you just watch. You are as important to the people on the stage as a member of the audience as the people on the stage are to you.
You can’t ever fully experience theatre on a screen. You just can’t. I recently watched Rick Roberts’ excellent adaptation of Orestes online which was live, as most of the pandemic offerings I have watched have been, but the truth is any of those offerings could have been pre-recorded and it would have made absolutely no difference to the viewer at all. It’s pictures on a screen. In fact, most of the shows I have seen online would have had the same impact if they had had no visual element to them at all. It’s just the nature of the technical limitations of folks shooting themselves on their computer cameras in one static shot from start to finish. Watching people speaking to each other over zoom cameras or what have you is absolutely nothing like watching people speaking to each other on a stage. Speaking with their words as well as their bodies while they pursue whatever the thing is that they want from each other. A thing I sometimes do when I am watching a film is to turn the sound off and see if I can tell what an actor in a scene is pursuing. Try it if you haven’t. Spoiler alert: you always can, if the actor is any good.
I say all this to as a preamble to say that I have been watching Obsidian Theatre’s 21 Black Futures on CBC Gem—which dropped the day I’m writing this—and I have been quite enjoying it. I am watching it fully aware that I am a white male and not the person it was written for, so I am not commenting on the content material itself except to say that what I have seen so far has had been very strong in terms of variety and execution.
I am quite enjoying that it isn’t pretending to be theatre but that it has successfully preserved a lot of theatrical elements. It’s writing that feels like theatre writing. A series of monologues that don’t seem limited by the restrictions of reality—meaning anything is possible. Each writer’s imagination defines the world of each piece. The pieces have all been intentionally filmed on a stage without trying to disguise it as anything but a stage. In fact, often the stage is emphasized to remind me that these pieces were conceived in and of the world of theatre, if not actually born there. They each have a set of their own. And good sets. But sets you would see on a stage. Not on film. Smart, I thought. It is this shared stage (whether it is, in fact, the same stage or not) that ties the pieces together for me (so far—I just finished season 2, episode 2).
In terms of theatricality, there is a lot of direct address (meaning the characters are speaking to the camera/audience directly). There are projections and music and dance, which we see more often on stage than in film.
The pieces have been shot and directed brilliantly, employing all of the elements of good filmmaking—which is not a thing we see a lot of. It can be very, very difficult to film work on a stage. I am not sure why, but it is. Probably just money. I mean, I guess, they are all each short films, and would be considered as such if they weren’t presented in televised series form.
I’m just sharing my personal thoughts here as I take a break and process why what I am watching works so well (in addition to the excellent writing and performing).
Since the pandemic has begun this is my favorite theatre related project that I have seen. Of course, it cost some fucking money to make this work, I’m sure, which actual theatre companies don’t have—so I am not saying that with the intention of shitting on anyone else’s efforts, which have far outshone my own (being fuck all). I am not comparing it to the others because that would just be stupid. It is its own thing. Maybe it is because I have seen a ton of theatre over the years and the quality of the productions each of these preserves enough of what an experience in theatre might be like, it made it a short walk to imagining what it might feel like to be sitting in a theatre watching them. Which still isn’t the same thing as theatre. But it is a pretty fucking successful representation of it.
(Since writing this, I have seen the entire series and the high quality of writing and execution was consistent throughout)
11. Laugh of the Week:
12. I find the relationship between actors and directors is a lot like a marriage. Its foundation is built on healthy and open communication, but sometimes you have to bend the truth ever so slightly to make it work.
I had a zoom call with a director I was about to work with last week and she asked me how I liked to work. What I should have said was, “I mostly like to just do what I want and get no direction or feedback at all and be told constantly that everything I am doing is genius,” but instead I said, “However you want. I just want you to be happy.”