Saturday, July 15, 2006
Meet the cast member: Bill Erenata
I believe the last show I performed in at Foothill was the first show Bill performed in at Foothill, How to Succeed in Business... in 1999. We ended up married at the end of that show if my fuzzy memory serves :)
Since then Bill has become another Foothill stalwart, appearing in 6 shows in as many years. Actually, as he tells it:
I was actually cast for a 7th show, but a triple by-pass heart operation in January 2000, interfered with my participation in that that show. Of course the doctor gave me a choice, do nothing and go on with the way I was feeling, and be dead within a year, OR, have the roto-rooter job. Well, it has been over 6 years now, and probably 15-20 more shows that I have been able to participate in.
Bill actually has a way with words, describing very accurately the tough job the snsemble has in a big-cast show like Annie Get Your Gun. It can actually take a while before the ensemble starts to see the throughline of a piece. They're often working on this dance number or that finale, but not privy to the various connecting scene work:
As you are aware, adding the ensemble into the staging and linking the scenes together to create memorable pictures and to ensure smooth transitions between scenes by effectively moving on and off set pieces is just a lot of work. And, it continues to change as some of the actual set pieces finally show up out of the shop, and it is found that people, stationary set pieces, and cast locations are now different than originally staged. It is, as Jay mentioned, a giant Rubik cube puzzle, and we continue to work on it to get it right. Good thing that we are making notes to our scripts using the old #2 pencil, and that we can bring along extra erasers.
Bill shares his favorite part of the theatrical process, and like most of us, he probably would like to answer, "I like them all!"
The rehearsal process allows the actor a lot of freedom to try to develop the character and help to ensure the integrity of the scene. We as actors are encouraged to make our "mistakes" at this point, or to try things which we might not have thought of. So, there is a lot more "fun". As we get into the run throughs, it becomes more about remembering the specifics which will ensure the smooth flow of the performance and and the seamless transitions which link the scenes. When we get through these two parts of the process, and add the rest of the magic necessary to bring this story to life (costumes, makeup, scenery, orchestra, lights), it is still the audience which will provide the feeback to generate the spark "energy" to bring this to life. And, live theatre provides those opportunities to "stay in the here and now" to ensure that each performance is fresh and alive for each new audience. No time to be complacent, for each performance is a new opportunity to tell the story afresh to a new audience, and have them be touched in a way that will somehow move them.
Ever since Bill jumped, somewhat later than some of us, into the theatre life, he has made up for a later start with a constant flow of performances:
I consider myself a neophyte in this business, taking my first steps onto the stage in 1997. It is definitely not a career path, but very definitely FUN, COMMUNITY, and most assuredly, keeps me out of trouble!!! I turn 70 years young this year, and would have never dreamed that I would be doing something like this at this stage of my life. Schooled as a physicist/mathematician, and then experiencing life in the USMC as a fighter pilot, and then a lengthy career in public service administration as the Deputy Director of the San Jose International Airport, who would have ever guessed, certainly not me, that I would find this creative outlet in live theatre.
Since being a member of Foothill's 2005 summer production of "Brigadoon", I have participated in the Sunnyvale Community Players' productions of "The Sound of Music" and "City of Angels". That was then followed by West Valley Light Opera's "Once Upon a Mattress", and then "The Haunting of Hill House". And I am already lined up to be a member of the cast of "Bye, Bye Birdie" for the Saratoga Drama Group, which will open in the latter part of September.
Kinda makes me tired just looking at that schedule! But if anyone is a testament to the fact that retirement doesn't have to leave you sitting home bored (are you listening, Mom???) it's Bill!!