It’s a small, but practical gym near the northern border of Chicago. Crammed into the lobby are dozens of cardio machines nearly toppling over one another. The front desk barely fits in here. In fact, it was probably an afterthought. But when they’re not fighting for their lives, loves, and careers, Kara and Clarissa are earning their meager paychecks at this dull front desk. And tonight, their friendship will once again be tested. But I got there early. So I had to watch some people sweat first.
The gym closed promptly at 8, and the 5-person crew rolled in and had their working location ready to shoot at 8:15. The night’s scene was only a few pages, but the weight of a fractured friendship was not lost on director/ writer/ lead-actor Kelsey Jorissen, who wasted no time and began rehearsing with Giselle Vaughn Ruecking, her on-screen best friend.
I first heard about the show when I read an article entitled Princess of the 22 Clark Bus. [http://www.seedandspark.com/content/princess-22-clark-bus-and-why-i-made... In it, a frustrated, yet hopeful young photographer/ filmmaker, Kelsey Jorissen, describes her artistic journey that started at age thirteen with a Hayao Miyazaki film and had presently led to quitting her job to do the only thing that made sense: Tell her own story.
“You’ve reached your breaking point.” She needed Clarissa’s speech to cut deeper. While producer and assistant director, Dane Ohlrogge, and cameraman, Eddie Avinashi, framed the shots, Kelsey framed the performances. Clarissa had to put Kara in her place. The shoot was moving fast, but the direction was sharp. After only a few takes, the scene had ripened, and Kara felt the sting of her friend’s chiding, which challenged her to listen and not judge, while also challenging the very nature of friendship. Clarissa is actually standing up for her ex-boyfriend for cheating on her with a man. We have all hurt the ones we love, but what if your ex-lover actually had the moral fiber to find forgiveness in their heart? Clarissa has reached her breaking point. But she has come out victorious. No small feat.
I was an immediate fan of The Dreamers. The characters are archetypal; they’re the kids you know. You’ve reached like they have, and fallen short too. Your friendships have confused and frustrated you. You’ve lied, apologized, and lied again. You didn’t get the job. Did you give up? I hope not, because they haven’t yet. As an actor flying around Chicago from one service job to another, from storefront plays, to unseen indies, and a hundred lost auditions- I know failure, rejection, and sadness. But I don’t want to give up either, so I had to see for myself how Kara and her friends are chasing their own bliss. Thankfully, Kelsey was a friend from the acting class & audition circuit, and I scored an invitation to the set.
10pm. The scene is almost done, but not before Giselle gets the giggles. And the giggles are a plague on the set. Even the microphone operator, Coco Fernandez is cracking up. It’s too bad the camera didn’t role on Kelsey’s and Giselle’s ensuing dance. It could easily have been a scene of Kara and Clarissa on a coffee break; a remembrance of simpler times, or a much –deserved catharsis. But between dancing, singing, and checking Instagram, Kelsey is still planning the next shot, and the hold-up doesn’t last. On the next take, Giselle nails her monologue, full of the hurt of a scorned lover; but it is commanded by the pain of a lost friend, and the looming fear of losing the one right next to her. Didn’t they used to see these things the same way?
The Movie Magic is fleeting. Half of it wasn’t even caught on camera. But it was palpable. Exquisite. Not just a success at the gym, but a glimpse at the future; a step towards a new tier of artistic and technical achievement. There’ll be more series and other films. And I’ll be first in line to see them. Hell, I’ll be the coffee boy on set. I’ll take any chance I can get for another peek at this Magic. Kelsey is a Dreamer who has gotten a taste of what she has been chasing since thirteen. What are you chasing?
Matthew Gall is a New Hampshire native and a proud member of the Ithaca Mafia. He has been working and performing in Chicago for five years, collaborating regularly with Rare Terra Theatre and ShawChicago. A lifelong lover of film and the performing arts, he aspires to see more, make more, and write about all of it.