13 August 2007

So So So How Did It Go Go Go...?

You know, friends can't always make it out to your show. Especially when you're not native to the city, and you do a lot of shows out of town, friends both old and new often have a great deal of trouble getting to where you're doing your work. Add to that the indelible irony of being a theatre artists--that is, most of the people you've met in your adult life are the same, and involved in their own shows you never have time to see--and it's frankly a miracle when someone you know, love and respect ends up in an audience. I think I'm fairly understanding as regards this. I'm especially touched, however, by how many of my friends emailed me this weekend to ask me how our opening on Saturday went.

It went well, y'all. Really very well.

I've not felt stage fright like I did Saturday since the opening of Noble Aspirations. With all that has changed, gone wrong and been invested in As Far As We Know, I was just a wreck starting around 1:30 and extending well past the hour of our start, 9:00 pm. It was a fair consensus that all were feeling mildly-to-greatly throwy-uppy just prior to curtain. We began our day with a blessed extra hour in the space from 10:00 to 11:00 am, in which time the actors ran all the transitions whilst the tech just tried to get more proverbial ducks in the proverbial row before that evening's great experiment. Thereafter we adjourned to a nearby playground to do a speed-through of the lines, and the tech side alighted into a colorful plastic-and-metal tower for notes. It was a gorgeous day, and we felt relaxed.

As I went my separate way afterward, however, already I began the micro-management (in essence, a failure to manage) that is symptomatic of an opening day for me. I got my hair trimmed again, which was good, but spent an hour deliberating on where to have it done. I got some film developed, which was also good, but walked twenty blocks to a place that closed over a year ago before finding a Walgreen's that still does hour development. Then, at approximately 2:00, I stalled out. I needed lunch, but didn't feel hungry, and worried about eating before the show, even though it was still seven hours hence. I had thought to go home and do little homey things, but my film would be ready at 5:00, and I didn't want to come all the way up to 23rd before the show, and there was a 3:00 showing of Bourne Ultimatum nearby and I could eat fast but I probably needed a nap at some point and and and--

Sense prevailed. After eating, I made it home and promptly fell asleep for an hour, got up and and did laundry, organized photo albums and even got to Walgreen's again before arriving for the show call. We got in a little earlier than our 30 minutes, and by the time I was there the projection drop was already up and I was put on taping down light cords. In between tech tasks, actors hurriedly checked and double-checked their props and costumes, frantically noting little differences in the space even since the morning (Who the f%$k put those ground instruments there?!). My big panic was being unable to find the t-shirt my character wears throughout, something I hadn't seen for days anyway and had been niggling at the back of my mind all day. It ended up being within the army bag--another actor's prop--and I found it way too soon. I could have used the further distraction to keep me from madly pacing backstage as the audience filed noisily in.

We had a good, big crowd, with only three out of 74 seats unclaimed. The show begins with my character's mother (that night being played by a substitute actress [a one-night-stand for her; we rehearse the actor who will be in for the remainder of the run tonight] with script in hand) entering with a box, humming to herself. Then triumphant music begins, cuing us all to enter simultaneously and enthusiastically draw yellow ribbon from the box. It's a great way to begin for me--an anonymous, high-energy entrance that introduces actors to audience without any of the stress of an opening scene. It quickly transitions into the sequence in which I do a number of push-ups (usually 24-30, by the by), and they are the easiest of my life. Nothing like show adrenaline to amp up a workout.

In point of fact, there's not enough for me to do in this show. I mean, my part is well-balanced, I think. As one of the "creactors" of this piece, I wouldn't want him to have more exposure than he already has, particularly as the show approaches its denouement. What I mean to say is that I am accustomed to sweating my way through a show, working hard and throughout, and this show in particular raises a lot of driving emotions in me that desire venting. It was not meant to be, however, so I become melancholic backstage and after the show, funneling excess emotional energy into push-ups between scenes. It's a strange state for me, and I'm curious to see if it continues into our final (read: fifth) showing.

Our first did go well, to stumble awkwardly back on track. There were surprisingly few gaffes given our collective circumstances, and them what happened were more than manageable. The biggest that I noticed was my first scene being cut a few lines shy of the end by a sound cue. Suspended in a freeze, I wondered if we would go back to get those lines and fudge the transition into my monologue--a horrible prospect. Fortunately we managed to segue somewhat smoothly into the "capture video," and I felt properly shaken up for it. From my end, the only other gaffe was that yes, indeed, I did almost trip backwards over a bench. I swear that little bastard hadn't been there in rehearsal. Ah well: something to keep me vigilant in my performance.

It's odd to have such widely spread performances. Even given the pick-up rehearsals today and tomorrow to work in the new actor, it feels like a strange interlude. Our next show is Tuesday at 7:00. We have sparse reservations, but it seems there was a reviewer in the crowd Saturday (blessing or curse?), and Joe Varca got a beautiful trailer made and up on the website, so we'll see how we do. Maybe a few unexpected friends will make it. Who knows? Regardless, I'll be thinking of them as I resist the urge to vomit profusely.


Moheggie said...

And you did NOT trip over that bench. You barely even nudged it. I know because I was watching, intently. Staring really. Always watching..."Look at the baby, look at the baby!"

Kim W. said...

You know, I do wish I'd known that I knew someone else involved in The Fringe...(Did I mention I'm also on the review squad for nytheater.com?)

(Kim W., who's been playing over in the Scranton blog)

Davey said...

You know, if it wasn't for the gun, it would look like you were in Singing in the Rain!

Jeff Wills said...

Kim! Welcome to the Aviary. I hope you can make the show. I promise both you and Davey that it's nothing like "Sining in the Rain."

Apart from the dance numbers.

Melissa said...

gonna be there on a particular day that i can't remember right now.
friend Becky is performing in your very same theatre on a show called Hillary Agonistes or something...
she wants to see your show, and so do i...and thats when we can be there.
mysteries abound.

Kim W. said...

I promise both you and Davey that it's nothing like "Sining in the Rain."

Actually, a show titled "Sinning In The Rain" might do quite well at the Fringe... (g)

(Sorry -- it was too fun a typo not to comment on.)