Sunday, February 22, 2009

'Show Opens Well'

Opening night went off with only little 'glitches', but for the most part, was pretty well executed and received. The house was small, but then that is always the dilemma, how to get people into the seats. Still, the house we had was very alive and present, so they made it energetic to perform. I use the word energetic, because even after all the preparation, the rehearsals, the re-writing, the set building, the lighting design, the sound design, taking care of the box office, the press release, building the programs, sending out e-mail 'blasts', giving out post cards, more re-writing, more long hours of rehearsal, fighting back a cold, losing my cell phone, getting down to our last dollars, living so close to the bone, and then finally opening, I haven't reached the point where I'm actually 'having fun' performing the show. That will come as the show becomes easier to do. 

Preview night felt to me inside like a disaster, but Kurt actually said it was a good show, even though there were moments when I was totally lost. Can you imagine? The actor's worst nightmare, being on stage and losing where you are in the text! There are reasons for this which I will explain. This show has never been performed in front of an audience before, so as a performer, I have no idea what the reaction is going to be to any of it. The theatre is a small and intimate space, (but wonderful with very high ceilings), and when the lights are up full, it doesn't have the advantage on a larger stage of 'not seeing' the audience. Their faces are right there! When you walk on stage to perform, your adrenaline is pumping, all of your senses are on high alert, and you are extremely reactive and vulnerable. So, you are reacting to everything around you. Preview night, because the show has a narrative component, I was making some eye contact with audience, which is very tricky with a theatre piece. When you perform music, it is not as critical, and is somewhat expected. Breaking the 'fourth wall' to make contact with an audience in theatre, however, is much more difficult to do. But again, to reiterate, this show has never had an audience. The style, the movement, and the reaction of the show has not ever been established--making that choice threw me. Opening night, I changed my preparation to look over the audience's head to an X on the back wall, which changed everything. I was able to focus, and find my way through the show. I learned reading Stanislovski, (the great russian acting teacher) a technique of using the X on the back wall to re-focus and 'find place', and even though opening night I had to use it several times, it works, even though there it may be preceded by a short pause. 

So, opening night went off without to many little errors, (which is better than big glaring errors!) and the audience seemed to want to stick around and talk which is always a very good sign. Still, it will be quite a number of shows before I can really have an overall understanding of the 'general reaction', even though specific reaction changes based on the experiences the audience brings into the theatre. It will be quite some time before I really can completely relax and be 'at ease' with this show. It's new! 

Thank you all for the wonderful support and the following of the show. Tonight, the LA Weekly, (press) is coming, so I'm preparing a press kit and trying to find an audience so the critic won't be sitting there by himself! I'll write more later, just letting you know that the show is open and there is a definite 'buzz' about the show, and that will increase as we continue... 

6 comments:

Gerry said...

As you have probably seen on my blog, Doc volunteered to 'take' me to Los Angeles after he saw how confounded I was about how to get there without going alone. I perked up as I thought this would be a trip he could probably handle as well as any and he has been talking about taking one for some time. I did not want to go to St. Louis. He can well afford to go. He has the time, and I think he is interested. He is always making a video and saying, "Now see that Raymond gets a copy of this." I don't always do it, but he seems to respect your critical faculties. My plan is to come the first week in March. That way we will see it on the weekend. Pam has already picked up on the plan and hopes we can meet. This weekend you will have family from Utah and Linda tells me she plans to be there, too, as well as Rissy. So I thought to come a later week. Interesting to read what your thoughts were on the preview night, and then of course critic night will create some tension. You have to stand outside and look at yourself the performer, so that is some feat! Glad to read a posting! Mom

Jude said...

I remember you teaching us about the X on the back wall. I remember.

Pamela said...

I'm definitely coming with your Mom when she gets here. I've considered seeing it before she arrives. I may drive up one night by myself. We'll see.
Pam

Grace said...

worry not, you.

you're words are irresistable, the people will come.

LaRena said...

This is probably a classic case of build it and they will come. I am so glad your Utah people will be there soon as this will feel like the greatest support you can get. I remember when I was a teen ager in a school play and I was quite terrified and my mother told me not to look directly at the audience and it would help. I was amazed. I don't know how she knew this. Certainly we hadn't heard of the big X on the back wall in Wayne County. So glad you made it through the first performance with only little errors. It is quite the feat.

Connie said...

Congratulations on your wonderful review.I am one of your moms blog friends and read it .So happy for you.