Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Flip Side

So how did my opening night go, you ask? It's hard to say actually, as my memories of the evening are mostly a blur but a Director friend I hadn't known was coming met me after the show and the first words chortled gleefully from his lips were, "Jim, you have balls of steel." Whatever that signifies. I'm also sometimes told I have a magnetic personality. Now I'll have to be more careful when I tie my shoes......

Earlier in the day I put Opening gifts together, wrote a few cards, read, and went to eat. I usually eat Japanese as it's not too heavy, a little ritual that helps get me in the groove and focus for an Opening Night.

But I didn't feel more focused after I ate, and I went to the Theatre thinking "Oh, boy is this going to be one of THOSE nights? One of those nights on which nothing goes quite as smoothly as it should, filled with hiccups and glitches? Quite frankly none of us knew just what to expect--we'd never had more than a few people, no Preview, never a full live house, our Opening was our first Preview.

This means you have to get it right the first time. It means you have to listen intently to the crowd--to read the tenor of the audience right away, see if they're ready to play and how much, ride the laughs that will hopefully come, be ready for any bobble and be ready to cover it. You can't relax into it, you can't be sloppy.

The curtains parted, the Hypno Screen came down, the intro rolled, the thunder pealed, the spirits shrieked and I hit the deck running.

And they loved it. Really. The audience was mostly kids, mostly 11-ish, but a smattering of older and younger who howled and hooted and occasionally yelled out something indecipherable. There had been no preshow recording as is usual; that old "Please remember to turn off all cell phones, and remember no pictures or video recording." speech and within minutes of the curtain a woman in the front row began taking flash pictures at point blank range.

But the show went well though the 2nd act did bog down a bit due to one actor. You guessed it: Mr. X--he did the expected and immediately went to his default acting setting and played the electrician role as Blanche DuBois. Ah, well.

The second night went not so smoothly, with some technical glitches right off the bat--they didn't open the main curtains while I was backing up and I tried to open them without looking but got myself wrapped in the drape instead which rattled me a bit and it took a bit to get my footing again, but I was ultimately able to play the moments and crowd a bit better as I now had some kind of template for possible reactions. According to others I kicked ass.

I found this posted comment on my blog today:

Anonymous said...
Saw the play last night. Brought both children with us. What can I say? I was everything we love all rolled up into one package. I must say though - the theater itself was certainly part of the performance. Thank you for the words here and a most memorable evening - one that my children will have a lifetime.

You're welcome.