Today is it! Woohoo! The curtain comes down on a less than stellar show, and we are all breathing a huge sigh of relief! Actually, we've all been waiting for this day, with baited breath, since opening night. Not usual to want to close before you even open a show, but every once in a while you get a stinker that just seems like work, and this is one of those.
I filled you in on the rehearsal process, and though the performances themselves have been a cake walk in comparison, there are certain things that have made this an.... "interesting" experience. The 50 mile commute, one way, in usually hideous traffic, has not been fun, but there are some other things that made this experience feel more like community theatre rather than professional, union theatre. There are 8 of us (male and females) crammed into a very small dressing room, with nowhere to escape to. No 'green room' and only one bathroom, that I wound up cleaning before opening night, because it was just too disgusting for words, and it was obvious no-one else was going to do it. It has remained dirty ever since.
The A/C makes too much noise, so they shut it off before a performance. Factor in the stage lights, and you have a bunch of sweaty, almost suffocating actors performing in what feels like a sauna. With wigs and heavy 'period costumes', you can just imagine what that must feel like. Normally all clothes that touch the actor's skin (called skins) are to be washed after every performance. Not! I wash my own socks. The costumes are to be dry-cleaned or washed once a week. Some of the costumes can't be washed, and those never got dry cleaned. Too expensive. Febreze anyone? We've had the same semi-empty generic brand bottle that doesn't work, for the past 5 weeks.
Then we have the director's pre-show speech that drags on for 10 to 20 minutes, which is nerve-wracking when you have the first lines, but shows just how smart he is. We pretty much got panned by all 5 papers. This is the first time I have ever been involved in a show that has been universally panned, so it was a nice humbling experience for all involved. They all actually spent most of their reviews criticizing the play, which left little room for the actors etc. but still, not a good thing for ticket sales or egos, for that matter. But our audience attendance has been much better than anticipated, considering the bad reviews, and, surprisingly, they have been enjoying it! And this is where the savviness of the director comes in. He has displayed the reviews, in their entirety, outside the theatre, and during his speech he spends a lot of time discussing them, and then encourages people to go read them, and to tell him, after the show, what they think of the production, good or bad. He then tells them that he doesn't know whether people will like the play or not, but that he set out to do what he had intended to do, and whether it was worth it or not, was up to the audience. What he is doing, essentially, and which is a very clever ploy, is getting the audience on his side and setting them up to enjoy it, by lowering their expectations. I'm not sure whether he's conscious of what he's doing or not, but it certainly is working!
There are other things, but I'm too tired to get into them, and I need to go to bed. 2 more shows and the brain needs to function. But then, reprieve! We did have a great group of people, but......
Kiss another one goodbye. Until the next one.