Not that Friday and Sunday were bad. They weren't. Friday was just smaller than the previous Friday, and Sunday was of course a matinee. (Though more people came to that matinee than the first one.) I'm satisfied in many ways with both of those shows, particularly how well 4.3 went. But without question the highlight of our second weekend was Saturday night.
For starters, it was a full house for the first time in the newly remodeled venue. I keep forgetting what that number is, but i think it's about 50 seats. That would have been a nice crowd even in the former house, though it would have only been about half of the seats. But a fuller, smaller house, not to mention one that is so intimate with the actors because of proximity adds many things to the show that even the other nights didn't have, or didn't have as much of.
The most of course is energy. Science would poo-poo it, but performers know better; there is energy in a crowd that can be used and reflected by the actor. Saturday's crowd was not only a full house, but a responsive one. A crowd that be it's very presence, (in many ways right in our faces) brought out the best in all of us.
That's not to say there were no nerves involved. Though I haven't felt nervous at the start of the show, I still get ever so slightly nervous before the start of the oft-mentioned 4.3. This was ever so slightly increased on Saturday. Yet it was in the good way, not the bad, for the most part. Enhanced focus and such. As a result, several of my line readings were somewhat different, enhanced by the extra energy. I use that energy in various ways, one of which is to think on my feet as to how I can deliver the line in news ways to express more effectively the character's thoughts and goals in the scene. It's not usually something I plan out, rather it happens as a result of the energy I have mentioned, as well as preparation.
Another plus? I pay extra attention to every word I am speaking, and I managed to not have rubber tongue at all that night. True, most people would never have noticed the times I did have it previously, but I always knew, and I was proud to have not experienced it through the whole show. (I didn't on Sunday either, to be accurate.)
I even had an audience member tell me afterwards that not only did I fully embody the character, but that my "diction was excellent." That's high praise any time, but particular in its sweetness when one does Shakespeare. I always work hard on my diction, and I am glad it paid off.
There were other little nuances throughout that showed up in my performances, as well as those of others. I saluted a soldier with my dagger right before a battle. It'snot a thing anyone does, I'm sure, but it seems to work in this parallel universe we've created for the show. Not to mention, it was all part of keeping the energy up. When you feel it, you don't want to let it slide.
I also delivered parts of my one and only "rallying" speech to the audience. Not directly to them the whole time, but as they are right there in front of us now, and as the director wanted us to make use of the audience when we could, it felt like a solid, effective idea to see the audience somewhat as troops about to head into battle with us. (Which in a way, they were.)
Yet I don't want this recap to be nothing but self-congratulatory. As I told (yelled) to the rest of the cast in the dressing rooms after that show, "That's the way it's done, people!" (I don't often do such things as that these days, though I used to do them more often in years past.) For indeed, everyone else I saw in the show was in the zone, en pointe, of whatever cute metaphor you want to use. i can say if all of them felt that it was their own personal best performance of the run, but I know it was mine, and I know all of them seemed quite happy with what they had done. I heard of no issues.
I wrote the cast and told them as much once I got home that night.
I'll admit that even now I find Malcolm to be an odd Shakespearean character. As I told the Talk Back group last weekend after the first matinee, it feels like about five pages of his story are missing from the play. I think I'll always feel that way. But after Saturday's performance, and all of the "extras" that the energies of a responsive, appreciative crowd brought to the surface of the show, I felt greater appreciation for portraying Malcolm. I felt even more a Shakespearean actor after Saturday night than I did before, and I have felt like one for quite some time.
So much so, I think I carried some of that with me in to the matinee the following day. It of course did not measure up to Saturday night, and the crowd was small and quiet. But I have to say it was better than the first matinee, and I'm willing to believe that at least some of that is due to the injection of confidence and enthusiasm we all received from an excellent Saturday night.
Nothing this week at all. A week from Thursday is one pick up rehearsal. A week from that is another, full dress pick up, and then, on Halloween night, our Birnam Wood will come to our Dunsinane, and the production will close.