Friday, November 03, 2017

Jekyll and Hyde (Belated) Round Up

So it has been several days since the run of Jekyll and Hyde ended. I could and should have updated before this, but I think part of me needed a break from even thinking about the show.

The second weekend overall was better than the first. By a hair, the Saturday night show was probably the best over the closing matinee. But the latter was surprisingly well attended, and most of us in the show had decent energy because of that. Two near full houses in a row will do that. (Though there were times I found people laughing at dramatic places, hopefully not because of our performance.)

It was in some ways like another opening night on Friday. As I've said often throughout this production, we were working through some obstacles on this one, not the least of which was a shortened rehearsal time. So while there is usually almost no nervousness for me on a second weekend, there was some remaining. (Especially since the pick-up rehearsal wasn't exactly solid.) Not as bad as the first night of the show, but more nerves than I am used to by second weekend.

I am happy to report that some of the lines I had been messing up the first weekend, or in some cases switching around or unintentionally paraphrasing were corrected in the second weekend. Not all of them, however, as I realized when reviewing certain parts of the script later. I don't ad-lib my way through a show on purpose, and I don't like to paraphrase, (even though it's usually slight.) And I am always extra certain to get someone's cue line correct. Yet for this show, perhaps because of the reduced rehearsal time, or because of a highly disagreeable cast mate, I found myself less able to get every word into my head as written than i usually am. Better than I thought I was going to be by the end, but I prefer to be better still. (Even though I had a ton of lines for this one.)

I won't belittle myself or beat myself up over this, though. Sometimes one's best in one show is just not one's best in the next show. "Best" is what we have in us, earnestly offered and polished by hard work on a consistent bases throughout the rehearsal process. It took me a while to realize that even when we try hard, and do everything we are supposed to do, we aren't always going to have as high a quality ceiling for every single show. The key is to strive for it, want it, do one's best, and accept it in the end. (Mostly.) I would like to have done better with this show, but on the whole I have to say I still did pretty damn good, given all that was going on.

My director said she was happy with what I did in the show, so I have that to remember in the future as well.

Though I wouldn't want to have this many lines, and be on stage for that long on every show I am in, this does prove that I have it in me to do so, and that I have extended my comfort zone to some degree. Throw in the fact that originally I stated I preferred to not play Jekyll, and my overall ambivalence toward the original story of the novella, and I have come a long way in, I hope, giving life to the character that was familiar for an iconic personality, but also unexpected in places, with some aspect of myself and my own creativity thrown in there.

On the back wall of the stage were the words "Aliud et idem," as part of the graffiti design for the space. That was my contribution. It is Latin for, "Another, and yet the same." I couldn't think of a more appropriate short phrase to sum up the experience of Henry Jekyll, in both his own eyes, and in the eyes of this around him. Hyde(s) were different from Jekyll, another being, and yet part of him, the same. How much did he really change as a result of the "perfect tincture"? How much did he stay the same. The questions apply to "Hyde(s)" as well.

And also to the concept of theatre, here at the end of another run of another play. I've done this for years now, and no production is ever the same, even if it's the same play, or the same actors. It's always a little different. The same excitement, different triumphs. The same difficulties, different annoyances. Different show, but all of them are the human show.

They are another thing, and yet the same. Aliud et idem.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Jekyll and Hyde (First Weekend)

In short, we got through it, though it was rough in places.

Due to various issues beyond our control, our rehearsal time for the whole process was shorter than normal, and tech week itself was also diluted, as I talked about in entries from that time. So in some ways, scary as it was, the first weekend was a bit like extended tech, but with an audience. I've already discussed opening night.

Saturday went much faster. Party because a few of the seams were coming together, and partly because, I would guess, of the slight relief that came with no longer having to open the show. (See previous entry.) It was the night of our smallest audience by numbers, and also the "quietest" though the jokes are few in this show, and that can be hard to judge.

I wish I could say I was without slip ups, but I cannot. I can however say that on Saturday night, and the following matinee, any slip ups I made were minor, easily corrected, and not frequent, as far as I can recall.

I'm not happy about these slip ups. I'm not excusing them. In fact, I'm not sure why I have so many of them in this show so far, (compared to my norm.) The large amount of lines I have, the extra stress with the show, or something else, I can't say. But just as a show has both artistic and tech elements, so too does any given actor's performance. I have been mostly satisfied, even proud of much of the artistic side of my performance as Jekyll so far. It is on my technical side, (clarity, speed, ease of delivery) about which I have been somewhat concerned. Not worried, just concerned.

Some of this has to do with difficulties to work through that would not be necessary but for the choices and attitudes of particular people at particular times. The buck, however, does in the end stop with me, and I could do better from a technical perspective. If I can't obtain perfection, (how often do we on stage??) than I hope to at least improve all aspects of my performance, starting tomorrow, for the second weekend of shows.

I find the second weekend of shows usually goes better than the first anyway, especially Saturday night. (Though this seems somewhat less true over the last few shows I've been in.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Opening Night: Jekyll and Hyde

It is done. Opening night. Though the final dress not a disaster, it was in many ways a rough night, and as a result, we were unable to run the show front to back as intended for performance.

Which meant opening night itself was the first chance we had to do so.

And did we do so? Yes. But not without some potholes.

I'll say that certain parts of the show have improved each of the last several nights, including opening night. Compared to where we were a week ago, things could have been a lot worse on our first performance in front of an audience. (I'd say about 25 people out of a house of 44.)

I was more nervous, even apprehensive about opening this show than any I have been in for years. There have been more uncertain variables and unexpected problems, (some of them avoidable if not for poor choices by certain people) that I wasn't sure what to expect at times. I felt prepared mentally going into last night's show, but I wasn't at all certain that all of the variables I mentioned would allow me to accomplish everything in my performance as intended.

For the most part, I delivered an acceptable performance. And though certain doubts still hang over elements of this show, which will probably make me more nervous each evening than I otherwise should or would be after opening night, I cannot doubt the great relief of having put our first official performance behind us.

There are just some plays where, silly as it may seem afterward, one wonders if it can be done. One wonders if on the whole the cast can actually deliver a show before a paying audience. With the completion of opening night, we proved in this case that we are capable. This of course doesn't at all mean that every performance of the show for the remainder of the run will be without issues. That's one reason I remain, at least for now, a bit nervous. But what it does mean is that we can do this show. The parts of my subconscious that perhaps wondered if I/We could pull it off at all have at least been quieted. That will make the hours leading into tonight's performance less stressful than last night's.

A few missed entrances for a moment or two were probably some of them ore distracting elements for me. I myself am unlikely to make that particular mistake, because I am almost always on stage, even when my character is not "present" in the scene. I skidded a few times with a word hear and there with my lines, but nothing I am overtly ashamed of.

The biggest issues last night was a door on the set; it broke in the middle of a scene...left hanging on one hinge. It is supposed to be this way at the end of the play, but for one reason or another it broke prematurely. The actress who had stepped through it was flustered in her attempts to fix it. I was flustered because it would throw the scene. As I happened to play Jekyll, and the actress happened to play Jekyll's servant in that moment, I "ordered" the servant to leave the door be, and tell me what she wanted.

Not the greatest possible save, but it was a gaping hole, almost literally in the narrative that had to be addressed somehow, at least until a techie came out and fixed the door. Had it been another scene, I don't think an ad-lib would have been as readily appropriate. So sometimes we must acknowledge that even goofs, if they must happened, can have good or poor timing. That one, if it had to occur, was probably the best timing available.

Otherwise, it was satisfying to me, at last being able to move about as intended. I am hoping we improve overall a bit each night. If we do, the first weekend may act as a sort of extended tech, allowing us to close out next weekend in high fashion.

But long before that, is tonight, and tomorrow afternoon.