Saturday, November 05, 2005

Last Call...

The curtain call. I see it as having basically two functions, and only two. It gives an appreciative audience a chance to thank the actors, especially their favorites. It also gives the actors the chance to bask a bit. In the case of musicals, it also gives the band a chance to be recognized.

While it does have a nasty, and deserved, reputation for sometimes being ham feed, theatre is just not the same without a curtain call. What a moment a simple bow to an applauding audience can be. Particularly for small roles, scene stealers, and first time actors.

Theoretically, there are almost as many ways to present a curtain call as there are shows that they are designed to conclude.

So which is best? To me, this is basically like asking which restaurant is best. Everyone has his or her favorite, for whatever reasons. I feel the same way about curtain calls. There is usually no right or wrong. Only preferences of the director. That being said, how do I prefer mine to go?

Mainly, I think it is actors and actresses who should be taking curtain calls, and not characters. The concept of the "in character" curtain call is one that I have never enjoyed, as a director or a cast member. Once a play is concluded, the 4th wall vanishes.

This is one reason I am against them. When the 4th wall is up, and the characters are interacting, the audience is transported to that world. Yet when the show is over and the audience is waiting to recognize the players, how exactly does the actor playing a reclusive hermit stay in character, and still walk forth and take a bow? Not without astounding awkwardness, and clunky curtain call blocking.

Furthermore, when characters die in the course of the play, die hard advocates of the in-character curtain call, (whom I have worked with) will not allow that actor to even take a curtain call; the illusion of the death is shattered. That is a horrible thing to do to an actor who worked as hard as everyone else.

Which is, of course, in the end, the least appealing trait of this type of curtain call; it deprives the actor of the chance to bask and enjoy the moment. It also deprives the audience of a chance to applaud a performance that they were moved by. This is fair to neither party.

I have played some good guys, and honestly some I'd rather give the audience a chance to applaud for an exhausted Ty, than to make them squirm as I try to remain a convincing psychotic killer, while gracefully taking a bow on center stage.

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