Sunday, March 02, 2008

"We've Reached the End of It...."

A quotation from my former character, Geoffrey, and as good a title as any for this last entry about the last day of "The Lion in Winter".

The first thing I have to say is that I was most comfortable and proud of my performance tonight, out of all the rehearsals and performances. On a closing matinée to turn in your best performance. Go figure.

But then again, the whole show was arguably at it's best today. Great energy, snappy line deliveries. The crowd was decent sized, and responsive. Not sure if they were as responsive as last night, but, as is often the case, with matinee crowds, they laughed less, but some of the things they laughed at were different than what other crowds laughed at. So it is almost worth the trade off.

For example, I could finally hear laughter for my favorite line, and the best line in the whole play, which I had the pleasure of delivering....

"I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We a knowledgeable family."

I am told other crowds laughed, but other than my mother, tonight was the only time I actually heard anyone do so. There was a discussion as to what may have been different, other than the crowd tonight. I delivered somewhat faster, with a slightly different rhythm, for one. And, as often is the case in a final show, when one feels a bit freer, I added a bit of something...I slapped Richard on the shoulder as I walked passed delivering the last part of the line.

Whether for these reasons, or others, they laughed. Bulls eye.

Not that this was be any means the only time there was some last day add-libbing. Not of lines, but of motions, expressions, pitch, movements, etc. Even from backstage I could tell my cast mates were playing around a bit more with someone of their lines...with an improvement just about everytime. (Why oh why do shows always peak when they are over??? Is it the extra freedom of the closing day? Or the exact amount of practice to performing tends to hit a ratio than peaks the show at that time, for a community theatre? A mystery I have never I have longed for a third weekend sometimes!)

Not all improvisations were intended to improve things. Sometimes, things had to be done to correct something. To give myself some credit, I think I pulled off one of the smoothest, most naturally motivated corrections of my career.

One day a few weeks ago, "John" improvised a moment, wherein he stood up on a chair, a delivered a line..(I'm king again!). Everyone loved it and we kept it.

But in performances, somehow the chair always got pushed under the table, making the move impossible. People wracked their brain to figure out what went on.

So as I was going out today for that scene...I was warned not to push the chair in too far, when I walked passed it. I made sure..but moments later, our "Eleanor" walked right passed it and pushed it in. The mystery was solved! But still no chair to stand on.

Then it hit me. In the previous part of the scene, Henry had left documents on the table. Glances over, I simply walked behind all the action, picked up the documents to peruse them, while ever so slowly pulling the chair out from under the table. (Henry and Richard and tearing each other up, meanwhile, center stage.) When it was out far enough, I put the papers down, and returned to my place...most people none the wiser. John did his move, and the scene ended. I was met with exuberant techies, who applauded my ingenuity.

I am proud, myself. You always want things to go perfect...but sometimes it is when things go wrong, and one must correct them, that one can truly test one's skills as an actor. It was by no means a huge deal...but to see a problem, solve it, and go back to the status quo, while creating believable motivation to do front of a live's exciting, and rewarding, when it works. Praise the theatre god, today it worked.

In other avenues, I found my minimalist accent was more pronounced and natural tonight. I never really worked on one in any great detail. A few words, suggesting something other than America was all I was really going for. But today it seemed to flow into more words, and come easier.

And so The Lion in Winter has given it's final roar. At least in this form. I shall miss it, more than most shows, as of course this was a dream role for me. I would do it again for another company next week if I was asked. I cannot say that for all shows I am in. Sometimes, once is enough. But this show, I could do again, and probably again. It's one of those shows for me.

I will especially miss my "vulnerable" scene with Eleanor. I have talked about it here before. Short, but rewarding part of the play for me. I will also miss the final scene, when the boys try to escape, and speak of killing Henry. Playing with the knives, telling "Mummy" to go to hell, after finally having enough of her antics. Having Henry toss me a knife from across the stage, daring me to attack him. (A knife, which I would like to point out for the record, I never dropped from day one in rehearsal or performance.) Such an intense scene, in a role where I was not usually that outwardly intense. Always winded and exhilarated at the end of it. "Gorgeous".

I will mis many other things as well. Those just stand out most.

I will not miss standing behind a curtain, unable to move for a half an hour. I will not miss the taste of tepid Shepherdstown tap water out of a silver goblet. I will not mis having no bathrooms backstage. But when you get down to it, that is not a lot to complain about for the chance to be in one of one's favorite shows.

I rose to the challenge that is Geoff, and the satisfaction of performing a dream role well is one I will not spoil with endless discussion. Suffice to say, in the end, though short, this run was very rewarding for me as an actor.

So my thanks to my director, the cast, and the crew of Full Circle Theater Company's "The Lion in Winter"...for making a dream role real, and letting me help to build even more onto this brand new company.

Now, that there is no chance of influence on me, I am going to go watch my favorite movie..."

"My barge is leaving, and I don't want to miss the tide...."

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