Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ghost of Productions Past

Into whose domain the Full Circle's "A Christmas Carol" is now consigned.

The final show on Sunday went well, but I think the night before was probably the best overall.

As is the case with many shows, I think there was a sense of relaxation to the cast, given that is was the last show. This relaxation often leads to a more open performance on stage, which in turn leads to new ideas. Irony of ironies, the final performance of a show often represents the turning of a corner of a show into improved creativity.

If only that sense of openness and relaxation could be captured earlier in a run... This is why I have for a long time advocated a three weekend run for community theatre shows. It has happened on rare occasion, but in general, it is not done. But I maintain it is the best thing to do.

With amazing consistency, the arc of a production I am in is as follows. You get through opening night, iron out the bugs on the second night, and the first matinee is lower energy, but technically a better presentation of the show.

You slack off a bit during the week, but also get to rest. Assuming you had a productive pick up, there is a renewed excitement on the second Friday, and the show goes new places...finally hitting a great stride.

80% of the shows I have been in, the second Saturday is the best performance of the show. A corner is turned and you know you have nailed down much of what had been bothering you.

Then the final matinee comes, and as I described above, the show is flying in many ways it had not been flying before.

And then, you strike the set, and everybody goes home.


With a three weekend show, all of that peaking that starts to happen way too late in the process can be capitalized upon for a third weekend...and instead of having one or two great shows at the end of everything, the average show can have one great weekend, and possibly a half.

Yes, this is a bit of a digression from the actual play I was in recently. And it would not apply to all shows every time, naturally. But as a concept, it really is frustrating to hit that stride on the final day, and it happens so often.

I concur with those who are thinking that enough preparation would make a show sparkle earlier. Legitimate point. But there still seems to be some sort of magic veil in community theatre that requires a show a bit of extra time to reach that zenith. I cannot explain it, I can only recognize it. Make of it what you will.

As for the actual show I was in, as I said, it went well. And some scenes, due to the last day phenomena, went better even than they did the previous night. The now infamous Topper scene, to which I have referring often in this blog, was wild with it's energy. As was the dance during the Fezziwig scene.

As for me personally, I had a bit more difficulty getting into the correct main frame to do the Cratchit mourning scene. I did it, and am satisfied, but it was not my best run of it. I think because that last 30 minutes of the show, where I play about 4 different people, with barely a minute to spare in between them, plus my one and only tech job of the show all running together was a particularly draining prospect on the final day. (Even I fall victim to the temptations, good and bad, of a final performance. I'd be lying if I said I did not. So would any actor.)

Audiences in general seemed to enjoy the show. So I suppose that makes it a success. But it was a very grueling production at times. Building the theatre while we rehearsed tech week. Having no real tech week. Construction people who did not care how loud or disruptive they were of same. Several cast members showing little to no inclination to follow direction of ANY kind, and certainly showing ZERO respect for theatre etiquette. As well as the director not always receiving the respect her position demanded. A conspiracy of such factors tends to weigh on the emotions of even the most seasoned and professional actor. (It did at times, to mine.)

But, the overall success of the end product despite all of that is something that I cannot ignore.

However it managed to happen. And I cannot rule out a Christmas Mini-Miracle.

Next stop for me? Who knows. Full Circle shows are already casted up through May, when they will put on "The Importance of Being Earnest". No idea if I will be involved in that. But, I do not have to decide that now. I have Christmas to tend to.

And so do most of my readers, I dare say. So here's to the end of another production of mine, and here's to all of you. Merry Christmas.


Kris said...

Came across your blog by accident, and fully agree with your comments on community theatre productions running for more that 3 weekends. We run 4 to 6 in my local community theatre, and there is a big difference between those nervous-energy first weekend performances and the fully-grasped the show final performances. And, when it's a cast who likes each other, there isn't even a burn-out factor.

Ty Unglebower said...

Welcome to the blog, Kris. Thank you for your comment. I am quite surprised, however, that your community productions find people that are willing to commit that much time to a show. Do not get me wrong, I think that's a fantastic way to do a show, as i said. But around here, the theatres seem to refrain from it mainly because they do not think people would want to commit for that long. I wonder if more committed people would show up, if more shows advertised a 3 or 4 week run. Some may fall back but the new crop of people may be better overall.

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Ty Unglebower said...

Thanks Ruth! I look forward to your enjoying the blog in the future!

Anonymous said...

I was a member of the audience for the last Sat. evening performance of your show and found it very good and enjoyed myself. A job well done!!

Ty Unglebower said...

Thank you! Do try out Full Circle again someday.