I really should be in bed. I will be soon. I normally don't blog right afterward, and I have been going on four hours sleep the last day. But It was important to me to write about Saturday's performance now, so it wouldn't have to be combined with some half-assed post tomorrow.
Simply put, tonight was my personal best night. Thus far, Friday night was the best night for the show overall in regards to consistent quality, but tonight without a doubt was my pinnacle. I never say never, but I feel it is unlikely to be reached again with only one more performance.
Things were different from the very beginning, in a rather innocuous way, or so it seemed. The worry bead I have been using for the character while on stage, just as a flourish, was missing today. I had gotten too used to fiddling with something during certain moments, so I scoured the green room and back stage, hoping to find a quarter or some other coin. I never did, if you can believe that.
I did however find a box of small washers in the shop. So I grabbed one of those a few minutes before I went out the first time. I didn't use it during my first entrance, but I did spend time getting used to how it felt in my hand before I went out. It should come as no surprise that it fit differently in my hand than did the worry bead. So I had to do different things with it. And those different things seemed to fit right in with "Tony". Not quite a tick, but certainly a consistent habit. Right away, walking around with it adjusted some small mannerisms in my performance, which in turn realigned a few things. By the time I got out on stage the adjustment was noticeable. Much like before, (as mentioned in recent blog entries) the skeleton of the character remained the same, but the outward expression of same changed.
It was that small change that led to bigger moments throughout the play. A bit more of a rough edge without dropping the polished look I have been working from nearly the very beginning. It left him more open to responses to other characters and situations.
By the time my first scene ended, I suddenly knew that I had struck a perfect rhythm with the character and the performance. I kept to myself between scenes even more than usual, and after my first costume change I convinced myself that it was going to be my night. And I suddenly wasn't as nervous as I had been, and felt much more secure in what was happening than before. "In the zone" as they say.
My longest segment in the play, which lasts about 10 minutes of stage time I would say, take place between myself and the lead character. Just us two for a while. It has been my favorite scene to do for a while, and tonight it was flawless. Part of that is of course due to the great performance of the actor playing against me. But part of it was the new focus I felt. Lines come out smoother, with better pacing. New ideas for gesticulations came to me at a moments notice. Subtle vocal inflections showed up when they were most useful. All props behaved as planned. Everything. The scene was as close to "effortless" and natural as an actor should get.
And through it all, the washer I had grabbed at random played a large part in the visuals.
Even my least favorite scene, (oddly, my shortest one) felt totally natural tonight. I did change one thing off the cuff. I sat on the edge of the couch when I normally stand. I did it because a sight gag is at full force during that moment, and I just seemed to be extraneous during that moment. So I figured the way to be the most invisible while that was going on was to just sit on the couch and read my newspaper. So I did. I think it worked. Everything worked, really.
One thing about the scene though, somehow I lost the washer during intermission. I looked for a while, though it had been in a pocket and I couldn't for the life of me figure out where it had gone to. But I didn't want to inflate the evening into a superstition about a specific washer. I knew the longer I looked for that one, the more likely it would become emblazoned with a false aura. So I just went and grabbed an identical washer and used that throughout act 2.
The oddest part is that through all of this, I was the more tired than I have been at any other point in the run. As I mentioned, I only had 4 hours of sleep last night, and a nap attempt mid-afternoon failed. I wonder if the fatigue had something to do with it. Maybe I was too tired for some of my unknown inhibitions. Or maybe because I was tired I had to concentrate extra hard to get everything right.
But no, I don't think either of those two things were the main cause. Contributors perhaps. But I like to think the biggest reason is the mysterious nature of hitting a stride at a certain moment. (Sadly with only one night left.)
I was drained and hot after the show today, more than usual. I had to lay down. But, all was well in the end. Nights like this make it worth it to an actor.
As do good audiences. Which we had tonight. Not a full house, but a big one. Not as responsive as last night, but responsive enough. No complaints on that front, save for the fact I can't seem to get any of my friends to be members of the audiences, much to my chagrin.
Which seems a good place to end this account. When next I blog here, "Heaven Can Wait" will itself be departed.