So, at last we have done it. We have opened A Thurber Carnival at The Full Circle Theater Company.
So much strife and confusion this week, and in the previous weeks that it seems in some ways we just started rehearsing this one, due to it being in a bit of a mental fog in my mind. In other ways, it seems like longer. Either way, there is an unreal quality to the whole thing now, which carried over into tonight.
It was like I was in a holding pattern, or some kind of theatrical stasis. I never felt particularly excited nor fearful the entire day. Earlier this week I was quite concern, nay, worried about some of it. And I assumed at the time that I would be a bit of a wreck in the final hour before curtain. But I wasn't, really. I was just...there.
The impression I got was that many of my cast mates were "just there" as well. That isn't to say that they didn't care about doing well. They did, as much as one could given our state of affairs leading into tonight. No, it was just more of a since of resignation. "We are here, and we have put work into this, so let's at least make something out of it." But no chemistry between us. No palpable anticipation of the first scene. No real excitement. It all felt rather utilitarian. We had a job to do, and did it, period.
Not exactly magical, or artistic, as I like theatre to be.
I was telling someone it was like we were all on a bus trip, and the bus got stuck in deep mud. And after hours of grueling work, getting dirty, hurt, and exhausted, we finally got the bus out of the mire. But we were so spent in getting the bus out, that nobody was really all that excited about getting to where we were going. We were just happy to be back on the bus so we could collapse into sleep. Tonight was getting that bus out of the mud. We made it. The opening was passable, and I got a few laughs in some of the scenes I was in. (Preble, without shock, was the most well received of my scenes.)
Well received that is by the 12 or so people that were there. That's right, the house was about 12. Or, just barely more in the house than on the stage. I am sure this also contributed to the feeling of numbness. Not much feedback. Almost as though it were a dress rehearsal. We had about that many people for the first half of our last rehearsal, as I blogged yesterday.
So I wasn't even that nervous when we got to the much maligned and over produced opening dance sequence. As everyone predicted, it was clunky, slow, and felt very awkward to perform on stage. I think we got most of the moves down right, but they just don't come together as a very appealing package. Too much hesitation and uncertainty on our part. Too much standing around waiting for the music to get to the right place. Too much freezing in place. Too many moves that bear little connection to the type of play it is. As I have oft discussed in the "dance problems" sections of these entries. (The choreographer herself was not present today.) It's just bad choreography all the way around. But, relief of reliefs, that is at last over. And one of the few times I felt some degree of excitement was leaving the stage after the seemingly endless dance scene finally concluded. Weeks of tortuous rehearsals of it, and now it had finally been performed for an audience. That was a good feeling to have it behind me for the rest of the evening.
I did feel other things here and there on this numb opening night. I did get nervous a few times as we approached some trouble spots, and I am always a little keyed up before I do my two biggest scenes, (which come near to each other in Act Two), but for the most part, not a lot was going on in my head.
I didn't see everything, and I heard talk of some major problems in one scene. But nobody else ever brought it up again so it mustn't have been calamitous. Each of my own scenes went well, and I confess to having some fun doing them. Preble again wins out on most fun skit for me.
Not to be uninformative, but tonight really didn't feel much different than last night. It felt like a rehearsal, and I think most of us treated it as one in the sense that it was our first real chance to run through everything without interruption. Will tomorrow feel more like a performance for me?