Monday, October 04, 2010

"I Should Like to Get This Over With as Soon As Possible"

The title of this post is a line from A Thurber Carnival. It's not a big line, and it wasn't even my line. But I think it best sums up how I feel, and have felt, as I post this final entry about the play.

I didn't post anything about Saturday night's show. I'll say quickly that it went about as well as Friday went. Though not without mistakes, (from the usual suspects.) The fact of the matter is, the second weekend actually diminished in quality compared to most of the first. The laughter was about the same, but from a performance stand point, we did better on the whole during the first weekend.

So much like the previous night was Saturday that I don't really see the need to write about it in any great detail.

Today, on the other hand, being the closing day, warrants at least some commentary, both performance related, and as pertains to other things. I'll start with the actual performance.

There was an honest mistake during the much hated word dance. I'm not angry about it, because the person involved rarely makes mistakes, and her dedication to doing well was always obvious. I wasn't sure how to fix it though. But one of my friends and veteran stage actress simply jumped to the next sound cue line, thereby bringing the music change up, and leading us to where we needed to be. Not that that made the dance good. It sucked from day one, and 100% of the cast hated it from day one. The audience didn't get much out of it either, as usual. Though they got much more out of later segments.

It was not our largest crowd, but for some skits it was the most vocal and responsive. Especially during the skit involving a discussion of the play Macbeth. The didn't seem to be into Preble though. Which is sad because it remained, from start to finish both my favorite skit in the production as well as the smoothest and most well done. That one has been on autopilot for weeks, so well did it go. Though it didn't happen today, that one was always the source of my biggest laughs in all of the production. I will miss doing it the most of all five of my appearances.

Second place would be The Unicorn in the Garden. Short, sweet, and silly it too always went well. (Once the choreographer kept her nose out of things.) I had precious few lines, but always a big laugh line at the end. And I got to stretch my non-verbal acting muscles. I enjoyed and appreciated the chance to do that. My opposite and I played off of each other well. (Which we also got to do during Walter Mitty.)

If Grant Were Drunk at Appomattox didn't go smoothly of course, because the same problem guy was in it. I'll get to that later in the post. I wish more audiences would know the full story of that skit, because he doesn't deserve the laughs he always gets at the end. (While delivering his own doctored version of the closing line. He wasn't happy with the way it appeared in the script. Like much of that scene...) I'll miss that sketch the least, for obvious reasons.

The rest of my sketches went pretty much exactly as they always did. During the curtain call as we danced off stage in party hats and blowing noisemakers, I opted to yell "yeah!". Why? Because I could. Because it was all over. Because it accurately revealed how I felt about it being over. And because I wanted to own at least one moment in the run that was marked by my own little personal curve ball. So I did. Annoyed some people, but honestly, at that moment I didn't much care. I did it for me. (Unlike some, I did something just for me after the show was over, not in the middle of a scene.)

Yet it was a hallow victory for me. For the responsive crowd was too little, too late, in regards to making the final leg of this taxing, exhausting show 100% enjoyable. Which leads me to some final thoughts about both today, and in general, pertaining to non-performance issues.

To begin with, there was even more garbage to deal with from the same trouble maker that has been, quite frankly, a huge dead weight on this production from the beginning. I hadn't been at the theatre for ten minutes today before he was once again having words with the director. This time, it was about his refusing to help strike and clean up the venue after the show.

If you are reading this blog for the first time, or otherwise have no theatre knowledge, know that helping to tear down the set, put things away and cleanup the theatre after a show has closed is part of the gig. It is what actors who volunteer agree to do when they agree to take a part. Refusing to do it is basically like rehearsing for weeks, and the simply refusing to show up on opening night. It's not done. Period.

I could just ignore this. Maybe. Just as I could have just ignored all of the terrible things this man did throughout this already difficult production. I didn't ignore him in person two weeks ago, because I think he was being unfair to everyone around him, myself included. (And especially to our technical crew.) I have managed to ignore him both in person and on this blog since then. But now that the play is over, and in light of today's antics, I have opted to mention more of my assessment of him and his effect on the play.

I do this not as a personal vendetta, or to stroke my own ego. I have plenty of other outlets for that, if I ever need them. But I opt to go into this here for two reasons. First, because of the promise I make to my blog readers to always be as honest as I can about my theatre experiences, without being indiscreet. Second, because once again his actions and comments towards other members of this production were totally without merit. I'd rather look like an ass on a rant for a few minutes in defense of misjudged people then look like a quiet, contemplative professional and say nothing about the major insults he has perpetrated on those that don't deserve them. Judge me as you will, but enough is enough.

Late Saturday night, our stage manager sent out an email with strike assignments. Anyone reading their email in the morning would have seen it. And it is not unusual. Some stage managers don't even give strike assignments until you get to the theatre on the final day. In response this morning, this guy had sent an email to  cast and crew. Naturally, I refused to open it, given that I haven't wanted anything to do with him since early tech week. (As our blog oft hath shown...) But when I heard him making his pitiful excuse today to the director, (who was angered enough by it to yell at him), I eventually went back and read his email. More on that later.

He told the director, (in plain sight of everyone else gathered) that because this was his first appearance at Full Circle Theatre company, he had no reason to expect that strike and clean-up would take place right after the final show. So he had made other plans.

You can add "liar" to the list of adjectives I already apply to this man, as far as I am concerned. Because anybody who does community theatre (especially someone like him who claims to have done it for decades) knows full and damn well that strike and clean up is always right after the final performance. I didn't believe for a minute that he was unaware of this fact. I think it was yet another way for this wretched man-baby to avoid doing anything he didn't want to do, and to stick it to anybody who insisted otherwise.

The director seemed to feel the same way, but being too busy with other things to put up with even more of his sniveling, she basically told him to go away. (After pointing out to him that all theatres strike after the last performance.)

And then he proceeded to be terrible while on stage, as usual. Blowing lines, late entrances, and just overall sloppiness of presence. (Most of which I had to cover for, of course, since I am in all but one of his scenes.) Loyal blog readers know I forgive mistakes made by hard working people. (As in the dance today, mentioned above.) I do not forgive mistakes made by the arrogant and/or lazy.

The show had enough difficulties without being saddled with the laziest, most inconsiderate, dishonest and down right mean spirited talentless hack with whom I have ever had the displeasure of appearing on stage. Being a lackluster actor is one thing. Having a bad day and flipping out once in a while is one thing. Being a tiny bit of a diva even is one thing. But to be so unconcerned with the welfare of either fellow actors, the director, the stage crew or anyone at all but himself is something else. Especially when the guilty party has zero stage talent to balance things out.

I read his excuse email after I got home from strike and the so called  "cast party". I replied to him with the only words I have sent in his direction for two weeks, and hopefully the last I will ever send to this bum. I told him that I smelled BS, and clicked "send." Enough is enough.

I'll read nothing from him that comes back, if anything does. I'll certainly not work with him ever again. As in I will write his name on any audition application in any local theatre I'll try out for to make sure it doesn't happen. In my ten years as an actor, that is a first.

His presence, especially in the last two weeks, without a doubt put a huge damper on this show. Others are more tolerant in person than I, and can engage cordially with such folk. But my suspicion is that nobody really wanted him around. That nobody enjoyed him.

Not that he was the only thing with which people were unhappy. I am sad to report that there really was no cast party even for those who remained. People did their strike duties as quickly as they could, and were quite literally out the door. Which continues the pattern. This is one of the few shows I have been in wherein there was not a single night of drinking, eating, or otherwise socializing after any of the performances, opting instead to leave the premises post haste. Schedules certainly may have played a part, as may have the personalities involved. But I have to believe that at least part of it had something to do with an innate desire to see the back of this experience. To "get this over with as soon as possible." At least in regards to the cast party.

It's sad, in a way. But not really a surprise. Assuming that most of these people would have stuck around had all things been equal, I can see why so many of them just wanted to be gone today. It was a very stressful, exhausting, and in some ways depressing production. One that was survived as opposed to enjoyed. And though I may have been the most vocal, some brief comments from others today did indicate that I was not the only one who had grown weary of certain actions, certain problems, and certainly certain people throughout the last seven weeks.

I stayed for a while. There was some food, and I was hungry. I did want to thank the director for casting me, and be present for the presentation of the gift. And for the free glass of champagne. I wished it had all gone better for the director, and indeed for all of us. But like me, the director is jumping right into another show after this. (As director she had her first rehearsal of her new show this very night.) May that show go more smoothly for her than this one did.

In the end, I met some nice new people during this show. People with whom I would like to work again. And I also learned a few things about myself, and what my limits are. Here and there, I even got to explore some new non-verbal acting skills. (See: Unicorn.) So I can't say I got nothing out of the experience. But I can say that I didn't get quite enough out of the actual performing to make the bad worth going through. I am glad I continued to perform at such a high level despite the stress factors. But now I just want to put this one behind me and move on rather quickly. May the next time I encounter those that I like from this show be far more conducive to producing a high quality and fun show.

It is over. On to A Christmas Carol.

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