Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot Ticket

I wish the title referred to how many people were beating in the door to come see our matinee. But no, i am actually referring to the fact that the AC was not functioning out in the house, and that made for a rather sweltering experience for the audience. Which consisted of about 12 people. There are only 11 in the cast...

The performance was alright. Several people thought it was the best so far. While good, I personally think Saturday night's went better overall. But that could be because there were virtually no laughs from the few people yesterday, while there were several people Saturday night that understood some of the subtleties, and hence were heard laughing. I can't be sure.

I am sure that my energy in some scenes was lower than it should have been. I'm not talking lethargy here, but I could have used more bounce in a few of the scenes. My most animated scenes were fine, but I think I slipped a bit in my more passive scenes. (If Hamlet is ever passive...)

The umbrella business went easier than on Saturday night. I can't remember the exact mechanics of what i did, but I hope I can repeat it for the rest of the run, because it was much easier. Even though things were in a somewhat different position than previous nights.

One thing that wasn't in position was a barrel of swords in Act Three. These swords play a critical role in one hectic moment of the scene, so an interesting challenge arose.

I start off Act Three hidden on stage behind an umbrella for about 15 minutes or so. During that time I clearly see the area where the swords are supposed to be. And as the lights came up I noted that they had not been placed. I knew this would require some kind of ad-lib later on. But what, exactly?

What is supposed to happen is that eventually I walk up stage, notice that the "ship" is being boarded by pirates, and yell "pirates" to the other on stage while turning and grabbing a sword from the barrel. I then yell to the others, "To arms," and they grab swords. Brief slap stick hijynx then ensue. Having a good 20 minutes or so to ponder how to make up for this I went through my options.

1) See if I could somehow signal to actors waiting in the wings across from me what the situation was. This I dismissed quickly, as I would have no idea how to sign out such a scenario.

2) Instead of walking up stage before yelling "pirates", I could walk off stage and yell same, and hopefully in those few moments locate the swords and then bring out enough for everyone when I entered the stage. For much of the time I thought this would be my plan. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what would happen if I wouldn't be able to find the swords? I figured they couldn't be far, but I couldn't be 100% certain they were right off stage.

3) I thought about ignoring the missing swords altogether. Playing out the scene in exactly the same way, only "To arms" would mean to look for, but not actually find any weapons, and then proceed. This is almost what I did. But what I went with was...

4) I did everything as normal. I went upstage, yelled "pirates", and then turned to the others and yelled instead, "find me a sword."

You see at this point I don't know if the other actors have noticed the missing barrel or not. Ideally what I figured this would do would be to cause us all to run around in the exact same manner, looking for a sword, before exiting, instead of brandishing swords and then exiting. So I proceeded to run to the places I normally would have done. The other three ran off stage, muttering, "sword! sword!", and actually came back on with the swords. Turns out they were not far off stage after all. They handed me one and I took it. But I wasn't sure if I should then begin the blocking over again, or, as the nominal leader of the half assed charge, I would just cut to the end of the blocking, and exit. This is what I did, and everything turned out fine. I would be very surprised if the audience knew it wasn't supposed to be that way. I must commend the other three on stage for their excellent cover.

Live theatre. At least in this case I had plenty of time to ponder the improvisation. I have many times had to work through a mistake instantly. I am just glad i had time to think this one through.

I must admit I look forward to a break of a few days from doing the show. Despite the great improvement we saw over the last week I was getting tired. I should be refreshed by the time we do the pick-up rehearsal on Thursday. (Though three people, including one of the leads won't be able to attend it, unfortunately.) Then onto the second weekend, which will hopefully be better attended.

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