Last night after I got home I sent a single text to our director:
"Now that is how you do Shakespeare."
She replied with, "Bam!". I think that covers it well.
Last night was indeed the best we have ever run this show. Energy was way up, lines were better, people connecting with their characters, and very few mistakes at any time. Even better, it was in front of an engaged audience of about 60. (In this small venue that is a terrific showing. In fact, it is the highest showing on that theatre for about a year or so.) It was especially nice, because I had a handful of friends in the crowd as well.
Richard III is by no means a comedy. There are, however, a few ironic moments that can be played for a bit of a laugh, and most of those moments received a laugh last night. My own character's moment of levity didn't receive as much laughter as that of some of the others, but nonetheless someone did laugh at Buckingham's ever so brief moment of goofing off.
In my opinion one could tell how the audience was responding to Margaret upon her first appearance. By the time she got around to interacting with my character, the tension was both clear and helpful for what I had to do. That moment has gotten better each night, as far as I am concerned. I don't say much in that scene, but I love being in it nonetheless because of those non-verbal moments I get to create. (Both before and after Margaret shows up.)
The my "meh" scenes, as I have called them lately. The one's wherein I am there, and moving things along, but not providing anything memorable or moving. All went fine. So we move to the "Big Ones".
Crowd scene. Best it has ever been. I played to the real audience more, now that I feel more comfortable with the scene as a whole. I am not getting complacent with it, never fear. Yet last night I felt better with it than opening night, and I imagine tonight will feel even better. I still have a lot to juggle, (and I am not sure how the audience feels about Buckingham appealing to them...), but now that I have done it in front of an audience twice, one of which being quite large for the venue, I am even more at ease that all is well with it. I can do a tad better in a few small places, but if I do it just as good as last night from here on out, I will not be displeased.
"Break-up" Scene. Richard and I both commented later that it seems to go faster than ever last night. We both wondered for a bit if we had skipped something, but we had not, it turns out. Just the force of everything before it moved it along faster than before, I suppose. (The whole show was almost ten minutes shorter than normal, without major line drops.) i think it may have helped the scene, though. Gives everything an even greater urgency.
Execution speech. To begin with, the tech crew seems to have at last found a way to make almost no noise during this moment, and I greatly appreciate it. As for the speech itself; I was correct that having a larger audience there would help. I am not playing it directly to anyone in the audience. At least not yet, (I have thought about it). Yet having them there and absorbing their energy gave even more to this speech. It was a little bit closer to my ideal than the night before, and hopefully will get even closer tonight. It's probably my most relaxed moment in the play.
I also added a small limp for the scene last night. Why? Just one of those list minute inspirations one gets on the stage. I felt, just before I went on, that it might indicate even better a Buckingham that has been on the run, caught, hauled to Salisbury and then drug to execution. His clothing and hair I already mess up a bit before that scene. Why not his body a bit as well? I think I'll keep it. It's adds to the contrast with the clean, proper, in control Buckingham of the earlier parts of the play.
Yet whatever happens, I know that I have brought that speech, both outwardly and inwardly, further in the last two weeks than I did the previous six weeks, and I am pleased with that realization. The preconceived notions of Buckingham may be too great on the part of audience members to sympathize with him as much as I'd like, though I don't know. It is written in such a way that I feel they audience could easily do so.
The ghost scene. I had a little less time to get ready for it last night between scenes, but I wasn't late. I just like to collect myself a bit before the other ghosts come on, and I didn't quite have time to do that last night. But it's of no true consequence, as I am comfortable with the scene, and it isn't a lot of work to get into ghost mode as I watch the other ghosts go out before I do. Perhaps it helps to not have as much time to think of the scene?
As soon as the lights were out at the very end of the play, the clapping started. That is always a good sign. As is hearing your friends hoot for you when you come out for curtain call. The energy from the audience carried over into the show, and after the show as many in the cast hung around to discuss things and enjoy some food and refreshment.
I wonder if part of why I did so well last night was do to my spending more time alone in the dressing room. I am not one of those, "don't talk to me!" types, and usually I can socialize, mildly, and still be in character when needs be. Yet last night I went back to my practice of withdrawing between scenes, (and just before the opening). The audience and everyone else of course had much to do with how well everything went, but I can't ignore that my best night with this show so far was the same night I kept more quiet to myself than I have been lately.
I have no idea what the numbers for tonight are supposed to be. My hope of course is that they are at least as good if not better than last night. Truth be told, Saturdays are usually better than Fridays in my experience, but I don't want to get my hopes up. I will say, however, that if we can get provide tonight's audience with as good a show as we gave last night, we will be in excellent shape. (And of course, I will be working to make better even the things that I did well last night. I am close to being able to see I did everything I could. Just a few more pushes here and there, and I think I can make that claim. No doubt I am at the point where if I repeat last night two more times, I will not be disappointed. I have done quite a bit with the character. Yet I always want to give just a little more...and we will soon see if that can happen in the remaining two performances.