Last night was it. From here on out it for keeps for Richard III. Once again the moment of opening a show in front of people is upon me and my cast mates.
As such, I don't think I want to spend a great deal of time on dissecting it. I have said previously in this blog over the years that I don't believe in that old theatre adage about final; rehearsals. (That the better they are, the worse opening night will be.) That being said, I will mention that last night went well. Several of my scenes, especially in the first half seemed to have more energy, and the director later agreed. She said it felt faster, though upon timing it it was still an hour and fifteen minutes for the first half, as it has been the last several time we have run it. It would seem that An hour fifteen is as fast as it is going to go. The director pointed out that it was a fast hour fifteen though. Few dragging parts. The action was moving along nicely. That's good to know.
I got one note about something to try for the rest of the performances, and I will do so. Margaret and I worked out the moment we were asked to create the night before last, so that's solid.
As for my biggest scenes, they went as follows:
My longest and most draining scene. The offering of the crown to Richard. I remembered most of the edits for the scene. Enough for them to make sense to the audience. nothing is a sure thing in theatre, but I feel confident I can remember to do it tonight and the rest of the performances. As for the rest of that scene, it was probably one of the best runs of it. I still get somewhat nervous before it begins, and I still think I can give more, but it is much more solid to me than it was even at the start of this week, and I cannot ask for much more than that. I go over that one in my mind each night before rehearsal. (I don't have time during the run, as I have no breaks of significant time in Act III.) What needs to be there is there in my mind and heart. I need only bring it out for the next four nights.
My execution speech. To begin worth it was quieter backstage when I was giving it last night than previously, but it seems it is impossible to keep it quiet at that moment. I even asked the ASM about that. He said he tried. Some improvement is better than none, I suppose. It just means I will have to be all the more compelling and focused during the scene.
I'd like to report that last night was the best the speech has ever been, but I can't. It wasn't poor. There were no mistakes, yet it felt somewhat flatter or more shallow or something. I won't say I am worried at this point because I know what I am presenting to the audience is a good performance. But I want very much to reach that place I have been looking for within myself during the short speech. We will find out in about eight hours (as of this writing) if having an audience will provide what I am looking for. It often does, after all.
The ghost scene. Now that the timing for the costume and minimal make-up has been ironed out I need only think about the actual entrance and speech. If the crowd scene is one of the most important for the audience, and the execution scene is one of the most important for me personally, the ghost scene is probably the most fun and satisfying. I suppose many actors would enjoy playing a vengeful ghost, so I claim no unique perspective in this.
Yet it isn't mere about being the bogey-man in the scene. As in life, Buckingham travels comfortably alone in the ghost world to take care of his business, perhaps recruiting the other ghosts in this torment of Richard. Perhaps he spearheaded this haunting. But even if not, as I am playing him he is almost a satisfied ghost. As though he, of all of them, would have been free to move on to the next life, but actually opted to stick around between worlds just long enough to deal a blow to Richard. His language in the scene is different than that of the other specters and furthermore, as I said, he stands alone in our production. Physically. So why not play him in a different fashion as well? Last night this scene felt right on target. There may be a few nuances I can add tonight and in front of subsequent audiences, but by and large it is right where I want it to be. (Richard likes the way I play it as well. It seems I cannot be seen, except in shadow, under the stage lights, until the last minute.)
After rehearsal some of us went next door to the theatre to the British pub for a drink. (Yes, really. Kicks ass, doesn't it?) We toasted our future audiences being good ones. I don't know if toasting such a thing can make it happen, since it is up to us to give the audience a good show to respond to. But surely a bunch of actors coming into a British pub after doing Shakespeare all night can't possibly hurt the matter either.