Sunday, March 06, 2016

Send Off

Due to there being no matinees, last  night we closed "A Night of One-ders" at the Black Box Arts Center.

It was our largest crowd of the run. (About 20 people) and in many ways was probably the best performance. It lagged in a few places it had always lagged, but overall energy was up, and I'd say we sent the show off on a positive note.

What can really be said at the end of a show such as this? If you've followed this mini-adventure since it began here on the blog, you know that this production was spotted with certain problems. Some of them were preventable, and some of them were not. It was usually difficult going, and for a time, at least to me, was worrisome. I wasn't convinced we were ready to open when we did.

Truth be told, the second weekend was in many ways stronger than our opening weekend, so in some ways that theory played out. However, opening weekend was acceptable, which is better than I expected at one point.

I always felt rushed in this show, always a bit more on edge than I like to be. More so than I tend to be for most shows I'm in. This was due in part to the fact that it was three shows crammed into one hour, both of which required a lot of stage time from me. I didn't get nearly as much of a break as I like to re-calibrate, especially between shows. No intermission either. I'd probably have to consider it long and hard before I tried out for something in this format again. (As in, being this rushed through the whole thing.)

As for the people I would work with most of them again, gladly. I probably will, in fact. They are all local, and I have known some of them for years.

Now the process of gently stripping away the thoughts, feelings and affects of this production, so as to prepare my artistic spirit for the next project(s). Being in a play is almost always the prime expenditure of creative time and energy during a run. Now I can reallocate that to other things I've been working on.

Oedipus Rep intends to have another show in June, auditions in April. It hasn't been decided what it is yet, so I don't know if I will audition for it or not. But I have plenty of time to think that over, and they have plenty of time to decide what they want to do.

For now, back to "normal" (read: non-production) time.

As always, thanks for following along on my journey through this show. Check back often to see what my next theatrical endeavor, thought, or idea will be.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

One left for One-Ders

Since we didn't have matinees for this show, tonight's performance will be the final one for this production.

But first things first: last night.

We started late last night because our sound/light guy was late. It happens. You don't want it to happen, and had it been an hour later, I'm sure I would have been more annoyed. But it was only about 20 minutes, and I just wasn't too put off by it. Some were more angry about it than others.

The performance itself had its ups and downs. The energy for the longest show was a bit low, and at one point something happened that threw off the rhythm for a bit. To be honest, I'mnot sure what happened, exactly. I suppose somebody skipped a line or something like that, but I really don't know. You'd think I would after all this time, but it occurred in a part of the play where I have no lines for ten minutes while on stage, so I am not as in tune to every nuance as I am in other places.

I never zone out. I work extra hard to make sure I am conveying a character, and telling a story when I have extensive time without lines in a play. In fact you have to pay particular attention to such stretches, as an actor who is just standing there without responding to either his character's thoughts or the actions happening around him on stage will stick out like a sore thumb. As my departed directing professor once said of such situations, "You might as well hold up a sign on stage that says, 'hey folks, I'm a fake.' "

So, I strive to not be a fake. There is a lot going on in the scene. But because I allow my character to react directly to events as they unfold in the scene, I don't know every line of it. Whatever went awry last night, it was something I couldn't jump in and fix without looking totally stupid.

The set changes continue to be a problem. People not sure what to do, in the pitch black, no work lights. These were planned out and rehearsed all in one night on tech week, and never really worked on again. Rehearsal time for these changes was probably the least adequate part of the show. I myself screwed up during a set change last night. I thought someone needed help moving something, so I grabbed it, but they didn't. It was already set. The issue was corrected quickly, but nonetheless I got confused as to what I was supposed to do for a moment during the always chaotic scene change.

I don't mind doing some extra work as an actor, especially in community theatre. That's the point. But I have to say, I have very much disliked having to stop and totally commit to a set change in what little time I already have between shows to get into character and prepare. This show needed at least a skeleton tech crew.

I always feel rushed in this show. There is no intermission, and once I am on stage, I am only off of it for moments at a time until the end of the evening. Last night, I felt a little more on edge and rushed than normal. I think it's because it was our first performance after the hiatus. An ever so thin layer of rust, perhaps, despite the pick up rehearsal. I predict I won't quite feel that way tonight, for the final performance.

There were about 8 or 9 people in the audience last night, so sadly we haven't been packing them in. Tonight being Saturday may bring a bigger crowd, especially since I and some others in the show have friends coming this time.

One more time for everything in this show, both the stuff I like and dislike.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A Pick-Up Pick-Me-Up

Last night the most of the cast met for a pick-up rehearsal of the show. Two actresses and the director were unable to attend.

If you are familiar with this blog, or with community theatre, you'll know that a pick-up rehearsal, between two weekends of a show, often is seen more as a chance to goof around, as opposed to rehearse the show in earnest.

I've been to a few of these that have ended up as a total waste of time, so much messing around was there. One time a director even called it off right in the middle because of its fruitlessness.

About half of the shows I've been in haven't even bothered with a pick-up at all.

I've even been a few where the director insisted on it being a full fledged "tech week revisted" rehearsal. (Though I've found this is the most difficult position to get everyone to agree to.)

Last night was an interesting hybrid of a pick-up. We ran all three shows, including basic blocking and (about 90%) of the lines properly. A few stupid hats, a lot of silly voices, and a few other small gags made their way into the mix. And I don't mind.

I don't mind because not only did we review (albeit informally) everything we needed to, we all had fun with one another. Fun as people, as actors, as volunteers in the same project. There is enjoyment in performing and doing well, but it was an at times tense final week of rehearsals. It was in some ways a nerve-wracking (though successful) opening weekend, with all the ritual and anxiety that goes along with same. Last night gave us a refreshing chance to be loose again.

That silliness, on top of being halfway done with the run I think gave some of us a better understanding of one another. Maybe not a "cast bonding" moment, as so many people call it, but it did provide a level of camaraderie that hadn't quite been achieved yet-a level that wouldn't have been attained with a full throttle rehearsal, nor with an absolute chaotic manure-show.

Pick-ups are a weird creature anyway. You've done the show, you've proven that despite flaws, you're able to perform the show in front of a crowd. You've had your first days off from the show in a week. Then you come back and "rehearse" again. Sometimes a show really needs it, and sometimes it really doesn't. But in either case to me it feels like hanging out at your high school after you've already passed your final exams. You're technically still a student, but you've essentially done all you can do before graduating. It's like a "lame-duck" rehearsal in many ways.

And of course, this was the last rehearsal for this show, since it's only running two weekends. Never again will this group get together to practice this thing in any fashion. It's performances from now on. We want the final two nights to go  better than the first two, of course, but in a real sense, once you have a pick-up rehearsal, the momentum shifts. It's downhill now, from a time (not a quality) standpoint. With a pick-up rehearsal coming up, there is a small buffer. That buffer gone, we really are coming to the end, even though only half of the performances have happened thus far.

I'm glad we had this chance to goof around on stage as actors in the low-pressure environment that was our pick-up rehearsal.

Next performance: Friday at 8:00PM.