Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Catching Up

Despite the best of intentions, I often seem to let blogging about second weekend performances fall by the way side. But I can correct that mistake now, and do so expeditiously by concentrating on just one of the nights, Saturday night.

Not that Friday and Sunday were bad. They weren't. Friday was just smaller than the previous Friday, and Sunday was of course a matinee. (Though more people came to that matinee than the first one.) I'm satisfied in many ways with both of those shows, particularly how well 4.3 went. But without question the highlight of our second weekend was Saturday night.

For starters, it was a full house for the first time in the newly remodeled venue. I keep forgetting what that number is, but i think it's about 50 seats. That would have been a nice crowd even in the former house, though it would have only been about half of the seats. But a fuller, smaller house, not to mention one that is so intimate with the actors because of proximity adds many things to the show that even the other nights didn't have, or didn't have as much of.

The most of course is energy. Science would poo-poo it, but performers know better; there is energy in a crowd that can be used and reflected by the actor. Saturday's crowd was not only a full house, but a responsive one. A crowd that be it's very presence, (in many ways right in our faces) brought out the best in all of us.

That's not to say there were no nerves involved. Though I haven't felt nervous at the start of the show, I still get ever so slightly nervous before the start of the oft-mentioned 4.3. This was ever so slightly increased on Saturday. Yet it was in the good way, not the bad, for the most part. Enhanced focus and such. As a result, several of my line readings were somewhat different, enhanced by the extra energy. I use that energy in various ways, one of which is to think on my feet as to how I can deliver the line in news ways to express more effectively the character's thoughts and goals in the scene. It's not usually something I plan out, rather it happens as a result of the energy I have mentioned, as well as preparation.

Another plus? I pay extra attention to every word I am speaking, and I managed to not have rubber tongue at all that night. True, most people would never have noticed the times I did have it previously, but I always knew, and I was proud to have not experienced it through the whole show. (I didn't on Sunday either, to be accurate.)

I even had an audience member tell me afterwards that not only did I fully embody the character, but that my "diction was excellent." That's high praise any time, but particular in its sweetness when one does Shakespeare. I always work hard on my diction, and I am glad it paid off.

There were other little nuances throughout that showed up in my performances, as well as those of others. I saluted a soldier with my dagger right before a battle. It'snot a thing anyone does, I'm sure, but it seems to work in this parallel universe we've created for the show. Not to mention, it was all part of keeping the energy up. When you feel it, you don't want to let it slide.

I also delivered parts of my one and only "rallying" speech to the audience. Not directly to them the whole time, but as they are right there in front of us now, and as the director wanted us to make use of the audience when we could, it felt like a solid, effective idea to see the audience somewhat as troops about to head into battle with us. (Which in a way, they were.)

Yet I don't want this recap to be nothing but self-congratulatory. As I told (yelled) to the rest of the cast in the dressing rooms after that show, "That's the way it's done, people!" (I don't often do such things as that these days, though I used to do them more often in years past.) For indeed, everyone else I saw in the show was in the zone, en pointe, of whatever cute metaphor you want to use. i can say if all of them felt that it was their own personal best performance of the run, but I know it was mine, and I know all of them seemed quite happy with what they had done. I heard of no issues.

I wrote the cast and told them as much once I got home that night. 

I'll admit that even now I find Malcolm to be an odd Shakespearean character. As I told the Talk Back group last weekend after the first matinee, it feels like about five pages of his story are missing from the play. I think I'll always feel that way. But after Saturday's performance, and all of the "extras" that the energies of a responsive, appreciative crowd brought to the surface of the show, I felt greater appreciation for portraying Malcolm. I felt even more a Shakespearean actor after Saturday night than I did before, and I have felt like one for quite some time.

So much so, I think I carried some of that with me in to the matinee the following day. It of course did not measure up to Saturday night, and the crowd was small and quiet. But I have to say it was better than the first matinee, and I'm willing to believe that at least some of that is due to the injection of confidence and enthusiasm we all received from an excellent Saturday night.

Nothing this week at all. A week from Thursday is one pick up rehearsal. A week from that is another, full dress pick up, and then, on Halloween night, our Birnam Wood will come to our Dunsinane, and the production will close.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Macbeth Matinee 1

If you don't know I hate matinees, you have never been to this blog before this summer, so welcome.

That being said, our first one went well. I wasn't feeling 100%, outside of it being the exhausting time frame of a 2:30 PM show with a 12:30 PM call. I think I might not have had enough protein by the time the show started. But I was able to focus where I needed to, and though i didn't throw a perfect game, I made no major mistakes. My guess is that I made none that the audience would have picked up on, which if not a perfect game, is sort of like a no-hitter. Maybe.

My mother was in the audience, and she enjoyed the show. (Though she did request a brief synopsis of the plot earlier in the day before she got to the theatre, since she is less familiar with Shakespeare than I.)

Also, 4.3 went well, again. I admit I am still a tad nervous just before that big scene comes up, but it doesn't last too long, I suppose.

The crowd was smaller than it was on Saturday night. But a few of them stayed afterward for a Q&A. I didn't have any direct question to respond to from the audience members, but the director did ask me to elaborate on Malcolm a bit. I gave a brief rendition of many of the things about the character I've already shared here on the blog.

I am happy with the first weekend, but I think it ended just in time; I was in need of a break from the show, even though it went well. The impression I get is that many of the others felt the same way.

We report for a pick up rehearsal on Thursday. Three days off is good; haven't had that much of a break in a few weeks. Second weekends often have a totally different feel to them...something a bit energizing in a way that opening night is not. We are all Macbeth "veterans" now. When we reconvene in a few days, it will by in that context, and i think that tends to raise the confidence of an entire group on a subconscious level.

Unless there is some major development, I probably won't post about the pick-up rehearsal. It's not interesting material, and may not even be a full rehearsal, according to the director. Check back in on Friday to see how the second weekend kicks off.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Saturday's All Right for Fighting...and Macbeth

Good show tonight. In fact, our best to date, if you count full rehearsals and such.

To start with, the energy from a crowd of about 30 (our of 55 total seats) set the tone. As did the relief of it not being opening night anymore.

Energy was good. Pacing. All the components were in place for a show that was satisfying to perform, and exciting, (as far as one could tell) for the audience to watch.

I still got tongue tied once. I'd like to have that not happen anymore, but I corrected within the line, and it didn't ruin anything, so far as I could tell. It's just a matter of personal pride to throw a "no hitter" as it were. Yet i don't want to put undue pressure on myself, or the opposite of what I want is likely to happen. So, one performance at a time, one scene at a time one line at a time. That's the way it needs to be done, even if it is tempting to thinking too far ahead sometimes.

I do that a lot with Act IV scene 3. My longest and most intense scene as Malcolm. Though I don't let it distract me from the job at hand, that scene is never far from my mind once the show starts, even though I have much to do before getting there. (Not to mention there is intermission.) I won't call it an obsession, as that makes it sound unhealthy, but 4.3 is no doubt a focal point for me in this production. I go over it a few times in my head before the show starts, and then again between intermission and the scene itself. It's almost as if I haven't officially started my performance until that scene comes up, even though I've already done quite a bit of acting by then.

That scene was also probably the best it's been so far. At least my rubber tongue didn't show up in that scene this time.

My final speech, that closes out the whole show also went well. Better than on opening night. Plus unlike the previous night, the lights went to black out right after I finished my line. I may not have the largest presence in this particular show, but I admit I kind of dig having the final moment of it.

Sadly, next is the matinee for the first weekend. My mother will get to see the show, which is a plus, but it's still a matinee, and still a bit of a bane.

Still, it's Shakespeare, and I have a job to do. My powers are ready and my lack is nothing but my leave, as Malcolm himself might say.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Opening Night: Macbeth

I'd love to report that it was perfect, but it was not. I flubbed a line or two, (though i didn't forget them...just mushed them about for a moment.)

Also, a brief lighting snafu at the start of the show delayed the opening for a few minutes.

Notwithstanding, the first performance was a success, both for me personally, and for the show as a whole. The director was happy, I was happy, and I didn't encounter anyone in the cast who felt otherwise about how it went.

Some of us went for drinks afterward.

Only one person came to Thursday's open rehearsal, so last night was for all intents and purposes the first audience we had. The renovated space seats about 55, and I would say we had about 15 or so people come see the show. Though I didn't count them, I could have, given the far more intimate nature of the space. It didn't bother me as much as I thought it might, but it was different, and does take a bit of getting used to. Every move just about anyone in the audience makes, you can detect from on stage.

I added a war cry for Malcolm during the final rehearsal, because it felt right, and because that scene, which does take place right before we attack Dunsinane, always felt a bit low on energy, and lacking in urgency. So I kept it for the opening, and will keep doing it for the run.

Something happened to my script, however, and I'm not happy about it. I didn't need it, obviously, to get through the show, but I always have it around for reference and review. A back up and a means to time how long before I need to do something. Someone else was kind enough to let my borrow there's, but why mine should have to be moved from where I left it is beyond me. I will search the place again, even in places it has no business being, before the show starts tonight.

Opening night. It's usually fun, often a bit nerve wracking, and should be, if you've done your work as a show, a time to celebrate. Such was the case for us last night. But to be honest, I am happy opening night is over. The very things that often make the opening of a show exciting can also make it an outlier of sorts. The newness, the questions, the higher than average nerves-level. Once it's over, your mind becomes aware that yes, you are capable of performing this show in front of people who paid to see it. Being watched is no longer new. A certain relief sets in that allows you to to enter a type of comfort with your characters, the movements, the performance as a whole, that you can never quite reach during rehearsals and opening night. This was especially true for this show, since the entire place had been remodeled.

 Even if your opening night doesn't go well, it's great when it's behind you.

This doesn't mean you can get careless after opening night, nor does it mean that everything will then be perfect, and nobody will have nerves. But novelty can be a funny thing, and once it's gone, the potential for even better performances is there. The first Saturday or a two weekend show has been the best performance with the best audience in most shows I have been in, and that is probably no coincidence.

So I look forward to tonight, because it sort of the first real performance on an emotional level.

I'd like to find my script, though.