For earlier diary entries, go to the Spd D8n page.
Thursday night – opening night.
I sat in and watched the first performance, an understudy tackling my short but enthusiastic cameo.
This was the first time I’d heard the complete play since early rehearsal, but now with fully fleshed character reactions and mannerisms, lighting, sound, and … well, … everything.
My nerves were bubbling – for the cast, for Therese’s first show as director, and for my script. All revealed to public scrutiny at last.
Fortunately, they did a great job.
For once I was able to turn off the critical editor voice in my head and just enjoy the performances.
Besides monitoring the audience reaction like a hawk, of course.
It’s satisfying (and greatly relieving) to hear laughter at key jokes and punchlines, but also interesting to see which ones don’t get expected responses.
Sometimes a seemingly innocuous line gets an unexpected laugh, or a personal favourite gag might fly silently past without troubling the scorers. There’s even the occasional “Aww” at certain character moments.
Best of all though: no snoring.
The reactions vary across the nights, every audience is different.
We listen out from the green room, gauging what sort of crowd we have. There’s always the nervous wait for the first proper laugh, with the potential for a long laborious evening if it isn’t forthcoming.
This is where a loud laugher in the audience is gold.
At heart, people are shy, needing a certain critical mass before feeling safely anonymous in the crowd to vocalise a reaction.
Unless a guffawing person comes along, who acts like a catalyst to make it okay for everyone to get noisy.
Polite chuckling barely carries backstage, causing casts of comedies much performance angst and evaluation of life choices.
But get a loud laugher along, cacking themselves at the first hint of a joke, then everyone quickly sighs in relief and gets on with the job as usual, with no emergency contingencies of donning funny noses, accents or other desperate new re-interpretations.
So, next time you’re at the theatre and someone is laughing like a drain, give them a thankful pat on the back. Especially if it’s an odd wheezy laugh as they may actually be having an asthma attack.
These people are freeing you from the shackles of self-consciousness, emancipating you from inhibition, enhancing your enjoyment.
Those people who sit laughing uproariously to themselves on late night trains? They’re a slightly different demographic. Approach with caution.
And so, the nervous first night energy has turned into a more relaxed process, almost routine.
The green room is host to some quite random topics and tangents. There is an easy-going team camaraderie going on in the cast and crew, which is always one of the most enjoyable things in doing a show.
Ideas for improvements, trims, and additions happen as I watch the monitor, listening to reactions, weighing up line modifications. I look forward to collating the director’s and actors’ opinions and notes of what worked and what didn’t, so I can get cracking on a post-show rewrite.
A positive first night review does wonders for morale. As does positive feedback from audience members after the show and on the FacialBook.
Social media cross-liking continues apace.
A few days off, now back to do it all again.
3 more nights to fill, so we can’t get complacent. Two weeks has been about right for the run. It has whizzed by, but won’t outstay its welcome.
Next Time: Pass the rubber gloves, time for … The Wash Up