14
Jan
08

#30: Hey Everybody– It’s Good

Dear Friends,

Last night was our Designer Run-Through: we ran the show, in its entirety (for the first time) for the designers and other staff members.  And guess what?

 It’s good.

There were about as many audience members in that rehearsal room as there were cast members, but I’m telling you, the place was charged.  The storytelling is clear as a bell, the acting is strong across the board, the choices are interesting and provocative.  Sometimes it’s hilarious; sometimes it’s heartbreaking.  It was a really good first pass.

You can tangibly feel it– the realization setting in — when you’ve got a good one on your hands.  Let’s be honest: theatre is hard.  Shakespeare’s even harder.  But every once in a while, a production just starts firing on all cylinders and reaches, I don’t know, the speed of magic.  Every theatre professional, every board member, every season subscriber has seen at least one of those shows.  A really bad play — again, let’s be honest– is fairly hellish to sit through.  It’s much easier to watch a bad movie than it is to watch a bad play.  But a great play– a truly great play?  There’s nothing like it.  Unlike a great movie, when you’re in the audience of a great play, you’re part of it.  You’re a participant in it.  You contribute to the energy in the room.  And you leave with a feeling that sticks with you for a long time, and keeps you going back, time and time again, sitting though the so-so plays, through the productions where everyone is trying their darndest but maybe just not reaching the speed of magic, searching for the next time you find it again.

Now, it would be ridiculous for me to proclaim, this early, that this will be one of those experiences.

But it could be.

And we all felt that last night.  I guarantee you every artist in that room last night left feeling like the bar had been raised by every other artist in that room.  Which will make every one of us want to work that much harder — as an actor, designer, stagehand, or marketer — to reach magic time: because it’s in sight.

Because sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes all those cylinders just aren’t firing and you can’t exactly tell what it is, but it’s just not quite transformational.  And other times it’s just plain bad.  We call those turkeys.  And you can feel that, too.  It’s a feeling that I can only describe as the absence, or photo-negative, of empowerment.  It’s like a dementor’s kiss.  Which has the same domino-effect that a bar-raising show does, only the dominoes are falling backwards. 

And you don’t realize it right away.  By the time you reach technical rehearsals, you have a pretty good idea, but once audiences starts attending– that’s when you know what you’re dealing with.  I remember being in a production when, during the first preview performance, an actor walked off stage and said, “Get out the cranberry sauce; we’ve got ourselves a turkey.”  And he was right.  That was a long two months. 

But not this time.  This time just might be something.  So keep that cranberry sauce on the shelf.  Save it for November, baby– we’ve got ourselves a SHOW.

I’ll keep you posted,

kr

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