#49: Snowflakes

Dear Friends,

 The hardest thing about closing the show last weeked was that we felt it had just arrived.  Which isn’t to say that our performances on opening weekend weren’t good– it’s just that it usually takes about five performances in front of audiences to really feel like you’ve hit your stride.  This is probably why many shows have five or more preview performances before opening night.  Here’s why I think it takes that long:

In the last week before technical rehearsals, you’re usually running the show.  But you’re running it without an audience, which begins to feel strangely like talking to yourself.  Everyone watching — director, stage management, etc — has seen everything already, so you begin to take risks, try new things, explore new territory, just to get a fresh reaction.  It’s a neat place to be.

But then, tech arrives, and you lose the show for several days.  The focus is on sound cues, lighting positions, and costume issues.  Usually, you only have time for one or two complete run-throughs before the audiences show up.

Then, you spend the first several performances trying to rediscover all that stuff you were finding before going into tech, while also intregrating the creative contributions of the rest of the team: costumes, sound, lights, etc.  Additionally, the audience reactions provide a huge amount of new information.  So it takes a while to sort through all of that.

For this particular production, I think we were finding depth and nuance in the days leading up to tech week that we lost for the first few performances.  The duping of Malvolio was heartbreaking, as were the departures of Sir Andrew and Antonio.  The reunion of the twins, and the subsequent coupling of the pairs of lovers, was a mixture of sweetness, confusion, and doubt.  Then, when the all the wonderful, colorful technical elements were introduced, everything, I don’t know, brightened up.  And I don’t know that any of us exactly realized it.  But at the end of the show, there was so much more laughter than we expected.

But as the week went on, and we settled into our new space and our new clothes, we began to rediscover the complexity that we were finding before tech.  Our final weekend of performances, I think, were very different than those of the previous weekend.

Again, this isn’t to say that the first half of our run wasn’t successful; but I do think that we came closer to fulfilling Paula’s vision of the story toward the end of our run.

Speaking personally, Todd and I felt like we were really cooking on Saturday and Sunday– I’d come off stage and wish I could rewind, and cut and paste that performance into our previous shows.  That’s the thing about live theatre– every show’s a snowflake: no two are exactly the same.



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