27 February 2011

No People . . .

like show people.

Last night, just before the second-to-last performance of Agamemnon, I was suffering through a nasty round of illness (related to a chronic thing I really don't want to write about here), and about 15 minutes before showtime, I had to inform the director, Barry Cavin, that I really didn't think I would be able to make it through the performance.  He simply said don't worry, that he'd talk to the other cast members, and they would cover for me.

What I hated about that moment was the admission that the illness was besting me, an admission of being weak, of needing to step aside, and so it was humiliating--of course, I had to let the director know, just so he could bolster up the cast. 

After I returned from the restroom, just to splash a little water on my face, to regain my bearings and to refresh with the night air, the cast members came to me, said it wouldn't be a problem, telling me that they really wanted me to make it through the performance.  My sister chorus members, Brittney Brady, Dana Jenkins, and Veda Roberts were especially empathetic and supportive (they dedicated a number of power lines to me), and it made me all weepy, really, to receive their generous words and understanding.  And the rest of the cast, including Brad, Nate, Kaitlyn, Tyler (her last words to me were especially dear), Kiara, Ryan, Ben, Casey, and Gabby, were also warmly encouraging.  What was liberating was that each affirmed that I didn't have to go on, which gave me some space and time to breathe and recollect myself.  I allowed myself the possibility of not having to go on so that I wouldn't have to worry about it.  It was that simple. 

As it turned out, I made it through the whole performance, and probably in its totality, it was the best performance of the run--among the chorus, we had greater urgency--and with the full house, we all were able to feed off the energy from the audience.  At the end, I was dehydrated, but none too worse for the wear, and there was just a simple shared giddiness of all of us making it through and doing such a good job of it.  And also as it turned out, this was the performance my son was able to attend, flying down from Evansville for a quick weekend visit.

So now the run is over, the stage is struck, and it's back to my more normal grind.  The play and playing, though, are still very much with me, still electric and alive yet.  And this time, I'm just feeling more grateful than usual.

20 February 2011

Run Half Done

Just finished the first week of Agamemnon, and we've done a pretty good job of it, if you ask me.

Of course, no night is ever the same, but we're at the point where we are comfortable performing these roles and are beginning to tweak it here and there, finding a little room to play off of another actor, what he or she is giving, and then add to it.  Barry Cavin, the director, has essentially given me one note to work on, which I played out during today's matinee.  It's near the close of the play, where the chorus is having it out with Aegisthus.  In our last rehearsals and into the first few performances, it was something of a shout-fest between me and Aegisthus (Brad Chiddester is doing wonderfully in that brief role), which was working on one level.  Before today's performance, Barry simply asked me to think about how little my character might actually think of Aegisthus.  From that prompt unfolded a whole new array of possibilities for me to turn on, and I found myself listening much differently to Aegisthus's complaint.  It'll be interesting to see how these new variables play out for me over the next week.

The challenge for the actors in this play is its sheer foreignness.  Trying to find psychological dimensions to the characters does little good, or at least from a 21st-century frame of mind.  That is not to say the piece does not have timeless qualities, but that the regular footholds for an actor to find purchase are really not there, save perhaps for Klytaimn√©stra (and even with her, the fissures of Greek tragedy make her character unrecognizably fractured).  Or, what is intriguing about the play is just how profoundly emotional it is, how the breakdown is all on the surface, and I constantly feel that every character is on a precipice, each alone, terribly so. 

16 February 2011

Opening Night!

Agamemnon opens tonight, and here's a terrific preview of it.

I can't say enough about my experiences working with these students, and yes, quite selfishly with Tyler Layton.  It's tremendous to be working with an artist in her prime, a craftswoman who is serious in her play and execution, but who can skip with a lightness and dexterity that reflects genius, nerve, and imagination.  What a lucky, happy time to be part of such a brave, little group.