Why would I do that?

Why would I do that?

I was recently asked, in light of my last few posts on the show, why I would speak of a. my attempt at perfection, and b. pointing out the flaws of the performances while doing this.  Some have even asked if I am concerned that people may think the show is less than any other theatre or amateur-ish in sharing the dirty laundry.

I respond thusly:

What I love about the stage is that sometimes, whether it’s a Broadway show or a local high school production, things happen and watching how an actor deals with them recover is exciting.  This is also a sign of how prepared they are.  For example, when my partner and I celebrated our 11th anniversary in New York, we watched the original cast of Wicked, sans Kristin Chenoweth, on the first day we arrived.  During the scene where Glinda confronts Elphaba each woman is holding her weapon of choice, a large wand and a broom respectively, and they circled around each other.  Then almost as though it were a pair of nun-chucks Glinda began to twirl her wand.  But then, it got snagged on her dress!  So she threw the wand down and put up her dukes.  This was such a memorable moment of that performance, without question! The audience laughed, cheered, and then applauded that whole moment.  It was incredible.  But to see that the woman playing Glinda never looked like she wasn’t in control the entire time blew me away.  The first thing that I said to Perry as we left the theatre was, “How did she not freak out?!?”

So, to answer the questions.  I am aiming for perfection each and every night so that I know in my heart that I have put everything I can to creating a solid performance for each show.  While I may only now be speaking of this goal of perfection, I have to admit, it’s one that I try to do every single performance.  I want to feel like I’ve worked as hard as I could to make that patron leave happy and that the ticket was worth it.  Because what is Art if it has no heart?   This of course leads to the question, ‘if you are noticing all the things you did wrong, aren’t you removed from the moment on stage?’ Um, no.  Well, if I was only worried about spitting out memorized lines, then maybe yes that would be the case.  But I am so familiar with everything that my version of Bert Bratt is that when it feels off, I just make a little mental note and think about it when I am off stage.

I admit, I understand why they ask these questions.  No, I am not concerned about the quality of the show.  We have very strong performers in the cast who are wonderful people to work with and make this production a joy to be a part of.  But I have never said the show isn’t great.  I speak solely of my mishaps and weird stumbles, which have been trivial in the overall picture of the show.  Who’s going to remember those things happening? No one.  That’s how minor they are.  Am I really sharing dirty laundry if I am speaking only of myself?  I think not.  I am stating facts, not theories.  I know that I did these things wrong and I recovered well from them.  Did anyone in the audience see? Don’t know, but I doubt it.

I point out my flaws because that’s the beauty of live theatre.  You never know what is going to happen.  No show will ever be duplicated.  Ever.  The audience is always different and as such we as actors react a little differently too.  What if a moment happened on stage that was pure accident, like the Wicked one, that leaves such an impression on someone?  I often comment at how bad my memory is, but that moment in the show is so clear and vivid, I still can see it and smile.  Things like that, then become a shared experience.  Something to connect you to other people. And deep down inside all of us, there’s a need to be connected to others.  A need to know that we aren’t alone.  And that little experience you’ve shared with others is a very small but comforting thought when you think about it on a cosmic scale.

Shame on me…

I am experiencing the strangest, um, cycle…no.  That isn’t the right word for it.  Sadly, I don’t have the proper way to say it concisely.  With that in mind…Lemme tell you a story.

So when I began working on this show, I was elated. I was joyous.  Over the moon, even.  During the six week rehearsal process, from staging to building the characters, from rehearsing in an echo-y room to finally getting to the theatre, from playing with my fellow actors to venting with them, I have seem to come to a point where I feel stagnant.  And I am absolutely ashamed to say it.

I don’t know what it is about this particular play, but right after Opening, I’ve just been feeling like I am in the middle of the road.  The preview shows were fun as was Opening Night. However, since then while I am energetic and enthusiastic off stage, I personally feel like what I am putting forth is stale.

But if I were truly in “the moment” how in the hell, could find myself in the situation I am in?  I don’t believe that I have ever played the same scene twice in a row.  I am sure that it’s for selfish reasons, because I think I’ve played the way I have to illicit different responses from my cast mates.

I actually felt bad when I walked out to thank the audience for seeing the show.  I hung out in the far back of the group, trying to not be seen.  I wish I didn’t even go out there, but Rosa herded everyone out into the lobby, so I got stuck in the group.  Even meeting Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano Theatre and author of Zoot Suit, was super cool, but I didn’t feel worthy of his compliment.  I ducked out of the lobby very shortly after that.  I was in my regular clothes and in my car before the rest of the cast even came back to the dressing rooms.

What makes you feel like you’ve stalled in the middle of your momentum?  How do you overcome this obstacle?  More importantly, once you figure it out, how do you prevent it from happening all over again?

Let me know what you find that works for you.