One down, three to go. Three more chances to play, to discover, to invent and explore, to realise, to actualise, to – oh, I could go on, but really, I should take a shower and cool down.
Last night, our opening night audience included friends and family, colleagues and students, and their friends and partners. In other words, the home team, very supportive and responsive, some of them theatre makers themselves, and some relatively new to theatre going.
The idea that you can sit in the audience and also contribute to the discussion and to the action on stage can obviously be confronting, but that is something I hope to change before the end of this run. This is one of the challenges I have set with this play, how to create an atmosphere in the theatre which encourages participation, which is clearly not about humiliating the audience, but about engaging with them on equal terms.
Last night, when my character asked for a volunteer to speak some Shakespeare text, someone came out and did so. The short improvisation that resulted allowed me to share yet another vocal quality with the audience, and to highlight yet another aspect of performance that was not otherwise mentioned in the script. And so the work evolves. It is never the same, we do not repeat ourselves, our rehearsal process has been totally geared toward being present to the actual moment, going with the flow in every sense of the word. That doesn’t mean we don’t have marks to hit, climaxes to arrive at, stories to tell, lines to remember. It’s just that we do it as we encounter it, and that means being actually present to the audience that happens to be in the room, and responding to their responses.
Last night, one member of the audience interjected freely throughout the play, prompting me when I forgot my lines (part of the script, I assure you – my forgetting, not his prompting!) so I had to deal with it. He knows his Shakespeare, and was most free in sharing his views on points of interpretation, and his opinion of when we, the performers, hit our marks as he perceived them. I wish he would come every night, because he would have something different to respond to every night.
We are in the process of making the kind of theatre I enjoy. It’s alive, inclusive and it deals with the human condition and some of the philosophical concepts we humans love to toy with. That sounds dry, and it’s not dry by any means. It’s warm-hearted, funny and even a bit silly. And I’m probably going on too much, but I’m pretty sure there won’t be any reviews, and somebody has to tell you about it, otherwise how would you know?
I’m now exploring the idea of setting up a live stream on Friday night. I need someone to operate the computer, and an external mike, so if anyone is willing to lend a hand, give me a bell! One way or another, Dame June Bloom will be heard!