Shrewpost 13: the run begins

Tuesday, the students mostly slept. There were some gasps when Tom and I kissed, but generally it was anti-climactic.

At the Wed. mat. we were giving away tickets. Depressing.

Friday night we had a raucus house and delivered a sparkling show. Friday night houses are usually dull, peopled with the well-to-do who can afford the pricey weekend tickets. Actors usually enjoy the mid-week evening houses best, when the commoners come, the ones who don’t mind going out mid week to see theatre. These folks usally feel engaged. They have made some sacrifice to be with us, financial and otherwise. We feel it and respond. But this past Friday took us by surprise. Maybe this is how things are at The Lantern?

We had two shows Sunday, during the monsoon. Executing the crossover across the roof was like taking on a howling gale. The lights were possessed, and Dael had to improvise cues when a breaker kept blowing, probably because of the water leaking though every crevice in the old building. We were adjusting our blocking, creeping towards the lighted spots, trying to look nonchalant. And some orchestra was rehearsing in the church next to us, so at random moments one could hear an echo of this great Wagnerian swoon coming through the walls. That with the weird light made for a strange show indeed. We were all spent and punchy backstage. Conversation alternated between the gutter and the goofy.

We have dropped into that workman-like relation to the piece that comes around the second week. We own it, warts and all, and we are more relaxed with it. I sense an ease on stage that leads to new discoveries. Mine are coming mostly in the second half, even 4.5. It seems to work best the more Tom and I can connect. A friend said to us afterwards recently that he felt like Petruchio and Kate had this secret joke that made it all make sense, even though he didn’t know exactly what the joke was. Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. How satisfying when someone gets it unprompted. Other friends have been flattering too. Thank God for them. It’s not that what they say is always meaningful in itself. It’s more emotional than that. We need the affirmation, the support, the reinforcement.

We’re 1 for 3 for reviews. Whatever – I knew this one wasn’t getting any raves. At least no one was nasty. One thought the all-male cast was all for naught. Another said the misogyny was unaffected by our efforts. But a third was complementary. I experieinced that curious tension in the dressing room in the days after the reviews. Our strange male reserve acquired a kind of hardened texture to it, as if we were all wearing a layer of lacquer. And of course we were. All performers do. It’s our psychic armour, fending off critics, our own doubts and life generally. How amazing that any of us can lose it in time, the lacquer melting off at “places” revealng our tenderness, so that we can step in to the light in front of strangers wide open and ablaze.