Scorched-post 8: opening and beyond

Tuesday before opening was one of those shows. Everyone moped around backstage. “I suck tonight” was the mantra. I had one of those out-of-body performances, when I am periodically looking down on myself performing, muttering, what a strange little creature you are, and what are you saying anyway?

But it set us up for opening. It was a good opening. We were relaxed, and yet fed off the expectant energy of the audience. We had many congratulations after, and a late night dance party which I stayed for, then paid for the day after. Then, we gradually settled into the run, each of us finding out how to play the piece without stress, worry, fatigue. By the weekend, I had finally stopped maniacally pouring over my script before each scene. I was trusting myself. It reminds me of the learning sequence a mask teacher once taught me: 1. unconscious incompetence, 2. conscious incompetence, 3. conscious competence, 4. unconscious competence. We moved from 3 to 4 at the end of last week.

And so the fun begins. Without the intense concentration the early shows require, ones whole being relaxes and the space between small moments opens up. There is room for the authentically thoughtful, for the the body to lead the mind into a moment the way it does in natural conversation, for two actors to find things in plain sight. Alphonse and the play have only grown on me, and I’m forcefully putting aside the reality of our inevitable end. Two more weeks of shows and I will relish every one.

We have received two good reviews. The NY Times came for the Sunday matinee of opening week and we are holding our breath for that one. A rave from them makes the possibility of moving the production conceivable, though in these lean times, it then become only barely conceivable. Scorched doesn’t strike me as a play a group of producers would think they could make some money off of. In fact, in many ways it strikes me as contrary to American notions on culture, art and entertainment. A three hour play about a dysfunctional family and the horrors of war? Maybe in Paris, but I doubt in New York . . . we’ll see.

Scorched-post 8: opening and beyond, originally published  Saturday, March 14, 2009