Gypsypost 3: the run
It was an eventful opening. We needed another week – everyone knew it. And we all understood that the only way BRT could pull this off financially was with two weeks and tech. Consequently, everyone was working feverishly, straining to get to the finish line when we were all at about seventy five meters. As Mr. Henslowe predicted, it all did turn out well in the end, mysteriously, but then Tovah was felled by a virus, or by exhaustion, or by something and, after a couple of hours of chaos trying to get un-rehearsed understudies ready, management canceled the matinee after opening.
The following week it was my turn to get sick, and for the next seven shows my voice was entirely unreliable and my energy gone. But the show must go on (I don’t have an understudy). Now, a few days before Christmas, I’m finally feeling next to normal again. In fact, it feels like the entire cast has relaxed into this huge undertaking. What follows are some random backstage shots and reflections.
I am enthralled by the community of the greenroom. In our case it is a large group: cast, musicians, run crew, dressers, stage management, children and adults, and one very well-loved Yorkie, Lulu. In The Actor’s Way, I explore the ways in which the family of the theater replaces the family of origin (or the family of actuality), for better of for worse. This intense bonding is on full display here art BRT, as I’m sure it is in greenrooms across the country these days. Single older women mother child actors, older sibling/younger sibling relationships and rivalries are engaged, and a womb-like togetherness hold us all. I find theater people to be the most open minded and tolerant group I know, and our tendency to celebration and optimism is infectious.
The synchronous work of thirty or so people over two and half hours every night to make this thing happen is astounding. From the actors changing and prepping, the crew moving the scenery on and off and spinning the turntable, the musicians timing what they are doing to the actors’ work on stage via little closed-circuit TV sets they watch – it’s really pretty miraculous.
We all have a different relationship to this production. For some of us, it’s the role of a lifetime. For some, it’s the big break. For some, it’s just a job. For others, it’s eight weeks of Equity work towards health insurance. But none of that matters, because we are each called upon to do our best every night no matter our motives, dreams or circumstances.
There is a generational dynamic which is fun to be a part of it. I experience myself as one of the old ones in this cast – a veteran, so to speak. There isn’t any particular perqu to being a vet, but to my surprise it doesn’t’ bother me. I have a sense of my own experience and skill. I sense myself in the right place.
Actors who have been at it for a while have dignity. There is a quality of experience and focus which sets them apart, and a calm demeanor even when bothered by something. It’s as if all the excess energy has been burned away by the demands of this life, and all that’s left is what’s essential. And what’s essential is gentle, professional and gracious with a bawdy sense of humor.