Opening night has come and gone and I have to admit it felt a little deflating. After giving so much of my time on this one and having neither the thrill of being on stage nor the credit of being a director is saddening. This is selfish I know and for a long time I have been content to play second fiddle but that contentedness has worn thin.
I do not want this to detract in any way from the show that was put on last night. Both plays were performed well and I’m sure the 12 people who came along appreciated it. The laughter the actors received was encouraging. Both shows are funny in very different ways. ‘This is a Play’ affords the actors the opportunity to show, all be it a fictionalized account, a beneath the skin glimpse of what goes on inside an actor as they perform. I worry about the fact that given the performance requires mistakes, the actors will relax too much and become sloppy. I see their professionalism when they take the stage and the fervor in their eyes as they asked for direction so I know I shouldn’t but worry is part of my make-up.
‘Never Swim Alone’ is slick and clever and made up of rapid dialogue and wit. The actors have created a remarkable rapport that is necessary for them to bounce so quickly off the other. Their fine suits and stiff almost rigid way of walking conveys a no nonsense board room demeanor but yet, just as in the first play, it’s the seething mass of emotions going on beneath that captures our attention and takes the play to the other end of the emotional scale.
I feel like this is a deeply negative thing to say about the theatre but now is the time to get into the routine of performance. My job as Stage Manager for both plays means I have to ensure everything is in its place for the opening volleys and take the stage to make announcements before and during intermission. At intermission I reset the stage, bring the large life-guard chair back into the theatre from where we removed it to and to place all props where necessary. At the close I then reset again for the next day. This means moving amongst the actors in the narrow dressing room that sits directly behind the stage. These can be awkward times, the actors need to be getting into the right head space and my interruptions to get props doesn’t help.
As Assistant Director I want to ensure the actors are properly warmed up both physically and vocally. Last night I felt there wasn’t enough and focus was slightly off but this also comes from a small audience. Tonight I might tread on a few toes as I attempt to get them into a performance gear.
As Lighting Designer I had to reset a few lights that have been moved when bulbs were replaced and tonight I may well do the same as the light was far to uneven for the second show and left me less than satisfied. Tweaking that I would have like finished but time leaves it to during the run.
But somewhere in there a routine will be developed and we will all become accustomed to the movements needed to put the show on 6 times a week. Hidden within this however is the pure pleasure that comes from hearing an audience react to the nuances you’ve attempted to craft and all the time and effort put it that is seldom seen. If it is seen when you don’t want it seen you are not doing your job well enough. After the work is done I will take my place in the audience and gleam from them the satisfaction I sorely miss.