Opening Night, and the Morning After

I haven’t written much lately – I’ve been a bit more than busy. My schedule has been full getting to another opening night, which occurred a little more than twelve hours ago. Here it is, Saturday morning, and I’m in a daze, unsure what to do with myself. I’ve got the day free, but am still reeling from last night’s performance and am anticipating tonight’s.

This play, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, is a big play. There are dozens of characters played by nine actors, using numerous actual sources to tell the story of Wilde’s love and trials. There are a lot of words. And a lot of interjections with little scenes and asides, often in seemingly non-sequiterian ways. Just memorizing lines became a challenge.

Theatre GarageLast night we opened to a huge crowd, who laughed at all the right places (and a few we didn’t know would be funny at all) and got very quiet, just the way the rehearsal room would, when we got to those other, more difficult and tender moments. The challenge of last night was to not let all the extra energy and stimulus in the Theatre Garage—a small, intimate space where almost every audience member can be looked at in the eye by every actor on stage—to not let it throw us off our game, not distract us, not put some new random thought in our head and take us off our the path of our previously discovered objective and strategy.

Add to that challenge that the construct of the play includes that our characters constantly talk to the audience. So it’s like getting a new scene partner after five weeks of rehearsal. Things are bound to get wobbly.

Thankfully, of course, nothing went awry. A few stumbled words here or there by a few people, but nothing really. This was immediately followed by some drinks and snacks and long conversations in the lobby. Somehow, strangely, almost the entire cast ended up back down in the green room with a few guests, chatting along before someone said “Why are we down here?!” (Anyone who has been in the green room of that theater would understand.)

And now here I sit. The morning after opening. It’s a bit like the first day after the semester when all that’s left is finals’ week. There’s a sense of relaxation, a sense of freedom of time, but there’s the continual presence of being ready to go back, muster the concentration and connection, and do it all over again with another new scene partner, made up of another hundred strangers, and see what happens this time around.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll do some laundry and finish my taxes.

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