... a poor dress rehearsal means a good first night.
Well, that was my experience yesterday. With original director Victor returned from the wilds of China, running around taking pictures as we went through the dress yesterday afternoon, I fluffed my lines and felt lost on stage. In the ninety minute break before the opening performance I ate dinner in semi-silence and as we got into positions before the (theoretical) curtain rose, I stared at the floor and withdrew into myself. I could feel my heart thumping, not as strongly as when I was younger and had to give a presentation at work but still more than was comfortable.
And then the cue came and I was on stage, suddenly relaxed and fully in my part. I spoke the few lines of my first appearance with confidence and clarity and came off to wait for my next entrance. Again I was tense, but my heart seemed to have quietened and all I needed to do was stand motionless with my eyes closed listening to the play. Back on again, and again the tension dissipated and again I was relaxed and in character. Off again, slight tension. On again, relaxed. By the time it came to my big scene I was fully at ease and for the rest of the play I enjoyed myself.
This was quite unlike my first appearance, in As You Like It, where I was always ill-at-ease on stage. On the other hand, it was similar to my roles in The Duchess of Malfi, but that play was easier because I had so few words. This, I hope, will continue to be the norm, both for this run and as I continue my career - that once I am on stage I am fully relaxed and in character.
To be fully in character, however, does not necessarily mean that the character is fully developed, and a note Victor gave me yesterday - that I should experiment with humming tunes from the hippie era, to go with my personality as an old hippie type - reminded me that there are always depths (forgive the allusion) in a character that can and should be explored. I'm not convinced by the humming, but I'll give it a go - and let's see whether it works. (Nor does being fully in character automatically mean that the portrayal I'm giving is believable, but that's a question for another day.)
In the meantime, forgive me for reminding you that the show is open until 24th June and I'd appreciate any and all to come and to give serious comments on whether I should continue acting after the end of July, when my year's experiment theoretically comes to an end . . .
* picture by Victor Sobchak