So, last night was opening and it went pretty damn well. There was an audience of 6, and for a show that only seats 12, that’s pretty damn good.
The biggest thing for me was that last night was my first ever night performing. I come from a visual arts background, and although I’ve worked on a number of theatre shows, it’s only ever been making props or puppets, running around backstage, that sort of thing. I’ve never wanted to be an actor, never wanted to be a performer of any kind. I’ve only performed once with puppets (weird, I know, for someone who’s so keen on making them) and that was to a friendly, tiny audience after a puppeteering class.
Never having really been on stage, I’ve always had stage fright at the very thought of doing it. So when Rob suggested that we would do the puppeteering, that was a little nerve racking. And the first couple of rehearsals were worry-causing, as I moved Doug here and the moon there, I wondered how the hell I was ever going to remember all of it, let alone do it competently.
But last night was surprisingly good. We set up, costumed up, turned off the house lights (the normal, every day lights for those not in the Know) and on with the theatre lights and started our pre-show pattern. People filled in, and I wasn’t a bit nervous. It helped, I think, that 4 out of the 6 people were friends, but the two people I didn’t know didn’t faze me. I knew what I was doing, I knew what needed to be done next, and if I didn’t we have a running sheet which reminds us. I was confidant, and it was, as the title of the show suggests, all Ok.
I think having a recorded soundtrack really helps. One, I’m not actually doing the voices, which would be a whole other layer of complication, plus there’s only two of us and although Rob’s pretty good at accents, I’m not. In fact, when we first met, about 9 years ago, I could only do one. And it was a Drunken English Pirate. Quite specific, I grant you, but it was the only one I’d worked out. Now a days, with much more exposure to theatre guys, accents, telly and the like, I’m a little better at a couple, but nowhere near good enough to pull off half the roles in a puppet show. The other reason I’m a fan of recorded soundtracks is that it ensures that every night it’s going to be exactly the same. The music will dip and soar as it did every time in rehearsal, the voices will come in at exactly the same time every night and say exactly the same thing. This makes it much smoother and easier for all involved. It also makes the pressure on the actors less. Instead of having to commit to 6 weeks of rehearsals and then a 2 or 3 week run, we asked them to turn up to Josh’s place one Saturday afternoon and we recorded the whole lot in a couple of hours. Go Josh!
I was listening to a random but well known comedian on the radio the other day, and he was saying that after performing, he gets this huge buzz and can’t sleep, especially on good nights. And it’s the tradition in New York after opening night on broadway that they go to a cafe and drink champaign, waiting for the reviews to be published in the morning. Armed with this knowledge, I did wonder what it would be like once we’d taken our final bows.
So last night, we finished, and they applauded and we started packing up as they started filling out. There was a few who hung around, including one of the women we didn’t know, and talked about the show for a while, and then we continued packed up. Packing up takes about half an hour, so I had time to think. It had been a huge day, I’d opened an exhibition I’ve curated earlier in the night (Echo’s Lost, in the front window of Circa Vintage Store, 102 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) and then we’d gone on to preview Everything. I was glad it had gone so well, and glad that the audience liked it. I was interested in the feedback, that the plot was actually followable (we had been less than certain on that point) and that they felt it was magical. I was glad we’d made something so beautiful, and was super glad it had worked like we’d hoped. But I wasn’t over the moon, or on a high or anything else. I was pleased but tired, like after a nice day at the beach (but, you know, without the sunburn or the sand in your knickers) and I just wanted to go home.
On Broadway they celebrate with bottles of champaign, bunches of flowers and staying out all night long. We drove home, stopping at the Sev to buy a icecream, and went to bed.
Rockstars we may not be, but gosh darn it, we make a good show.
Everything Will Be Ok Details on Melbourne Fringe website
(original post on Terrible Comfort’s blog)