Resting up for tonight’s performance.
…Never quite got the extra punch of nerves like I usually do for Opening. Kept waiting for it, but the ghost that visits us all, must have duped someone else in the cast on accident. A smooth run, nothing of real consequence to note, or a moment that stood out any more than I thought it would.
Now: we are Open.
Our greatest challenge is to keep up the energy, (whether or not our audiences seem to understand the story that is happening before them), and to keep our eyes on the prize with consistency, intent, and joy.
…Based on our first two audiences, there is a very unfortunate pattern of wide-eyed blinking going on through much of the first half….wherein their brains do their best at processing what we are giving them, and they try to make some sense of it.
It has been a long time since I last did a Shakespeare, and that was a drama…so obviously the “comedy” requires more of their participation. And my mind is just blown with the truth we were told at the beginning: that we should expect very little feedback until well of 20-30 minutes into the show, as it takes that long for the audience to wrap their head around the lingo, period, and story plot.
…And I vehemently disagreed with this, based on the clarity of the performances being given up there…
…Until last night completely confirmed what Preview first handed to us.
Our comedy, which we have worked so hard on, is being blanketed with very thick quilts of silence as we struggle in our task not to over-sell or out-shout these moments to get SOME sort of response from the seating sections. Quite deflating, actually, to just plug on in blind faith that at some point, it WILL click with them, they WILL suddenly have the (apparent) necessary breathrough of communication, and we WON’T look like idiots throughout the WHOLE of the performance. Only one-quarter of it.
Here is where I struggle to concept the situation we find ourselves in:
Shakespeare is not new.
…It is often done here…many times over…by many of our companies, some of whom specifically perform it solely. Every season. And someone fills those seats…time, after time, after time. And one presumes they are the same patrons who frequent other productions. Enough, and at such a rate, as to keep the tickets selling, and the theatre’s continuing to mount more and more productions. And I know that “math” has never been my particular forte, but even to ME, these audience reactions (or lack of) are not adding up.
…Which brings up another thought, based on a debate with The BFF (a highly educated, yet TOTAL anti-Shakespearean), on the relevance and necessity of keeping his works running in the theatres and classrooms.
MY stance was that he (and ALL of the classics) will ALWAYS be relevant because they are about the human condition, and humanity never, fucking, changes. You will always relate to it because, sex and anger and love and despair and joy and pain, is like music to humanity’s bones…in that it has no language barrier, it has no class distinction, or rules, or regulations…it just IS and WILL BE, and we all understand it, because it is part of being human.
…HER stance was that they are dead stories, in un-relatable languages, that are only done now because people think is it “the fashion” and want to appear smarter, so only go along with it because of a kind of glorified, “look at me: attending Shakespeare,” deal.
I cringe at the thought.
I can’t believe it.
…And if I don’t believe it, but am showed instances like these past two nights…how do I explain it?
How do they not understand?
…They live these very lives themselves.
…Is it an instance of trying to learn “Italian” in order to understand the “words” of the Opera they are watching? Do they not realize that the music itself and the emotion behind it, tells the story, and that if you surrender to it, it will carry you through and usher you where you need to go? Is it because they have been taught not to “trust” it? Is it because they were once told, “this is too far above you, you will never understand, it is for smarter people than you?”
…Because aside from the fact he was directly commissioned by the Queen of England to write his pieces, Shakespeare (a very modern man of his time) wrote his works primarily to and for the “Groundlings”…the stall owners…the pub keepers, the butchers and hayseed planters and brick layers and every “common” man out on the street. These stories are THEIR stories, written for THEM. Most of whom could neither read nor write. And this language the plays were written in, was not a contemporary of their own, it was a heightened language even at the time. It was (and is) poetry.
…It is music.
…And they understood it, because Shakespeare was one of the most amazing composers in all of human existence. The tune is pure: if you just listen.
…But how do you tell that to an audience, with furrowed brows facing you, whispering to one another in their seats: “What’s happening? Who is this? Why, that? I don’t understand…”
Patience and it will come.
Listen and we will tell you.
We are doing the work FOR you.
Don’t fight the words.
…We have this great, great thing to share with you…it’s been toured around the planet twice over-plus, the existence of this country. If is was a bad “tune” it would have hit the top 40, and gone extinct a looooong time ago. But it is still here! Which means its a really GOOD fucking song. You’ll like it. I promise.
…Please, just come to the theater and listen.
The music will do the rest.
A Disgruntled Player