Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shifting Gears

Tonight is the closing performance of "Pleasures of Peace" at Medicine Show. It's been a wild ride. I came into the project 'already in progress' and had some catching up to do to get up to speed with what they had been working on. We opened the show without really feeling ready, and actually had a few performances in that first week that weren't exactly as polished as we would have liked. The show found its stride by the third performance and has been growing, evolving and improving ever since. I am particularly appreciative of Paul Daniel Cloeter, who played Franz, the Swiss Guard, to my Tim, the Buckingham Palace Guard, in John Gruen's lovely play "Guards in Love." We literally rehearsed this intricate play twice before opening night. Were it not for our strong abilities as actors to be present and aware in moments of unknowing, we could have had a disaster. Instead, we grew with each live performance as we basically 'rehearsed' the play every night in front of an audience. I repeatedly heard audience members saying it was the most poignant, touching and well-done aspect of the evening.

Now, its all over. I leave the show with mixed emotions. Of course, there is the mourning one usually experiences at the close of a show. A cast and crew, working together to mount a production spends many long hours together. In many cases, we neglect our own families and friend due to our commitment to the show. Inevitably, a strong bond is created--only to be suddenly broken by everyone going their own diverse ways at the close of the production. Many promises are made (mostly sincere) to 'keep in touch,' 'have coffee' or 'see the next show you're in.' Unfortunately, as often as not, those are the last words exchanged between these people. So I'm sad to see this family disband.

There is also that eerie feeling that "I'll never say these words again." As actors, we create 'moments.' Any show is really a series of moments. Because a lot of the work we do to create a real connection to what we're doing and saying on stage is infusing our 'moments' with parts of ourselves. Some of the moments can hold a certain pathos or special significance. I know that I have certain moments in each show I've done that are quite meaningful and cathartic for me. And as I utter them on closing night, they often hold a particular weight; that sense that the period at the end of the sentence is so much more terminal. Like it's saying, "You won't be saying this again tomorrow night....not next week.... not ever again in this context."

On the other hand, I am also currently involved in rehearsals for my next project, "Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants" as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival and I'm looking forward to being able to fully immerse myself in this project. I've only been to a couple of rehearsals (I've been largely unavailable to rehearse due to my schedule with "Pleasures of Peace") but I'm impressed by the show and the cast. Its going to be a riot and I'm excited to transition into this world created by the masterful Duncan Pflaster.

So, it is a bittersweet transition as I'm shifting gears from the spectacular to the ridiculous. From the surreal and poetic to the bawdy and farcical. From Medicine Show to Cross-Eyed Bear. From one family of artists and friends to a new family. Until August 2, when "Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants" will play its final performance and the mourning will start anew.

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