Saturday, February 7, 2009
Later Life For Later Life
Last night we performed the play for ninety-five people. That's a lot for a dinner theater at the Opera House where the play is performed not in the upstairs auditorium but downstairs in one of the big, open rooms.
We all agreed, during our time of waiting while the folks were finishing up their dinners, that none of us really felt as if we were actually going to do the play again. Like- we did this last week. Again? Really? Tonight?
And yet there we were, getting into our costumes, checking our make-up and props, waiting for the director to come in and tell us to get ourselves backstage.
And of course it ended up being the best performance we've done yet.
I finally feel as if I know my lines, inside and out, no problem.
(I shouldn't even say that. How far do I want to tempt fate? Huh?)
But still, it's a relaxing feeling, knowing that the lines will come, and then being able to adapt, move around in our characters, add this or that to make it a better performance.
The audience last night was odd. All of the usual lines that always get big laughs got nothing but a sort of restrained titter that scattered around the room like a short, fake-you-out rain shower which promises but does not deliver, a few drops of water on the windshield, nothing more.
One of my characters has a line describing a man she's met who wants to become a woman. I make it as full of drama as possible, setting the audience up for a bit I do when I deliver the line, "I know. But I mean, OUCH!" and I usually do a fake crotch grab and bend over a little bit but last night I GRABBED THAT CROTCH in my velvet skirt and I went for the gold.
Little raindrops of expressed appreciation. Nothing more.
But several times when my partner-in-crime and I left the stage, we got applause. So what was that about?
And then, and THEN, during one of the most dramatic and heart-rending parts of the play, they suddenly began to laugh. The huge, deep belly-laughs that we'd been hoping for all night finally came out.
"Sadistic fucks," whispered the guy who plays opposite me and all of us backstage looked at each other in disbelief.
So it was a strange night, but a very good one, and they applauded long and loud when it was over.
You just never know.
And we'll do it again tonight. Mr. Moon's sister is coming up from Sarasota to see the play and my daughter HoneyLuna will be there with a good friend of hers whom I love as one of my own and I haven't seen her in a long time so that will be fun. I think I'll be okay, knowing they're out there.
And that will be that until we perform in Milton on March 7 and then we're going to do it again on March 31 for a group of cyclists (?!) and then that really will be that. I'm glad we have these lagniappe performances because it means we'll have to get together between now and then to go over lines, make sure we still have it. Which means we won't have that sinking feeling after the performance tonight of, "Oh no! Our family is breaking up."
No. We get to go on for another month or so, still playing together, still saying these lines, grabbing our crotches and going for the gold, making each other laugh, which is far more important somehow than making the audience laugh, although we love it when they do.
And I suppose this is the joy of community theater. No one has invested big bucks in us and sets and costumes. We raid our own closets and lend each other wigs and glasses and build the sets of parts of old sets and black cloth and we're not going to have to shut down if the reviews aren't good, dimming the lights of the theater and finding ourselves out on the streets auditioning for another play, yet another chance at glory.
No. We get our glory cracking each other up and supporting each other and thanking each other and teasing each other and hugging each other and last night when one of the directors hugged me, I actually cried a little.
"Thank-you," I said. "Thank-you for letting me play."
And I felt like a pure, clean rain had washed down upon me as he hugged me back.