Troilus and Cressida
opened this weekend. We had good houses, good not great with regards to size, but great with regards to enthusiasm. It's a complex play and not one of the Bard's well known pieces so I was pretty happy. Thursday was our preview, and Friday opening. Surprisingly Saturday was our smallest audience, and last night, Sunday for the 'early' 7pm show we had a good crowd.
Two of our cast had applied for an intense classical MFA program in DC. They are good friends and two of the co-authors for the The Elsinore Diaries
, which I quite enjoyed and thought was a better piece of fun homage than Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) when I saw it
a few years back. On Friday they heard. Jason told a few of us the good news, and we asked about Daniel. He told us of the two of them finally going in circles asking, "Well, what did you hear?" For the last month the first thing they said was, "Have you heard?" Then Friday neither asked for the longest time, and neither wanted to answer first. Happily they were both accepted. The whole cast is amazing, and like everyone else I've felt privileged to work with them. (For those of you who know the other co-author, Frank, he is in the show too though he didn't apply for grad school.)
I was chatting with one of the prospective grad students Saturday musing how a year from now he would be saying, "Only three more months of this!" Without thinking, I said it was a few days short of eight years ago I walked into my first introductory acting class. His response sounded emphatic, "It's a really good thing you stayed with it!" That is the best compliment I've received in the last year. It was as affirming as it was unexpected. Am I reading more into the compliment? What would it hurt? On the other hand diminishing the compliment would be bad for me and my work.
My bio for the show has a sappy spot, "He hopes you really are defined by the company you keep." The cast and crew for this show is amazingly talented, dedicated, and professional. And a bunch of cut-ups. I've gotten frustrated at times with rehearsals where you're sitting around doing nothing for hours on end, skimping on some scenes and beating others to the point they lose energy. In this production the weekly rehearsal schedule was very accurate, so you knew what days and times you were called. It allowed you to work on your own or get personal business taken care of when you weren't needed, and more importantly it made the rehearsal more productive. You want to work your scene, so you don't dink around when you have the chance to do it, and work to be productive. Within that framework the atmosphere was very conducive to trying different things. So it really has been a treat to work on this production. It is a process which supports artists who are serious about the work.
In addition to Priam and Calchas I also show up twice briefly as a Greek soldier, once bearing Patroclus' body and the other being chased by Hector and killed offstage. We hadn't gotten around to choreographing that short fight, so for the rehearsal I simply yelled while lifting a sword/club up high and ran off when Hector braced for my attack. Playing, don't you know. It is now in the show, and the humorous note it was to inject in the midst of the running fights worked out well. The fight director laughs every time -- I know because I return the club (police baton) to him in his Ajax role. Each of us has little bits like that. The director encouraged us to try things and kept many of them, and with a grace which encouraged further offers declined some of the other things we tried.
I hope the audiences appreciate the production half as much as I have the process.