Sunday, October 23, 2005

These Actors As I Fortold You Are All Spirits And Are Vanished Into Air. Into Thin Air...

What is it about closing nights?

Or closing afternoons as it is in our case here at Calshakes.

We all knew this day was coming. After all, we all knew that closings are part of the nature of the game in live theatre when we started. We knew that one of the things that makes this experience so special is that it comes equipped with an expiration date.

We knew that we work in The Ultimate Disposible Art Form.
That our work is written on the wind.
That we are ice sculptors.
And that Prospero's island is truly made of sand.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard the sound of Mikita screw guns rasping away, dismantling the rampart or living room or platform I had just spent two months on while the pop of champagne corks fills the air in the lobby.

Or for every time, on closing nights, I've seen crew members stalking the wings with hammers in hand, waiting for the final curtain.

Or for every time I've cleaned off my makeup table, removed the pictures tacked on the mirror and stuffed the opening night cards into a paper bag and said goodbye to another role in my menagerie.

The final performance, as mentioned in these pages before , shares a special place in the progression of a play. If every performance is an opportunity to hone, shape and sculpt each moment like a brilliant jewel, then the last performance should be just about as good as this particular play, with this particular personel can be. Oftentimes its not. Moments are elongated beyond recognition. Emotions run away with the performance. Players are saying goodbye to every prop or turn of phrase like they're headed to the Russian front.

I had a director one time who admonished the cast to love the play , but not to make love to the play on closing night.

So that is what we intend to do today, on closing afternoon. Love the play, perform it to the best of our abilities and save our goodbyes for the lobby afterwards. And try not to let the sound of screw guns sour our champagne.

Me, I'll clean off my makeup table, stuff the cards and pictures into a paper bag and count myself lucky to have lived through this Tempest with no broken ankles or cracked ribs. I made some new friends, got to work again with some old ones, and added to my treasure chest of Calshakes experiences.

Its an itinerant lifestyle, the acting game. and though each closing feels like a little death, there is always something invigorating about heading off into uncharted waters. And this afternoon, when I make my final exit and leave Prospero's enchanted isle for the last time I'll be sad, yes, but happy to be moving on.

(For anyone out there interested my next gig is at Teatro Zinzanni, I'm playing the Chef.)

How many actors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One to hold the lightbulb and the world revolves around him.

By the way:
Will Brown, one of our erstwhile sprites who you remember had to go to the hospital called me the other day to say he's doing much better. Apparently the condition he had was not as debilitating as some had predicted and he planned to join us for the season ending party after the show today. Phew!

I want to thank Calshakes and Sean for having me do this blog. I'm planning on keeping it up so check back with me and leave a comment when you feel like it. Its been a good Tempest and I hope you all got to see it.
But if you didn't...

"These actors, as I fortold you are all spirits and are vanished into air. Into thin air..."

Ron Campbell


Bruce said...

Hello Ron,

I was at the final performance and it was terrific. I laughed, was moved and came away with much to think about, which is a big reason I enjoy theater so much.

I've really enjoyed reading your posts and finding out what it's like to bring a play to life, especially your descriptions of the interplay between the actors and audience. Despite watching theater regularly I must admit viewing myself as a participant is rather alien to me but having seen you among audience members and connecting with them in The Tempest, Buckminster Fuller and Thousandth Night I am starting to see that the audience is a part of the show.

Thanks for taking the time to write; I'm sure it must be challenging to be performing and having a life not to mention writing a blog. I look forward to your future posts.


capnjoy said...

it was a wonderful final performance and a magnificent show. congratulations ron and all the rest of the AMAZING cast and crew of the tempest!

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