I Second that Performance


There is a phenomenon among those known exclusively by thespians called "second-night slump." Opinions differ on the exact nature and causes of the "slump," but it is pretty universally acknowledged as something legitimate and worthy of consideration. In essence, it is a drop in energy between the opening and the next performance. Whatever truly causes it--a less personal audience, lower adrenaline, a sense of deja vu--it is a real thing that seems to me unavoidable. Opinions differ even more greatly as to whether the second-night slump is a good or bad thing. In most cases, I feel bad in it. Nothing will click and I'm off my game, or so it seems. Some directors (and, indeed, some actors) insist that the second night is always an all-around better performance. The actors are more relaxed, fluid, and the show loses a lot of the grating edges of first night. I was curious to know if, what with the Fringe Festival's bizarre schedule and our replacement actor, a second-night slump was going to occur last night. And, if so, whether it would be beneficial or detrimental.

Now I have no idea whatsoever.

That's not quite true ("...but I do lie."). The slump definitely happened, at least to me. As Far As We Know requires a certain intensity in performance, owing both to the subject matter and the style in which we've chosen to present it, and mine was slow to start last night. The engine, as it were, coughed a time or two before turning over. It began (it always begins with something small) with my missing the cue to begin the slower movement in the initial movement sequence. I caught the change of pace out of the corner of my eye and thought, "Oh yes. This bit."

Not a good sign.

I did pull out of my tailspin eventually, but not before the memory scene and the car scene were sacrificed on an altar to the Goddess of Preparation. It seems that it would be a good idea for me to run through the whole of my part in the play the day of a show. This is not something I need to do for a regular performance schedule, but having days between each show makes for strange rot in the brain. I could feel it in every marching entrance--the tightness, the intensity (commitment, as Sara Bakker chides me) wasn't there. I was at once more relaxed than I had been Saturday, and yet less in tune with the play. I felt good about my last scene, but that was about it.

Yet the feedback was very positive. It's always hard to say how much of the response is politeness and how much is genuine admiration immediately after a show, but even using my deepest B.S. filter it seemed those I spoke with thought I had a very good show. So I'm letting it go, to some extent. But I'll be sure to run through my show before Saturday's performance (enormously easier, given that I won't be coming from eight hours of desk work).

In other AFAWK news, we've had our first review. Sort of.

There's a very interesting trend in New York (and elsewhere, I suspect) in the past couple of years, and it involves an intersection between the internet and live theatre. For some time now, the only major paper left in the city reviewing theatre was The New York Times, and their word on one's show was pretty much the kiss of life, or death. That's still strictly true, in spite of independent papers making more of a mark in the last decade in that regard, but there's a host of tiny, new player on the critique scene: Bloggers. The majority of reviews we had for A Lie of the Mind were from 'blogs, and 'blogs dedicated to theatre reviews at that. In some cases this is a very, very bad thing (see 4/11/07; though not from a 'blog per se, illustrative of the potential problems of the exposure of unedited work), but in most cases the articles are surprisingly well-thought-out and composed, as evidenced by Tonya Plank's response to our little show.

I love this aspect of the internet as it is now. It's a bit like the wild west, a violent infant as prone to critical error as it is to tremendous success, a mixed metaphor (if you will) that nevertheless satisfies, because all have access to it. This I do verily dig. Someday in the future I imagine the 'bloggers will hit a collective slump in excitement and ingenuity, but for now it's still opening night, and the joint is jumping.
 
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