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Wrap-up for the Great American Novel adaptation

Your Humble Blogger has been intending to write a wrap-up about the play that closed last weekend, but frankly this morning has been entirely taken up with refreshing the OBO on India-Australia. Kohli just got caught out, and that makes India 143-3 after 29 overs, chasing 261. I think this may well come down to the last few balls again. I find I’m rooting for India, mostly because I would like to see India meet Pakistan in a later round, although of course I would also be worried about violence. Still. Pakistan are incredibly erratic, but you would have to think they would hit another level in a one-day against an at-home India side for the World Cup.

Anyway. A few thoughts about my experience doing this semi-professional theeyater.


  • Nearly Legendary Director was wonderful and twinkly and said things like “The props don’t know they are in a play” and “The audience hears your vowels but they understand your consonants”. Actually the main thing I learned from him is that it is possible to be as good as he is at a variety of things. He blocked the play for a thrust stage without ever seeming to have to think about its requirements; he is such an old hand that he simply set things up on the diagonals and everything built from there. He also not only knew exactly what he wanted from any scene (at least any of my scenes) but was able to get it, which he did by simply and clearly explaining his demands. That may not sound like much, but damn.
  • I learned a lot from our out-of-town cast (particularly from the actor playing the Man, who was very pleasant to share backstage with) about what it is like to work as a professional actor on an equity contract. This is the first time that I have worked with equity actors, and while I do not want to become one at least I now have some sense of what that life is like in a practical sense.
  • The production values of the show were very high, certainly much higher than I am used to. The costumes were terrific, and there were people taking very good care of them (and being paid to do so). The set was very simple, deliberately so, but was excellent and again well cared for (mopped before every show, for instance). The props were not particularly good, but they weren’t awful, and more importantly I didn’t have any. The lighting and sound were very good, as far as I could tell, with one moment of thunder-lightning-fog that would really have been lousy if it didn’t work, but did seem to work, so that was nice. Rehearsals began on time and ended on time—this is more to do with the last point than this one, but still, it was very pleasant for me.
  • The show as a whole seemed to be very good, as far as I could tell.
  • Both Nearly Legendary Director and the actor playing the Man made a point of telling me that I was doing a good job; the Man told me that if a revival did happen, he would be happy for me to revive my role. Which doesn’t mean that I would actually be offered the part, and I wouldn’t take it if I were offered it if it meant going to New York for a month, but it was a lovely thing to hear.

The Disappointments

  • Ticket sales, mostly. For our nine open performances, we never sold more than a hundred of the seats in our 150-capacity house, and half of the time there were between forty and fifty. That’s just weak. The last time I was in that house (under different, and much more amateur management) we averaged a hundred, and sold out a few.
  • The professionalism of the whole endeavor has both good and bad; it was a lot less fun, and the cast didn’t really go out together after shows. At least, I actually never went out with the cast, but there was only one night where I know the cast did go out as a group, and even then it was only two-thirds of them. It wasn’t really a social group, in fact, it wasn’t a community. It wasn’t an unpleasant dynamic or anything, but it was much more like a workplace than a playspace.
  • Frankly, being in a tiny part wasn’t all that great. There was a stretch of around 50 minutes where I sat in the back and wrote letters or did crosswords. In addition to the shorter backstage stretches, that is.

All in all, I’m glad that I was in the thing, and I’m glad it’s over. …and in between starting this note in the morning (my time) and finishing in the afternoon, the match ended with India winning at a canter, 14 balls left. After, of course, they dropped two fairly quick wickets, giving them a run required rate of more than one a ball with twelve overs left; Australia ought to have been able to put India away, frankly, but couldn’t do it. So Pakistan meets India in Chandigarh on Wednesday for a semi-final. Looking forward to it, particularly as I don’t give England much chance in their quarter-final on Saturday against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,