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Rough Crossing Wrap-Up

Well, and my Rough Crossing is done. Fourteen performances, all in all, counting the benefit and the private one, but not counting the dress rehearsal that had half-a-dozen invited guests to give us practice holding for laughs that might or might not come. Probably something like five hundred people attended—I’m making that number up, actually, but there were a couple of nights in the maybe-twenty range, and then the rest were in the perhaps-forty range, except for opening and closing, which were in the nearly-eighty range. I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if my estimate were off by more than twenty percent. But I would be a little surprised. I hope the show broke even (I always hope the show breaks even), but I suspect it wound up in the red by a trifle. Well, there it is. A number of Gentle Readers came, which is always nice.

I have been doing a wrap-up on previous shows, detailing some positives and negatives of the experience. This was a strange show, though, and I’m not sure how much this all will make sense.

The Positives

  • It was, I’m pretty sure, a terrific show. I can’t tell for sure, not having seen it. I don’t know that I am altogether blinded by ego, but I certainly concentrate on the more successful aspects of any show that I am in, to the point where I probably overrate them quite a bit. On the other hand, I am onstage for the whole darned show, pretty much, and we get laughs aplenty, which is how you know a comedy is working, right?
  • It was the largest and most central role I have had in years. I don’t call it a lead role, because it is quite an ensemble cast, but my role had the most lines and the most minutes on stage, and was in many ways the plot driver as well. So that’s nice. I was always really a character actor; I am now old enough that I will only have character parts. So it’s nice when the character part is a big ’un.
  • The part is pretty much in my wheelhouse, and I think I pretty much hit it.
  • We did come up with a fair amount of physical business that I think added to the show, including what may well be the first time I have ever juggled on any stage.

The Negatives

  • The lack of audience, of course
  • I dropped a tray on Closing Night, marring what had been a run of successful attempts, and in front of something like a sixth of our total audience. On the other hand, my partner caught the bread roll I threw at him all fourteen performances.
  • there was a shortish telephone conversation in Act II that I never managed to get word-for-word correct to the script. Or even particularly close. I got all the bits in, but there was a lot of paraphrasing, and it never really felt right.
  • There were some stretches where the boat was supposed to be swaying, which was indicated with the actors tottering back and forth. There was a light system set up to time it, which turned out to be very difficult to whilst doing the blocking. We did not choreograph the swaying to the lines, either, preferring (in theory) to keep to the rhythm of the boat rather than that of the particular audience. Unfortunately, without specific line cues to change sides, and without the cues provided by the lights, we were a very ragged crew indeed, with some people starting the return trip to stage right as others were still staggering left. While I of course never actually saw any of that, what with being one of the ragged staggerers myself, I believe it looked amateurish and shabby. The thing about that sort of co-ordinated business is that if it looks good, it looks great, but if it looks bad, it looks awful.
  • This isn’t so much about Rough Crossing, but doing two shows in a row has left me very, very tired and not interested in doing any more theater for a good, long while.

Another negative that is only somewhat connected with the show itself is that I have not written about it much for this Tohu Bohu. This is largely because I was in the middle of a note about how things were going rather well when a castmate had a stroke (or what I will call a stroke without knowing if that’s entirely accurate; it was a massive brain trauma) and was evidently on the brink of death. He has recovered miraculously well: he came to closing night, and while he leaned on a cane some of the time, he was able to walk without it. Still, this was a catastrophe for him, and didn’t do the show any favors. Now, we did find somebody to play his role, and that person was very good in it, so that’s all right in that sense. But the stricken fellow was just starting to inhabit what showed promise of being a very interesting take on the part, and I will never see where he was going with it.

And every time I would think about what to write for this Tohu Bohu about the show, I would think of that unfinished note that began Things are going very well, and decide I didn’t want to write anything at all. Well, anyway. It’s over now, and there will be other things to write about in the summer.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

I liked the staggering; I'd been anticipating it, because BOAT, so I was pleased when it arrived, and didn't particularly notice any timing issues. ::shrug::

I am sad to hear you didn't have more audience, it really was a terrific show. I don't know how involved you are with the cooperative theater management and stuff, but I know when I was in high school I went to a number of plays and things on seriously-reduced-price tickets, would it be worthwhile trying to make some connections to a local high school to see if some English teacher wanted to bring their class?


I try to avoid being involved in the publicity/management end at all, other than of course griping, which is a speciality of mine. I have suggested to a variety of people that the nearby Universities could be approached, and if they were offered $5 tickets there wouldn't be any drawback; we would fill some empty seats, and get word of mouth (hopefully good). I didn't think of high schools particularly, but that's a good idea as well.

Unfortunately, this theater's policy of strongly-suggested-donation-but-no-fixed-price makes it difficult to give specific discounts. I am told that starting next season, they will go to a fixed ticket price with a couple of special pay-what-you-want performances, which allows them to then offer steep discounts for students or classes or whatnot. I don't know that they will actually offer those discounts, or that they will make the effort to alert people to the offers if they exist, but the opportunity is there.

Thanks,
-V.


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