Pozzo Diaries: wrap-up

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Well, and Waiting for Godot has closed. Seven performances, ranging from OK to excellent (in my opinion, not having actually seen any of them). I don’t think it has been my best work, but I do think I did reasonably well, and I am very glad to have had the chance to act in front of audiences. I have been fearing, on and off, that either the theaters will be closed again for a while or that the theaters will be open but I will be afraid to go in them. It may not go down like that, but even if it does, I have this experience in my pocket.

I usually do the wrap-up with lists of Positives and Negatives, so I guess that’s what I’ll do here:

The Positives

  • As I said, just that I got to do anything on a stage in front of an audience who was actually there.
  • Despite a somewhat fraught rehearsal situation, I think I got along quite well with everybody and made no enemies; if anyone winds up having to decide whether to cast me in something else or not, I think they would go yeah, that guy and not ugh, that guy. This is, at the core of it, my goal for any show.
  • I got to say that They give birth astride a grave bit, which is just an astonishingly good piece of writing.
  • The audiences seemed, on the whole, to enjoy themselves. No coughing or fidgeting, lots of laughter most nights.
  • I got the whip that I wanted—a buggy whip, not a bullwhip—and was able to build my character around that, which was really an enormous help.

The Disappointments

  • Obviously, the biggest negative was our Original Gogo getting sick. He seems to be on the mend, which is nice.
  • The actual experience of rehearsals wasn’t great, honestly. It was fine, but there was a lot of tension, for a variety of reasons that weren’t really anyone’s fault. Or, at least, if some of them were someone’s fault, I never found out whose or why.
  • There were two performances at which I got almost no laughs at all as Pozzo. I don’t know why; I don’t think I did anything particularly different in those shows. This wasn’t a matter of the audience just not laughing audibly—we did have one of those houses, who I think had arrived to see Important Theater of Historical and Theoretical Interest and not fart jokes and vaudeville, which is too bad for them—just them not finding me particularly funny. Ah, well.
  • Speaking of audiences, we didn’t sell very many tickets. I think, over the seven performances, we probably sold somewhere between 150 and 175 tickets? Certainly less than 200. The first show I did at that theater, I was disappointed in ticket sales that I estimated at averaging around 30 per show; this show didn’t come close to that. Of course, I couldn’t possibly blame Phyllis and her friends for being wary of any live theater at this point, and I have often said that it would be silly for any community theater to stage Godot. Still, it would have been nice to have some butts in seats.
  • Physically, I found the whole thing incredibly grueling, and while I am mostly caught up on sleep now, I’m still bruised and battered. It wasn’t even that strenuous—two pratfalls, and ten minutes of lying on the floor. Ah, well, I grow old.

Another thing about the show, of course, is just that I have now been in one of the most important plays of the 20th Century, and have studied it and worked with the text in the kind of depth that you only get from weeks of preparation, rehearsal and performance. Or at least that I only get from that; other people’s mileage may vary. My point is that it’s extremely likely that I will have conversations about Godot in the future, or read essays about it, or see other productions, or even read reviews of other productions, and that’s all going to be more interesting an enjoyable to me because of all the stuff I’ve learned and thought about. I’ve been extremely lucky in the plays I’ve got cast in.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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