Saturday, December 05, 2009

Any Way The Wind Blows

Last night I experienced the best audience of my life. Like, the best audience in history. They were primed. From the moment the lights went down, they were howling. We were backstage looking at each other like "Hell, yeah!" And it wasn't even a full house. They were just that ready for us. The rare times I got to actually look at them, they were smiling from ear to ear, with expressions like "Entertain us, baby. Give us all you've got." Okay, then.

And because they were so awesome, it had to be the night when I messed up. A lot. Well, not a lot, but a lot for me. I don't mess up very much. It's not that I think I'm so amazing, more that I've been standing in front of large-ish audiences for 17 years, talking about Hawthorne and anaphora and Jewish jokes, and my focus is good. I don't forget lines. I don't get nervous and blank.

Until I do, apparently. In my first scene, it occurred to me half-way through that I'd forgotten to wear my hilarious pink cat-eye glasses. I did manage to find them and put them on. I could also feel my wig slipping off my head and had to yank it back. But worst of all, I changed a word in one of my lines, which cued my "Mama" to skip ahead six lines. And there went the rest of my scene. That was not like me, and such a bummer.

Also, the audience was so demented, I was not remembering to pause for laughter. We've heard a lot about this pausing for laughter thing, but it's never been really necessary before. Last night, it was necessary. If we said something, we needed to pause, or the next line was going to be lost. That is crazy and incredible.

In Act II, a sound cue (a ringing phone) never happened, and my scene partner Greg was left to wander the stage like a ghost, waiting for someone to haunt. I stood behind the flats wondering what was going on until our stage manager came up behind me and hissed, "JUST. GO." and gave me a little push. Now I was also on stage, and staring helplessly at Greg. I'm not sure how long we did that, but eventually I just started a scene that seemed appropriate, and we went from there.

But later, I totally blanked when I was supposed to shout lines from off-stage. I blanked even though my scene partner Aaron was fiercely murmuring "Street urchin, street urchin, street urchin" which was all the cue I needed, if I hadn't been freaking out and ignoring him.

So I was a bit unsettled. And throughout, there was the howling laughter, the balm of forgiveness and acceptance. Which, because I am me and crazy, made me feel guilty. I wanted to rush out there and announce "You guys! You are so sweet to laugh, but we are MESSING UP! You should come another night when we don't mess up!"

And I realized that I will never, ever experience this again. You know how you just know things? There will never be another audience that loves us in the same way again. You can never go home again. It's never as good as the first time. And all that.

So I'm glad I got to experience that kind of love, but I hope that tonight, I remember my lines. And hope they are not greeted by stony silence. Because I've been there, too. Distinctly not as awesome.

Afterward, our director took us to a cute new wine bar for a drink, where I drank a big glass of chardonnay and ate no food, then stood up and found I didn't remember how to walk that well. It was a while before it seemed like a good idea to get in the car. Luckily, I had company and cake.

When I pulled up to the house at 3:30, I noticed that there was glass all around David's new car. And air where his window should be. Uh-oh. When I woke him up to investigate, he discovered that someone had tried to steal his iPod, not the car. They didn't get it, but now he needs a new window.

1 comment:

Marlene said...

You were more awesome than you realized. You always are.