Friday, January 13, 2012

The Road House

I posted this before I realized it is Friday the 13th. Now I will be looking for all the reasons they call it Friday the 13th. but just for you history buffs, it was a Friday 13th of October when the King of France ordered all the Knights Templar arrested. I suppose that unless you are a closet Tempelar this is just another Friday.
It was in the middle of the show as I am recreating a phone conversation with my mentor Art Seiving, that the sound began to squeal. At first I thought it was a hearing aide in the audience, but it was indeed my microphone that was feeding back a very high pitched sound. John was not running the sound, and the sound board and operator were up in the rafters booth with the lighting operator.  I will never understand why you would put a sound board in a booth where you can not hear what is sounds like in the audience.  It is like trying to thread a needle in the dark. But that was the case on this stop.  I think if we had been there more than one night John, the perfectionist, would have tuned the sound and tweaked the room.  It needed to be done. But we do what we can do with what we have and John is able to do some amazing things with smoke and mirrors. 

By the time I realized it was my mic making the noise, John dashed for the board to fix it. I sensed that the audience was so aware of the sound that they were not listening to the words.  At that point my Art Sieving character says... "Jay you must be calling long distance on AT&T." It got a bigger laugh than I thought it might and the laugh covered the time it took to correct the ringing.  We were back on script and so was the audience.The writer in me was a little upset that the actor in me had ad-libbed a joke not in the script.  But the performer in me agreed with the actor.  Such is the schizophrenic nature of my solo performance.

Some times you have to put yourself in place of the audience and if they are so distracted that they are not getting the text, something must be done to acknowledge that distraction.  In my opinion to do other wise creates a disconnect between the performer and the audience. Live theatre is not film.  In a film the actors would never be aware of what is going on in the audience. Stage Actors must take that into account when performing live.  Not to say that shooting from the hip and going with the flow is always the best idea. It takes developed instinct to know when to break that fourth wall and when you do not.  I will say that it is much easier for a solo performer to do that than a bigger cast. 

I guess that is what keeps it fresh for me on stage.  It is always a matter of trying to connect with the audience. Since no two audiences are ever the same it is a unique and wonderful challenge each night to walk that tight rope. I feel completely blessed that I have been granted the opportunity to explore those mental acrobatics in my career.

Tonight we open in another town and another theatre. This one is a beautiful 1920's jewel box that seems like it will be perfect for my show. And we are here for a few days.  I am really looking forward to it. In the past I would have stated the name of the theatre, but I have found that is not the best idea.  I was once chastised by a promoter who didn't like the way I talked about his obnoxious sound man in my blog.  On the one hand I think, freedom of expression, and the guy really was a jerk to us, but on the other hand.... who really cares.  Turns out the only ones who would care are the promoter and the sound guy. As the blog becomes easier to google for specifics, it is just not worth my "freedom" to name names anymore.  

As you were,


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