Monday, December 25, 2017

Settling In

We had our first scheduled day off from the show on Monday.  It was Christmas Day so Sydney was not about its usual business.  Lots of places were closed, but those open were swamped with tourist.  Sandi and I chose to see the first performance of  ‘The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman. I am a huge fan of P.T. Barnum, Sandi is a big fan of musicals, and we were able to support an Australian home-boy’s career.  It cost $26 AU a ticket for the movie (that is about $20 US) even pricey for LA and we had to wait in line for a long time.  
This is not a review of the movie but I did relate to it in a different way because of my participation in “The Unbelievables”. They have sanitized the Barnum story but it is still about a group of misfit performers and freaks trying to buck the odds and reviews to draw a crowd.  I don’t know about misfits and freaks but  “The Unbelievables” is attempting to do the same thing with our show.  The movie depicts the inception of what we now know as Circus.  It was in some way hard for me to realize it was a day off. 
My goal in this series of blogs is to document what it is like to perform at the Sydney Opera House for the first time.  I can only write from the way it feels to me. Sometimes I channel my inner Spalding Gray. I feel like I am over analyzing but since this blog is actually for my own use to look back on some day and remember what was going on it is what it is. Perhaps it is being too honest for publication and best left to private journal. 

I think my deepest insecurity comes from the fact that the show is called “The Unbelievables”. After watching the show, that is a very apt description of what is happening on stage.  There are people who are literally risking their lives doing things that seem physically impossible and Unbelievable. I think when it comes to my act... unbelievable is not the word that is normally used.  For a ventriloquist it is not so much a question of  how we do it as much as WHY.  My mistakes result in embarrassment not physical danger. I sometimes feel like I should be doing the act while riding a unicycle. (Which just for the record I can ride a unicycle. But Bob would never agree to do it)
In the second act I follow Alfredo, of Deadly Games, who shoots a crossbow, and throws knives and axes at his beautiful wife Anna.  Although I can not see all the faces in the back of the Opera house, I am sure that after Deadly Games is  done and I walk on, the observers mouths are wide open.  I have the task of closing their mouths and slowing down their heart rate.  In the act Bob says, “You aren’t Unbeleivable, you are just adaquet”.  Even with my clinical depression controlled, the darkness of my fears sometimes get expressed. I am reminded of what my first boss Charles R. Meeker, Jr. once told a singer in one of his theme park shows.  The singer did not think the song he was singing was exciting enough.  Mr. Meeker said, “At this point in the show we need a down moment.”  It was hard for the singer to hear that he was a “down moment” but Mr. Meeker was right.  A show should be a roller coaster ride not a rocket blast.  It was a concept I was able to use to my advantage in “The Two and Only”.  It is impossible and unwise to pace a show without a chance for the audience to catch their breath. Murphy, Paul and I were able to provide some tender moments to my show that let the audience recoup. I think that is what made it the theatrical piece it is.  

It is hard for me to remember this is not my show, I am just a cog in the wheel.  More like the clown who comes into the ring to spend some time while the dashing man on the flying trapeze gets ready.  It is much easier to go from the chorus to the lead, than it is to go from solo writer performer back to the ensemble.  It has required more adjustment than I was counting on. However, at this point in my career I need the time to catch MY breath. Besides Echart Tolle says it is healthy to let the ego be over taken by the simple actions of living now occasionally. It is not a matter of not feeling excited and blessed to be performing in Australia in their most famous venue. I am grateful, blessed and incredibly lucky to be here.  I just have a hard time with change and the world is nothing more than continual change. It is not a complaint,  just an observation.  As Edward Albee said, “I write to know what I am thinking about”.
As I remember it, at Astroworld my act was just long enough so the dancers could change clothes and get back on stage.  I wouldn’t let them go back on until I thought I had milked every moment out of my final applause.  I would hold the lead dancer and keep her from going on until I was sure my applause had crested. That lead dancer was Sandi Asbury and I have been holding her ever since.  So maybe there is an advantage to being the “break act” in the long run. 
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

What a great introspective think.

Joe & Carol said...

Glad you two are enjoying this wonderful gig so much, and thanks for sharing your perspective with us. We love you!!
Joe & Carol