Last night, after hours of rehearsals over the past few weeks, we had our one and only performance of our scenes. It was nothing grand — thirty or so invited friends and relations squeezed for a couple of hours into our hot and cramped classroom to watch us perform with a very makeshift and bare set. If there had been more room I’d have invited you. Next time.
Unfortunately I spent much of the evening becoming increasingly annoyed with people. I’ve found many classes trying because of some people arriving late and their constant chattering and disappearing to the toilet while things are being explained. Maybe I have a low tolerance, but it seems plain rude, and I wanted the course to be hard work, requiring concentration and focus. So yesterday I was becoming extra frustrated while people turned up late for the preparations, didn’t pay attention while last minute plans were made, and endlessly faffed and chattered “backstage” (in the corridor outside) once the performance was underway.
Time went surprisingly slowly while we waited out there, as one-by-one the pairs went in for their scenes, emerging what seemed an age later to a round of applause. Most people seemed happy with how their scene had gone, and the couple of people who had duties in the classroom came out later to say all the scenes had been even better than the dress rehearsals. Mark and I were on seventh, so we had over an hour to wait, while my butterflies increased from nothing to a constant flutter, and I spent much of the time grumpily “ssshhhh”ing people.
The plus side of my frustrations was that my character was supposed to be angry, so rather than pulling up some deep Method-like anger-inducing moments from my past I concentrated on and increased how annoyed I was right then. Mark went in and I strode down the corridor preparing for my slightly later entrance, returning to the door positively fuming.
This took Mark slightly by surprise, and my increased anger did change the entire scene. With me being so threatening he couldn’t easily be as cheeky as he was before and those grapes I threw must have hurt. Sorry Mark! I’m pleased I had so much energy, but I’m also annoyed that I couldn’t manage this during rehearsals — it’s not ideal to spring it on my partner in the final performance and it may have been too much, unbalancing the scene a bit. Hopefully we were just good in a different way.
Also, I think I concentrated too much on the emotion at the expense of the character — there was little of the James character I’d worked out in there with me. But maybe, if it comes across OK, that’s not too bad? Maybe this is more of the Meisner approach rather than the Stanislavski?
Otherwise, apart from me pouring a drink too soon, all went according to plan and in no time it was over. Afterwards I was buzzing (well, as buzzing as I get) and was probably chatting too much myself backstage. It had been a great feeling to perform in front of strangers — I don’t think I’ve done that since school plays — and it’s a shame all those rehearsals were only for a quick ten minutes or so of action. Most people seemed pleased with their pieces and the (admittedly friendly and biased) audience seemed satisfied with what they’d seen. And I was certainly happier than earlier in the evening, which is probably better for everyone.