Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Reviews!

So. I want to be pre-emptive here. I try to avoid writing journal entries for shows that I'm appearing in, but this time I can't help it. The reviews for Psychopathia Sexualis will be coming out anytime now, and I'm struggling with wanting to read them. I will, of course, but it's hard to predict what will be printed and how I will react this time.

I apologize in advance, because this part will be pretty cryptic, but hopefully it is a very broad generalization that you will empathize with. I'm in between. I want to be taught, but I want to be intuitive enough to make correct and bold choices the first time. The last production I was in was punctuated by some very clear direction, which I was grateful for. In this, the director obliged me. But in hindsight, I felt something else. Not big dramatic changes, but leanings toward something just a bit different. And then, to top it off, one line in a review confirmed my thoughts. Now had I been insightful enough to anticipate these tendencies, I could have asked for a bit of artistic liberty and I'm sure my director would have agreed. I could have made choices that felt correct within the confines of the script, the cast, the technical aspects, and especially myself. Which means I'm supposedly learning, right?

Welcome back to the here and now...I have a show tonight. And I am struggling. Over the last two days I realized something; I was in Shanley's Doubt earlier in the season, a show baked in reality...whereas Psychopathia Sexualis has reality just laced in. Often I wonder how the same man wrote both of these, but I guess that might be beside the point. Anyway, my character is pretty minimal, which is a blessing (because I have the freedom to make some bold choices) and a curse (because I have a lack of hard character definition). Thus, I was oscillating personally between a farce-y, over the top Ellie and a realistic Ellie with feelings and choices that anyone can relate to upon the show's close. I attempted to take a look at my cast members to make my choice...and it seemed like half-and-half. No help there. Then I attempted to look at my space; it's a very intimate theatre. Realistic lighting, but then some farce-y music. When the theatre is empty, it's difficult to go overboard. Instead you want to bring the audience to you. But on the other hand, when it's full, it's almost overwhelmingly noisy and the laughs carry you instead. No help there, either. So I may have made a bad decision: instead of making a choice, I split the difference. I couldn't make a distinct effort either way to stand out. BAD BAD BAD. And now I'm upset. I absolutely will not change my character over the reviews...but what if I secretly agree? And what if I agree with opinions from my husband, my other theatre friends, the random audience member?

Here's the rub; the Ellie that I am playing works...she makes sense and the audience seems to agree. Our sold out opening night was an absolute blast! But I'm wondering if I watered her down too much, if my choices were too similar to the style I used for Doubt? And now that I've heard some opinions that echo my own, do I change? Probably not. Those thoughts may be confined to the retrospect. I take this as a lesson learned and do more work and make more decisions and ask for more table work earlier on. Since this is my second time feeling this way, I AM BEING PROACTIVE NEXT TIME!

Then there's always the possibility that the reviews hail Ellie as perfect :) And then I can attribute all of this to insecurity, riiiight??!

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