Saturday, May 07, 2005

Opening Night

We opened on Friday night to a pretty friendly house -- the usual friends and patrons of the theatre.

I have never been so nervous for a show in my entire life.

I don't know why, either. Still trying to unpack that one. People have different standards and expectations, sure. And our play's particular Abercombie backdrop doesn't hit the spooky verisimilitude that it did back east. How can it, when there's no Abercrombie within a thousand miles? That sounds snooty, I know, but when most suburban high school kids identities are so commodified and material bound -- there is something to be said for the branding of sentiment.

Of course, it didn't help that the school principle sent out a letter to all the parents explaining why he didn't feel right taking the kids to the show. In his opening sentence, he makes a tepid pitch for the show, but acknowledges a non-existent copycat killer threat. Where the hell did that come from?! I don't think it was there in the kids heads until this doofus decided to put it there out of his own fear. Funny thing is, the superintendant loves the show and thinks everyone should see it. But I guess she doesn't outrank the principal on that choice.

And it also didn't help that the Juneau Empire (newspaper) ran a weekly entertainment special featuring a picture of me, Dan, and Gene giving the Hitler Youth salute with eyes full of evil and a caption saying "Coming Soon!" Yeah. That'll really make the parents run out and pay $22 for some family entertainment.

The cool thing is, pretty much every random person I've given a post-card to in town has come to check it out. And our biggest night-time competitor isn't another theatre -- it's the sun. Seriously, we're in competition with the weather! Isn't that great? This is the first sustained patch of beautiful sky most of the locals have seen in months. And I welcome the challenge. Because some nights I'd rather be out on the beach myself.

We rehearsed for four hours before the show last night -- focusing on the library section. We walked through the police schematics of what happened that day and took another look at the faces of the victims (which I'm now convinced should be projected with each gunshot during the re-enactment since we have the temerity to show Eric and Dylan at the top of Act II). Anyway, it was extremely hard to pick up that trenchcoat and do that scene after that -- it's just too bizarre having your blocking determined by police sketches of an actual bloodbath. Strange that this apprehension is hitting me now -- I've only been playing this broken soul for two years. But something about the local fear of this story and my own spring awakening has made me feel the reality of this disaster more intimately than before.

Prom is tonight. Heh.

Afterwards, we all shuffled off to the Douglas Inn -- a posh little restaurant a block away from the theatre. I got even more strange stares than I did cowering through the lobby back in DC. The reactions were pretty much the same, except some people honestly had a hard time separating the psychotic character from ... me. The outreach director at the theatre is a nice native guy named Ishmael -- and he's working to get us into the school's English classes so kids can see the show and then dismantle the play in safe company. There was a gun threat at the school recently and some asshole actually had the gall to suggest that we arranged it for the purposes of marketing the play.

Moment of silence.

Can you believe that shit?! That's what we're dealing with here. True, there's a well-stocked gun store less than a mile away from the school. But I don't think anyone who's seen the show or read it would dare suggest it's a catalyst for the same behavior. Anyway, I'm glad we have some work to do with the community. I think the DC audiences had their own message to take away from the production, and that's fine. That's how it's supposed to be. But PJ was saying that the community was nervous about this show before it even arrived in town. Funny thing: because they were nervous about the show, they had a program in place to handle this recent gun threat more capably than before. So in some backward-ass way, it's been good to get people thinking about it -- even if they're only thinking from a paranoid vantage point right now.

I spent a long time talking to a teacher from the alternative high school in town. She and her husband told me about how most of the kids at her school are not necessarily behavioral or academic rejects -- they're just kids (50% native-born) who don't like the atmosphere at the public high school. Anyway, we got her blessing and she's trying to arrange for a class trip before the school year's over.

"Into the ear of every anarchist who sleeps but does not dream, we must sing, we must sing, we must sing."

The Juneau Underground Motion Picture society (JUMP) had their short film festival on the top of Mt. Roberts last night. They took the tram all the way above the city and watched a collection of short flicks made by locals and non-locals and then met over at the same restaurant where we were having our opening night party. Cool people. They're having a workshop tomorrow afternoon on writing and directing that I'm going to go to. There's a production company here called Lucid Reveries that actually edits DV on the same platform I use back at WILL Interactive. I might get to pick up some free-lance stuff before I leave ... cause where else am I going to get to jam on Adobe PremierePro for money? I've got to unload all these tapes I've been shooting to see if there's anything that holds together as a story. I think I want to make a documentary about getting a haircut. Just to see if I can get the tone and POV right.

Plans for a possible summer Equus are still in the works. We're hoping to do it on the beach, with fires and red-eyes in the forest and the tide and everything. Hell, if I'm ever going to play Alan Strang, it may as well be naked under the midnight sun with mountains and fire all around me. It's a perfect play for that kind of atmosphere. And if I can arrange to come home 20 days later than orignally planned, I'd love to do it. Then it's only a few weeks away from "Passion Play" and I can figure out the rest of my year from there.

My mom sent me a burrito in the mail. I'm afraid to open this thing, but ... good lord, you're silly. Jeez, what should I ask for next? A live squirrel? Seriously, though: the burrito and Boboli were delicious, mom. So thank you for taking up the Stage Mom Challenge of the year with characteristic aplomb. For those of you who haven't done a show with momma Miller nearby ... you should also know that this is the same woman who made "rabbit pie" for the Arcadia cast last March. By rabbit pie, I mean cherry pie with a stuffed rabbit head shoved into the middle of it. For This Is Our Youth, she didn't make pot brownies, but she did make brownies and threw in a suspicious-looking ziplock bag of weed-lookalike. I think John Bernthal smoked it anyway. And for Lord of the Flies she gave a bouquet of colorful fly-swatters. Tee-hee. Love ya, mom.


KC said...

Disheartening to hear the fears and obstacles that have met the Columbinus opening in Juneau, but give time and word-of-mouth its chance, and I’m sure you will see a turn around. The piece is just too strong and the performances too good for misplaced paranoia to squelch its momentum. I do understand the weird reactions you personally may be getting –-- even as a jaded old theatre person and someone who’s buds with you, I found it very hard to watch you in that role....not even easier the second time around...a back-handed compliment to the strength of your work. Hope Equus comes through for you. That play needs to liberated from its original boxing ring set-up, and you in the wilds of an Alaska setting sound like a perfect match. Aside from burritos…is there anything you guys have a craving for up there that you can’t get (I pack a mean care package!) -----kasi

yermom said...

Glad to hear the package arrived safely. Sorry, no live squirrels, hon. Enough's enough. I suppose I could "squirrel" some Maryland blue crabs into an extra suitcase when I come up to see you, though....

Hang in there with the locals. It could be some amazingly positive stuff if you can get those connections with the kids. I was approached by a teen who saw the show here who told me that seeing Columbinus "changed my life."

Love you too, Karl. I'm proud!

The Lighting Designer said...

Congrats on the opening. Don't take the reaction to heart. It's a hard one to know how to react to.

East Coast Alaskan Girl, Retired said...

hey you! congrats on your mary goldwater award!!!