“I thought I was going to hate the play but I ended up really liking it!” I’ve had this comment given to me, in one form or other, probably a few dozen times in my career. It’s pretty much one of the worst “compliments” you can pay an actor. Who goes to a play that they think they’re going to hate??? I shudder every time I hear it.
I’m ashamed to admit that I was quite guilty of something similar, just the other day. I’m up in Sudbury working on Lindsay’s The Flying Bandit.
This past Friday was “student matinee” day. A one-man show about a bank robber from the 60’s playing for a student audience, eh?
I was positive that I was going to hate doing every second of the show. It’s been a long time since I’ve performed for a student audience and I’m not sure that “terrified” is the correct word, but I was pretty sure the first penny would be careening off the set around the five minute mark.
Boy was I wrong.
They were attentive and involved in the story from the first second. They audibly gasped when Ken escaped from jail and there was an involuntary, “Oh no!” when the gold was found in a snowbank. And best of all, they were dead silent during the dangerous moments. Not a peep, not a cough, not a shifting seat. Just me and them sharing a fantastic story together.
After the show there was a talkback session. Again, I was floored by their response. They asked thoughtful, insightful questions. Questions like, “How do you prepare before taking the stage each night?” Questions like, “How did you decide which characters would make it into the play and which wouldn’t?” Questions like, “What was your approach to creating the characterizations?”
If you were at the 11:30am show on Friday, March 26, 2010, you are officially the best audience we’ve ever had. Thank you. The memories of that show will be with me always.