The final weekend of the show went quickly. Our second weekend went through a Thursday, Friday, Saturday night run and then closed with a Sunday matinee.
My cast surprised me Thursday night. Usually, on the final performance, the cast and crew give the director some kind of show gift that is a signed show poster that has been framed. They threw me a curve ball and did this on Thursday. Not only did they have a poster, but they gave me a cool Tattooine T-shirt and then the stage crew and I got crew shirts for the show within a show. See, the premise of our play was that the actors are putting on a murder mystery and then have to stop when they discover someone has actually been murdered. Our play within a play was not specifically named so we called it Southern Fried Murder (the play was very much written to be a cheesy soap opera feel). These shirts were pretty cool because it was almost an inside joke as to what show these were from.
Our Thursday and Friday nights were good size crowds with Saturday taking a bit of a dip. Not much else beats out college football in the south, and our little show wasn’t any different. However, the smaller crowd was much more responsive and laughed a lot more than the bigger size audiences. Each night is different; you never know how it will go.
Speaking of never knowing how it will go, check this: during intermission on Saturday night, I’m sitting in my usual spot in the common area of the dressing rooms, when I hear a voice talking from the women’s dressing room. “I swear I felt like such a cunt, I didn’t know if I’d be able to come into the theatre again…” Now that wasn’t a voice of one of our lady cast members, much less how any of them would talk. Then it hit me. The cast member that had dropped out two weeks before opening, let’s call her Mary, had come backstage to talk to the cast. Apparently, she had come to see the show. I heard her walking into the common room and for a moment I thought about making myself scarce just to not deal with the situation, but I played it cool where I was. She turned the corner and gave me a big greeting and sat down with me to tell me how sorry she was for dropping the show. Normally I would have been happy that she dropped by to support…if she wasn’t as drunk as she was. Now folks, when I say she was drunk, this chick was DRUNK. She has been known for always having alcohol on her breath when she’s been at the theatre, but none of us had seen her like this. She stood again and kept talking and wobbled like a Mortal Kombat character waiting for you to finish them. She went through all the things that she was being treated for at the hospital and how bad she felt but then thought to herself, “fuck it, I’m going to go see them.” It really would have been better for her if she had stayed home. Our stage manager quickly came back to “help her find her way back to the front and her seat” and then she was gone. We found out shortly that her boyfriend, who was rather ticked off, had taken her home right after Act 2 started.
We had a cast party that night after the show. One of our cast members lives across the street from the theatre and she was playing hostess for the night. We ate good food and watched the rest of the USC game. I left about 12:45 and got home close to 1am. Totally worth it.
Sunday was our closing show. We had about 135 people, which is good for a Sunday matinee. The crowd was alright – not our best – but was good. When the show finished up everyone started on the set strike. Our strikes go after the final show if possible and the cast and crew work to take the set apart and put everything up. With as many people as we had to help, this thing was over and done in less than two hours. As we were getting to the final pieces of strike, cast members took their leave one by one. A small handful of us stayed afterwards and went out to eat at a sports bar place downtown.
Set strike is something I never quite get used to. You see something that you have been putting weeks of your life in be taken apart and put away in mere hours. You also forget how big our stage is when all the set is taken down and the curtains are pulled back into the fly system above the stage. Am I sad that the show is over? Well, yes, but I’m not torn up about it. It was time for this one to pass on to the next. I have good memories with this show, despite all the crap we had to get through to get the thing on stage, but that is also what makes it so memorable. The cast and crew had a good time, and our audiences left happy they were there. As long as those two things happen, I consider the show an amazing success.
So now what? Well, things will shift for me a little. With today being October 16th, I’ve got about two weeks left to finish my outline for NaNoWriMo. I wrote for NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) last year and ended with a book at 55K words. After some initial edits on the book I gave it to some initial betas. After their great feedback, I set down for some rewrites that, well, took a while. I was stuck on how to reconcile some plot lines that were and were not working together. The framework I have now is nothing like what I started with. I’ll go into more detail on that at another time. But for now, I’m plowing ahead to get ready for November.