Saturday, November 19, 2016

Long Division: Opening

So we're officially open. Last night was a full house, there was a good energy, and the actors nailed it. Richard insisted I take a bow, which I didn't really want to do. But it did allow me to sneak backstage with the actors afterwards and give them each a card and little joke gift, as well as share a quick sip of prosecco with them in the dressing room before the public reception put on by the Gateway.

Richard had said the night before, after Thursday's preview, that he thought folks would either love the play or hate it--which we both agreed was better than a meh reaction. I had some great conversations with audience members last night who fell into the former camp, although it mostly seems the critics so far are firmly in the latter. Not sure why, when it's obvious from the beginning that the conceit of the play is lecture-performance you'd dwell on the fact that there's not enough conventional storytelling. I also wonder why it was the preview performance that got reviewed instead of the opening. Oh well.

None of the actors could go out for a drink afterwards, as they have a 2 pm matinee today. So before we all scattered from the reception I gathered them together to tell them about the dream I had had about the play the night before. I never remember my dreams, but this one was incredibly vivid. It involved the entire cast and crew passing around a bong (which was no doubt planted in my subconscious by the fact that on Thursday afternoon we had been joking about a version of the play called Bong Division). In the dream, the police suddenly arrive and decide they have to arrest someone--whether for getting high or doing so in the theatre is unclear. They settle on Jay Clift as the fall guy--likely again this was related to the fact that in the play Jay's character, Reid, talks about being a small-time weed dealer in high school. Then again, it could simply be because Jay is so tall and he was easiest to pick out of the crowd. At any rate, the whole production was thrown into a tailspin because of this, requiring us to find a replacement Reid at the last minute. The candidate turned out to be a whiz at memorizing his lines in no time, but when it came to the choreography he decided that the best thing was to improvise. Unfortunately his improvisation involved doing grand jetes and multiple pirouettes across the stage during everyone else's monologue. The last thing I remember from the dream is Jethelo, our stage manager, madly trying to write down all the new blocking as Lesley, our choreographer, sunk deeper and deeper in stunned bewilderment into her chair.

Afterwards, over still more drinks with Richard, Lesley, Jethelo, Shayna Goldberg, Pi's GM, Rob Maguire, President of Pi's Board of Directors, and my Richard, we all agreed that ours is just about the best cast ever. Given all we've thrown at them--10+ minute monologues filled with math jargon, complicated choreography--and given all that they've been through during the process, it's such a gift to see them embrace the material so fully. And we get to do it all over again in April.


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