Thursday, January 20, 2011

Curtain Call

Last night we rehearsed our curtain call, the point in the show where the actors receive the applause of the audience.

It's an important gesture because this is where the audience gets to show appreciation, and the actors openly acknowledge it. It is "thank you" and "you're welcome" writ large. A bad curtain call can leave a bad taste after a good performance. There is something most ungracious about a sloppy curtain call.

The cast of Crime and Punishment was given a choice of exiting as a company out to the front lobby to receive people after the show or to move in the direction of the dressing rooms, at which point actors could go into the lobby individually or go back to the dressing room to wash up.

After the curtain call, I am used to disappearing. After giving my best performance, and then sincerely bowing to those who came to watch, my job is done. It's time to mop off the makeup, get into my own clothes, and leave the temple -- er, the theatre -- with dignity. If I know there are friends coming, I'll go out and see them, of course. I'm grateful to them for coming and waiting to see me. However, even here, I prefer to keep a low-profile so as not to put myself on parade.

This is what I saw growing up watching plays at Trinity Rep through the 1980's, when I was pretty young and impressionable. The actors would give these wonderful performances, some of them unforgettable, and they would bow and disappear into the wings. Many years later, when I started performing there myself, I emulated that, exiting quietly through the stage door on Empire Street.

It's not really humility, as fellow actor Billy Zimmerman suggested last night. Goodness! If only he knew. Privately, I enjoy the occasional compliment, sure. It's nice to feel appreciated. But I don't want to upstage the work. Sometimes we make theatre all about the performers whereas for me it's something more like church. I'm a singer in the choir, and the glory is not for me.


Kelly said...

At our local theatre the cast usually moves to the lobby after the performance. Personally, I find this a little awkward. I never mind congratulating friends I have in the cast, but moving down a "receiving line" always seems a bit forced.

Nathan said...

Acting in Crime and Punishment - how cool is that!

Unknown said...

It really is a personal preference thing, which is why I have blocked it as I have. Some casts like to visit with the crowd every night. Others do not. Many are of mixed feelings. I find that on a comedy or musical, particularly one that is kid friendly, it is fun to visit the audience. The kids love to meet players. However, I'm not as keen to do so for a drama. If I come out at all, I stay back in the auditorium where people can come to me if they choose.

In regard to the opening night reception, the reason we ask all players to come out is simple. We as an arts community are dependent on volunteers, and it's important to demonstrate periodically that we're all regular people. Many get caught up in the idea that we are all "professionals;" when they have a chance to talk to us and learn things (like our day jobs) it relaxes them and inspires them to get involved themselves. It's not so much so you can get a pat on the back, as it is for patrons to meet the volunteers who make up our thriving arts community and realize indeed, they can do this too.

All that said, I do understand your position and you are under no obligation to "hob nob" as it were after the Gala. Truth be told were the rolls reversed and I was in this show, I'd probably not either.

Algernon said...

Thanks for dropping in, Shaun!

(Shaun is the director of our show, in case you didn't deduce that already.)

Make no mistake, I like a good party, and will gladly hob nob at the gala. You are right that theatres depend on volunteers and, in addition, donors! So yes, it is part of an actor's job to mix and mingle at appropriate times, to be available and to show appreciation for those who help to sustain the theatre.

(Sidebar: I am also a big fan of audience discussion nights, where actors come out after a performance and engage with the audience that way.)

quid said...

I love your approach.