15 January 2005

Adventures in Theater Going - Past and Future

Okay, here's the story from the past:

I went to see -- (ha! Not Machinal! This is not the Machinal story!) (ahem) Hamlet several years ago. The company, Mobtown, was new, it was their first production, and it was very early in the run, so they'd had no time to create word of mouth. I can only hope that they got some as they went along because it was one of the best productions of Hamlet I've seen. Anyway, they were performing in a large, Gothic-y, decreptic, and deconsecrated church, so the acoustics were good and the setting was perfect. Something was rotten in Denmark, indeed.

Well, there were five of us in the audience - yes, five. One of my many theater rules is when the audience outnumbers the performers, you call it a win. And there a point in the show where I always get the giggles. I find Hamlet's comparison of his father and his uncle "See what a grace was seated on this brow ..... Here is your husband, like a mildew'd ear" to be completely hilarious. I get the giggles just thinking of it and I know when it's coming (Act III scene 4), so I tend to get a wee bit chuckly ahead of time. (I'm a wee bit chuckleheaded all the time.)

So there I was, trying not to get all giggly during this Masterpiece of the English Speaking Theater, when I was presented with the family Polonius. Old Man Polonius is about to fill his children full of good, dull, fatherly advice from which we could all benefit ("Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar," "Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice." I know I would benefit if I'd hewed more closely to said advice.) So Pops is droning away and the kids are nodding and smiling, leaving me free to notice that the director had cast two fair-skinned, red-haired people and the costumer had dressed them in lots of green and black. So instead of absorbing all the above wisdom, I just kept thinking "we'll return shortly to Hamlet, but first a few numbers from Riverdance!" at which point the giggles were not to be denied.

And I was, let's remember, 20 percent of the audience. And the acoustics were good. I could feel the actors losing focus as they wondered what the heck I found so funny. And I could see their corner-of-the-eyes darting glances in my direction. Which probably made me giggle more, I'm sorry to say.

So fast forward to this coming Friday: I'm going to see Henry V (Henry the Vee) and I have several pals in the cast. Unfortunately for them, Michael (my director) spent some time today working on breaking me of a habit he doesn't like by comparing it to "sighing during the St. Crispian's Day speech." Pause rehearsal for several long seconds while I fall about laughing and repeating "we few, we happy few, we -- sigh -- band of brothers." So now there is a non-zero possibility that I will get the giggles during one of the finest speeches Sheakespeare ever wrote. When my sweetie and the aforementioned pals will be on stage not far from me (ESP is a small house) and they will be armed with swords. And opening night nerves. And their director, who knows my giggle when he hears it, will probably be in the vicinity, armed with an occasionally caustic personality. So if I don't post for quit a long time, I'm probably recovering from being beaten by a lot of actors. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Casey Jones said...

Oh, Leta...

I too have gotten the giggles at inappropriate times. I have to say, though. The only thing worse than getting the giggles in the audience is getting the giggles on stage.

I feel a blog coming on. Hooray!