Thursday, October 04, 2007

Long Night's Journey Into Post-Performance Discussion

On impulse, and because his work schedule coincided with the 10:30 pm final curtain for *Long Day's Journey* out at SFCC, Bobo ventured to his first Wednesday-night post-performance discussion at Actors Rep.
And was nervous about it.
The review, while largely positive, had criticized Wes Deitrick's acting (and John Hofland's set). Would Wes refuse to talk to me? Had I lost a friend?
For three days after I saw this show about people in denial, I was hyper-sensitive to all the ways I'm in denial myself: I'm too impatient, too angry all the time, neglectful of family and friends, work and life out of balance, messy, snobbish, slobbish, too in love with the sound of my own words, irresponsible, full of procrastination. LDJIN really affected how I look at and appraise myself. It struck a chord; it must have been a good production.
"You worry too much." "You think too much." My mother's mantras. Well, Ma, due respect, but I like how much I think about things.
Maybe I _do_ worry too much, though. I worry about that.

(A similar period of self-doubt -- call it Reviewer's Remorse -- set in after after I'd criticized some of the actors in the Civic's *South Pacific.*)
So, I guess, I wanted to reconnect with LDJIN.
The point is, Wes was a class act all the way. I (probably) hurt him, and yet he shook my hand and smiled. It's not personal.

Perhaps best of all was the demonstrated level of interest in theater:
After a three-hour show, about three dozen people stayed for 45 minutes afterwards, asking plenty of interesting questions about the biographical angle, production history, the rehearsal process and how the textual edits were made, and so on.

After the discussion group had dispersed, Michael Weaver made a point of calling me up onto the stage, so I could be close to the set "since you hated it so much."
He was laughing, but half-serious. It was a healthful consider-your-impact-on-real-people moment. But whatever the merits or demerits of John Hofland's set or my opinion of it, it's healthy for all of us to remember that we're on the same side, all wanting theater to be better, that real human beings expend a great deal of time and energy on an art form that they love.
Conversations -- way too brief -- with the likes of Carter Davis and Karen Nelsen reminded me of just how much I enjoy speaking to actors and directors.
Some people have church; I used to; now I have theater.


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