Prior to the opening of Quotidian Theatre Company’s next play, Brian Friel’s Irish drama Dancing at Lughnasa, several actors in the cast are writing here about various experiences they have during the rehearsal process. All previous posts can be found here.
Over the last few posts, I’ve shared my thoughts on building the character of Michael Evans; the how and what of all that is involved in the process. Not often do you get the privilege of baring a show’s mechanics, and I’m honored that you’ve stuck with me on this exploration “behind the curtain.”
So, as a bit of payback, for my final post before this wonderful, touching show opens, I want to briefly explore the role you, the audience, play in this production.
Now, every actor, director, producer, singer, dancer — anyone in the theatre will tell you that a production is not ready until it goes in front of an audience. All the technical elements from sound to lighting to special effects can be perfectly in place, the actors can know their lines word for word, but it isn’t until there are people out there watching us that this clockwork springs to life.
And when it all goes right, the energy of a performance, flowing in a continuous feedback loop from performer to audience and back again, is what drives those thrilling moments that can only be experienced in live theatre.
So, where does that energy come from? It may seem obvious, but “an audience” is a singular being made up of many individuals, with each person’s reactions and energy contributing to the whole. And in a conventional play, the audience is transmitting that energy through the permeable barrier of the so-called “fourth wall” and is somewhat removed from the full force of the action.
But, as you probably know by now, Dancing at Lughnasa is not a conventional play!
Playwright Brian Friel’s genius lifts the quotidian nature of a family drama to the art of an unconventional play born out of the memory of one character, Michael Evans.
And I’ll also point you to the genius of our director, Craig Mummey, in placing Michael Evans on stage for the full length of the show. You, the audience, are represented in the character of Michael; allowing you to revel in the memory right along with him, feeling his joy, his grief, his wonder, his sorrow, all of his highs and lows.
My joy is being allowed to be Michael for you. Our clockwork is ready to spring to life — all it needs is you!
Brian Friel’s masterpiece Dancing at Lughnasa is a drama about five unmarried sisters eking out their lives in a small Irish village in 1936. It won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, and Time Magazine called it “the most elegant and rueful memory play since The Glass Menagerie.” Our production opens tomorrow. Tickets and further information are available here.