Monday, June 30, 2008

Should We Do the Show Tonight?

The Next Stage brings up the subject of how many in an audience equals a performance ...

I'm often my own box office staff and producer when we put up a show. So, ultimately, we tell our actors that we hold the right to ultimately decide. Now, our actors will often not want to perform if there are less than five people in the audience. If one of those people are a reviewer or noted theatre member of the community, however, they will. But, they just don't want to do the show if it's a regular ol' audience member. We even had one of our casts almost mutiny because I made them perform for three people one evening. One of the people was a person I had acted with several years ago and I hadn't seen him since - he just happened to walk by the theatre and saw me at the box office. The other two were a mother/daughter team from Iowa that were interested in the show because the daughter had studied it in high school and they had planned on seeing it during their very brief stay in Chicago. They couldn't see it any other time because they were headed back to Iowa the next day. I made the executive decision that, yes, we were going to do the show. And the cast was infuriated. Which infuriated me. It wasn't a good night.

We have canceled shows based on low attendance, but I always regret doing that. Another example ... one of our good friends and fellow bloggers came to see A View from the Bridge. He was the only member of the audience on the night he came and we asked if he could come another night. He was very accomodating and said, "Sure, no problem." Unfortunately, he planned on coming our closing night ... which we had to cancel because one of our actors had the whooping cough and we couldn't put the show on (there were thoughts of me jumping in there, script in hand, but we decided against it because, at that time, I was on bedrest due to early problems in the pregnancy and I knew I would push myself over the limits in multiple ways.) So, our friend didn't get to see the show at all and I still feel guilty about that.

There's a "Show Must Go On" quality missing from a few of the actors we've worked with. Now, if an ensemble member has, say, the whooping cough and is hospitalized then, yes, that person should not be acting and we just have to cut the losses. I know that actors get tired - (we get tired, too), but ... I dunno. We've also had actors who are team players and want to perform no matter what. And know that it's our decision if we do the show or not. I like working with those actors.

So, I proclaim, from now on ... The GreyZelda Theatre Group will always perform the show unless there are no people in the audience. Actors, if you're reading, if you're not comfortable with that policy ... please don't audition or accept a role. We're there to perform, the space has been rented, the rights have been paid. Costumes have been put on, warmups done, lights checked, props checked, toilet paper in the bathroom. We're doing the show. And the show's going to be just as energized as a show played to a full house. Because we're all professionals. And that's how it's done.

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