Audience reception to our performance was markedly positive, I thought. Everyone I talked to enjoyed the show. (Actually, it’s more appropriate to say that they said they enjoyed the show. Sometimes you don’t really know, because people will most likely tell you they liked it, or it was good, etc. etc. However, most reactions seemed to eagerly express more satisfaction than is obligatory, so I assume their responses were more excited and genuine than the generic obligatory validation of the show.).
I count this alone as a great accomplishment for a show, as perhaps the most important accomplishment. If a show garners other achievements, if it offered other benefits to its viewers, how significant are they if audiences didn’t enjoy the experience? It’s even hard for me to think of examples that may qualify, but perhaps we could compare to the highly controversial Measure Back. Though I remain the only person I know who will admit to having enjoyed this show’s experience, it certainly provoked discussion among its audiences, and it can consider that one success; however, one could argue that these discussions would have been much more productive, had certain elements of the show been, to use this more as a catch-all term, “more enjoyable.”
Most friends and family that saw our production were also eager to discuss it, and multiple facets of the show, I should add. The doubling, in particular, offered plenty of material for discussion. I found very few people react to this element with distaste, and it quite effectively appeared to serve the Brechtian purpose of provoking detached thought. Even the least critically-inclined of my family, for example, had a good many thoughts to share about it. Generally, the doubling provoked audience members to compare the characters depicted from act to act. I found, however, that audience members differed in what they made of this comparison; some where more likely to compare in the more competitive terms, asking themselves, “who do I like better?” while a more sophisticated comparison came to others more easily: “what do these choices, and my tastes for these choices, say about the characters and the variable methods of portraying them?” My family members got to see the show multiple times, and quite interestingly, the responses they reported appeared to move toward the more sophisticated end of the spectrum as they saw more shows, though they always began seeing the doubling primarily as competitive. This could be due to their relationship to one of the performers, and the (at least initial) disappointment that they wouldn’t see me do more.
People also seemed to follow the action of the show surprisingly well, the doubling posing few challenges to their understanding of the play and plot. Even when it did, the challenges didn’t seem to be so great as to hinder someone’s enjoyment of the show. A couple members of one of my classes were actually confused only by the mixing that happened in the doubling; it seems they thought the casts were to remain separate, and were thrown off when Nick and I separated from the others we had played opposite.
Sonya’s final monologue has always puzzled me a little, and I wish I would have questioned more people about their opinion of it. I was somewhat surprised that so many people came out of the show uplifted, as I think there’s something horribly dismal in Sonya’s prescription to wait for any kind of after-life salvation. One might understand it as advice that the audience should not take, or something more complex yet, hence my desire to know what our production evoked in people. I’ll prod the few remaining friends who have yet to share their thoughts.
Having been on stage to watch the equivalent of one-half of the show, I suppose even my perceptions as a pseudo- audience member are somewhat valuable. Considering how many damn times I had to watch acts two and three, it was remarkable how often I was enraptured by the moments on stage (exclusive from the moments that interested me because of their “difference” from the standard run). There were always moments in which the right energy and timing had me at the edge of my seat, and my colleagues always recreated beautiful moments that I could enjoy and appreciate, even though I knew exactly what was supposed to happen. So here’s to you, your talent, and your beauty, friends!
It’s been such a pleasure working with all of you. I eagerly await our next theatrical encounters!