Jan. 26th, 2014

spatch: (Mr. Magoo)
A Man For All Seasons closed its run at the Factory Theatre tonight and the overall production was, after careful consideration, introspection, and opinion gathering, Very Lofty Indeed. We had some slow performances as a run of any length will have but we also had some absolutely terrific nights where everything came together and we hit for six as director Jon urged us to do. I maintain hitting for six would have been easier if we'd had bats, but we seemed to adapt just fine. One of the powerful moments of the show was the incredibly moving and intimate scene in the Tower of London where Sir Thomas More says goodbye to his family one final time. All four actors involved, Ron, Jenny, April and Christopher, drained themselves every night working up to an emotional intensity which is tough to reach two or three times, let alone ten. And when this intensity is set in a small performance space so that no audience member is more than fifteen feet away, it carries. There were sniffles. Tears. Tissues deployed. I heard 'em, I saw 'em, some may admit to 'em.

Understatement, then: we had a strong show. People said some very nice things and we managed to sell out seven of our ten performances. On the one hand selling out the Factory isn't difficult since it seats, at best, fifty people who are very comfortable with each other. On the other hand are five fingers that say this is a damn fine accomplishment for the first production of a tiny shoestring theatre company; it happily means the Porpentines can plan to put up two more productions this year and I can't wait to see what happens.

The Common Man got around just fine on his crutches. Not a single trip or fall, I am proud to report, though I did sorta kinda crash a chair into a piano after one exit. (I thought the chair was not going anywhere. It had other ideas.) While most of my set changes had to be reblocked after the accident and given to other people I did keep a few I could do with my crutches, including bringing down a screen for the execution shadow play and pulling down a small string of banners for the trial scene beforehand. I did not execute Sir Thomas with a crutch, though during the first weekend I had to use it when the screen didn't come down properly. For the first few nights the screen was a roll of paper which was supposed to drop neatly between the audience and the chopping block. It never did. A little too weighty for the task, it would inappropriately bounce off the block, the basket for the head, or once, almost Sir Thomas. If and when this happened, Jon would cut the backlights entirely, and I'd slam the damn crutch down in blackout just to get the sound across. It was our contingency plan, y'see. I contingenced, dammit. And so did Jon, who installed a lighter cloth screen for the next weekend's performances.

I maybe ought to take this opportunity to mention that the Factory Theatre is, indeed, located in a former piano factory in downtown Boston. The house appears to be in a former loading dock; it's a two-story bare brick room with enough length and width for a piano-totin' truck and all the mechanical hoisting thingamajiggers required to haul pianos into said truck. It is cold, it is drafty, there is only one bathroom and it's horrible; it is theatre in the rough and it is glorious, even if a bit masochistic.

The bathroom deserves special mention since it smells like a truck stop with kidney problems and the door locks every time and the key is usually lost so for god's sake prop the door open when you leave or we'll all be peeing out in the parking lot. The bathroom is also home to a very friendly cockroach who I presume acquired several nicknames, some of them pejorative and one of them pronounceable only by a shoe, from the cast and crew. (I called it Frankie.) And along with cockroaches, I learned this weekend that the place has spiders.

From what I can piece together, the trial scene on Thursday night was enlivened by the unbilled appearance of a large gray spider, presumably living on the ceiling where the string of banners I have to pull were pre-set. Either annoyed by or curious about my crutch-banner-flailing, the spider decided to descend and check out what was going on. By this time, however, I had pulled the banners down, engaged in a bit of business with Cromwell, put on a fancy hat (I got to wear a lot of hats in this part and I sure like wearing hats!) and took my place as foreman of the jury. And wouldn't you know but my place as foreman of the jury just happened to be underneath both the spider and a well-focused special, which lit up the upstaging bastard as it made its way down right next to me.

I had no idea this was happening. I was too busy focusing on Cromwell's prosecution, Sir Thomas More's defense, and Rich's perjury. I was the foreman of the jury, see; I had to watch the trial. WITH GREAT ATTENTION. BECAUSE I AM PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS TRIAL BECAUSE I AM THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY.

Anyway. According to [livejournal.com profile] usernamenumber, who attended Thursday night, the spider ad-libbed its way down nearly to my hand. At that point I made, with that hand, an unrelated motion BECAUSE I AM THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY AND I AM REACTING, AS ONE DOES, TO SOMETHING SOMEBODY SAID which unnerved the spider enough to make a retreat back into the rafters. And I had no idea. How fortuitous for that reaction! I thought after hearing the story. And how nice I now know why I came home one night with bites all over my back. I must have met its friends. I don't like spiders but they sure like biting me.

I would like to report that the rest of the weekend was spider-free, but it apparently wasn't. The spider apparently pulled the same damn trick tonight, dangling perilously close to my hat, and once again I was completely oblivious because I WAS THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY DOOT DOOT DOOT HEY NONNY NONNY. I admit to being a little apprehensive about sitting under Spider Central after Thursday's incident, but until I heard about tonight's spider I was relieved that there hadn't been any further arachnid intervention. TO MY KNOWLEDGE.

Any lingering relief vanished quickly a few hours ago as I was telling the spider story over post-show drinks. Sharon, one of the Porpentine founders (and who, among other things, painted some marvelous heraldry for the set) was very surprised to hear the spider had come down again.

"Oh, you saw it on Thursday night too?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Last night. That spider landed on your hat and was crawling around. I was worried it'd make its way down onto your face!"

Tonight I experienced one of those rare moments when one feels so very blissful to have been so ignorant.

I have since been reassured that, knowing my incredible professionalism and solid steadfast love for The Art, I would have quite capably dispatched the spider and in-character to boot had it invaded my face. I believe it would have been well within character to shriek, flail about, and say some choice nine-dollar words BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY WOULD DO.

tl;dr I WAS THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY AND A SPIDER NEARLY BIT ME ALL OVER ON THE FACE THREE NIGHTS RUNNING. HURRAH.

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