Pride and Prejudice: Post Show
It felt odd to be back on stage. It is nerve-wrecking and exciting, and it can pass in a haze of adrenaline. At times I feel like I am missing something as it doesn't feel to me the way others describe it. While many describe acting as 'fun,' it's not the word I would use. I often struggle to respond when asked if I am enjoying myself. I find it satisfying when it goes well, and find pleasure in that, but it requires a lot of work and focus. It also requires commitment to embody the character and to try to bring them to life and tell their story. In some ways I think I enjoy the rehearsal process more than the final performance, but then our performances tend to be quite short runs, so feel like they are over in a flash, unlike the rehearsals which run for months.
Rehearsals involve less risk than a performance. We get to improvise and try new things, and to find out what works and what doesn't. We get time to laugh and to create connections with the other performers and the production team. They are also hard work and can be incredibly tiring. On stage you do something once, in rehearsal a difficult moment can be run over and over again until it works well and you are ready to lie down in a heap. My character also spent a lot of time running around and screeching, which required a lot of energy and intensity and also made me aware of the limits of my own physicality. I had to be careful about my voice as some of the utterances made are difficult such as sighing loudly and screaming.
Live theatre is an exciting form of entertainment. No two performances will be the same. There will be differences in line delivery and differences in how I react to the other actors based on their performances. At the end of Act 1 I rip up a letter. In one of the performances, as I went to grab the letter, I accidentally threw it into the air. Having to catch that letter and continue the scene added extra intensity and something that was only there for that one performance.
Maintaining the right balance of energy and focus before going on stage can be challenging. We don't get to rehearse in the theatres we use, so there are so many distractions when we first arrive. During this production some of the cast members ran the warm-ups and I really did enjoy the exercises for focus and grounding the cast before we begin. I was the only actor on stage right when "places" was called, so I got to be by myself before the start of the show, which I also found helpful as I used that time to get grounded and to get ready to burst on to the stage.
I need to feel grounded as acting involves a balance between having the freedom to react to what is happening and the precise execution of saying the correct lines and standing in the place that is expected by the tech team and the other actors. Elements such as the lights couldn't easily move if I messed up and ran too far across the stage. I also don't want to be in the position where I put off the other actors as I am doing something strange or completely unexpected. Mind you there is no perfect performance and things will go wrong, but making sure that these are minimized and that you can cope with them is essential.
I enjoy collaboration and scenes where I get to work closely with the other actors. The character I was playing spent quite a bit of time holding forth and proclaiming things, and it seems that some of those sections are remembered to the audience. At one point I started a scene with, "Balls, balls, balls, I cannot get enough of them!", which is a line that certainly has made my role memorable. But I preferred the smaller scenes where I was responding to a conversation being lead by another character or where I got to feel the chemistry and energy between characters.
Of course, there is no performance without an audience. There is something very satisfying in hearing the audience laugh when a joke lands or hearing them respond to a moment that you never knew would connect or work well. It can be fascinating as every audience responds differently and enjoys different moments. There were instances when the audience burst into spontaneous applause at unique moments, creating unforgettable memories.
I am grateful to everyone who came and supported the show and for the cast and crew who gave up so much of their time to create this production.
Cast and Crew of Tokyo International Players production of Pride and Prejudice: Photographer - Carlos Quiapo