mark, my words

April 16, 1998

"Listen to that! Would you listen to that!?"

It worked. I've got so much to say, so much flying around in my brain, I just don't know how to go about it. Perhaps it will just happen.

Five minutes before pre-show (more on that in a bit) I called my cast together one last time before the show began. I did it because that's how it was done everytime I'd ever done a show. The director has the cast come together before the show and gives a few inspirational remarks... I know that so many times I've assumed director's pull these talks out of thin air to pump their cast up. Perhaps, some do. I didn't. I thanked them for their time and dedication, but most of all for their trust. The rehearsal process is a scary one for both the director and cast member. The director has to find a way to get a cast to tell the story doing justice to the text as well as do what will make them look as good as possible. In order to do this he must have a cast that is willing to do what the director asks for. It's a cyclical process that can become problematic. Luckily I got through it.

I sat in the audience tonight with the Notre Dame "crew". I've seen the show so many times, the process of seeing it become second nature, until tonight rolled along. We had a packed house, every seat had two eyes on my stage. Four of my cast members begin the show as the house doors open, stretching and rehearsing to "Cabaret" and "All That Jazz". Very Brechtian. At least, that's what I'm calling it. (Note to those who haven't seen the show and are planning to, get your tickets and into the house as the doors open for the full effect). When the doors opened and Derrick began this pre-show, it hit me that this was "it". What was so magical, special, whatever you want to call it, was seeing the notes I've given for the past so many weeks to actors digested and work.

I know the feeling well, you finally have an audience and you just get that much more into the show than you ever had before rehearsing for a director and crew. I saw that in my actors tonight. I saw them lose the concept of rehearsing and live the text, live the music, live the moment. That's what it's all about. I watched the audience a lot. I had their eyes on my cast for 26 minutes. That felt good. During intermission, after my part of the evening had ended, someone told me that they enjoyed it but asked why it was only about ten minutes long. The fact that it seemed like only 10 minutes as opposed to near thirty made me feel like I had accomplished what I set out to do: short and sweet. Get up, do what you do well, and leave with them wanting more.

Many people have asked me what I enjoy more: acting or directing. I've given the same answer to all of them, something like "I love them both." In reality, nothing compares to acting. Being on stage, being in the moment, living the text is such a thrill. But, being able to, on opening night, be able to sit back and enjoy the work you put into getting the peice where it is is quite a thrill, as well. As an actor, I've never gotten "butterflies". I started young and never knew I was supposed to get them, I suppose. Perhaps, I do get them and just see it as being really excited, ready to go, motivated, pumped... thrilled. I got the same feeling tonight watching the show unravel.

A few of my cast members are virtually brand new to the world of theatre. There are a few of these newcomers who have come so far so fast. I see that the bug has bit and that they are having fun on stage. I love knowing that I helped them realize how fantastic it feels up there. I can sense that they really appreciate my giving them the opportunity. I don't mean that egotistically at all. Joel is a freshman, this is his first show ever and the first day of rehearsals he said he was scared of "screwing up". Now he's having a blast. A few weeks into rehearsal he said that he was dropping out of the fraternity he had just began to become involved with so that he could do the show. It's little things like that that make the process so worthwhile. "It's the little things you do together that make" theatre a joy.

After the show, the Notre Dame group took me out to the Fairmont for dessert. Kate had some ghastly brownie object that tasted like mouthwash. Speaking of Kate, as she was driving me to my car at the end of the night a cop pulled her over. Yikes! Why is it that when it comes to her and I car problems come up? Turns out she just needed to get an updated registration sticker on her license plate. Still, something spooky when it comes to the two of us and automobiles.

Mike Reynolds sent me what were supposed to be a dozen red carnations (It turns out they messed up and sent white, but still!) Bob Fosse sent red carnations out on opening nights... I've never been sent opening night flowers like this. I was really honored to get them.

The ACTF edjuticator from BYU is coming to tomorrow evening's performance. I'd babble more but it's 1:45 in the morning and I've gotta' be back at the theatre in less than ten hours to do it all over again.

It's easier for me to treat this journal writing as a place, often times, for free thought. I just write what I'm thinking as it comes out. For that reason, going back over it and fixing, fussing, correcting I fear will cause more harm then good. After this entry I'll no longer apologize for not spell checking or fixing mistakes. It's no longer due to lack of time. I want this as real as it can be. If that means you knowing that when I type fast I spell less than perfectly, so be it.

- mark


© 1998. Mark Bakalor. All Rights Reserved.