Doubles, Triples, Quadruples

It’s Saturday afternoon, in the thin window I have between a matinee and an evening performance. I have talkbacks on Saturdays, so that window is even thinner than it appears–and when you factor in warm-up and cool-down time, it’s no time at all.

People, even performers, who don’t do eight show a week runs don’t always understand the craft of shaping your time through the week. For example, five of the eight shows I do a week at ART are all within 48 hours–Friday night, two shows Saturday, two shows Sunday. It’s a slalom course, and you can’t really train for that kind of run in school–they can work your voice, but to learn to do long runs you mainly just have to spend time doing them, as any Broadway trooper will tell you. In the monologues the principle is the same, though the entire show depends on one person’s state of mind, so I find I become very hermetic and protective of my energy in a long run–small changes and variances that wouldn’t bother me when living my normal life become amplified. I suspect that it’s this effect that leads to accusations of “diva-ishness” made against people who perform–it’s a pain in the ass to live your life in anticipation of living intensely a few hours a day, and makes it hard to be present the rest of the time.

You do get used to it over time–I find it exhilarating, though it is also all-consuming. When we ran 21 DOG YEARS I did triples on occasion–2, 5 and 8–during weeks when I needed an extra day off for book touring. That was hard, but sustainable. When we go to Berkeley Rep this June with GREAT MEN OF GENIUS we’re going to be running the four monologues in repertory, and on Sundays I’ll do marathons of all four–quadruples! People keep asking me how I’m going to do that, and the answer of course is, “very carefully.” I’m excited about the marathons–I feel I’m at a point now where I can handle that, and I feel invigorated by the challenge.

In other show trivia: Bob Brustein, founder of ART and many other theatres, came ad saw the show this week and was incredibly warm afterward–he seemed genuinely moved, which was wonderful. Ryan McKittrick and Julia Smeliansky came today, and we’ll be talking to Ryan’s class at Brandeis this Friday about the work–should be fun.

Now I head back to the theater.

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