Previews Post #2 / by Keen Admin

Saturday October 10, 2015

I start to feel that I am sounding like Little Mary Sunshine but I am truly having the time of my life doing this play. The initial terror of not knowing what is coming next has turned to a sense of exhilaration. Still occasionally not sure what comes next but I feel such incredible trust with my fellow actors that no matter how far we might swerve from the rails that we will eventually get back on track.

The play gets better every night. It is incredible in such a short amount of time how the audience response continues to grow with each performance. I think quite a bit of that is our relaxation and confidence in what we are doing.  It’s such a unique and strange and often complex set up and I think an audience wants to feel that even if they are confused at first, that they are in good hands and eventually their initial confusion will pay off and have some clarity. 

A still from the show that show's one of Rory's more interesting characters that he gets to portray.

A still from the show that show's one of Rory's more interesting characters that he gets to portray.

It’s so interesting to speak to friends and audience members after each performance and listen to their thoughts about the story, the characters and how it all comes together. For example I love hearing what people think about Rory’s character (Actor #4). We have spent a lot of rehearsal trying to figure out what and who he is. He has so few lines, yet like us, is onstage throughout and wears the exact same suit and bowler hat. Is he a younger version of Henry? Is he an all-seeing version of Henry? Is he just there to move chairs and move the story along? Honestly I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I love that we leave it to each audience (and each audience member) to work it out on their own.

The 2013 West End revival of Travels With My Aunt at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

The 2013 West End revival of Travels With My Aunt at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Big night last night as our writer/adapter Giles Havergal was here from London and saw our production for the first time. We were all nervous, as actors and directors are always nervous when the writer is in the house. That’s why so many of us prefer to do plays with dead writers (no offense Giles) but Dead Writers Can’t Give Notes!
However, a relief for one and all…Giles seemed very happy with the production and our take on it. He initially adapted and created the piece in England over 20 years ago and played Tom’s role in the original production. It then played in New York and internationally for years and years. In the past few years there was a big revival in London and now we are the first big New York revival of the play.

Will be anxious to hear from Jonny when we get to work today more of his specific thoughts but he couldn’t have been more of a gentleman and more complimentary to all of us last night after the show.

We are entering those few shows prior to opening night (on the 15th) when we know that there will be critics in the audience.  No one speaks of this as many actors don’t want to know ANYONE who is in the house, particularly critics but it remains a fact of life. I think in the old days critics ALL used to come on opening night but now at least they are spread out over many performances.

With a non profit theatre company like Keen Company and a play with a set closing date good reviews are not crucial but they certainly help- not only to spread the word and get butts in the seats (always important) but to celebrate all the good work put in to make our production come to life (actors, director, designers, etc..) There is so much work that goes on in the weeks and months leading up to the two hours an audience spends with our play each night. Though every theatre professional will tell you “If you believe the good reviews, you’ve got to believe the bad ones too”, it is always nice to get good ones. I am extremely proud of this production and am hopeful that we will get plenty of ‘butts in the seats’ to enjoy it between now and November 14th. If you are reading this blog and haven’t bought your tickets yet...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!!!  Come to London, Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, Paraguay, and many other exotic locales with Henry, Aunt Augusta and the rest. You will be very glad you did!

Ciao for now,
Jay