Closing Night Post / by Keen Admin

Friday November 13, 2015

The final blog post!  Sad to say goodbye to this one (and that is not always the case). Travels with my Aunt has been a remarkable, incredible experience from beginning to end. To end this blog I asked everyone from the Travels family for a favorite memory or specific thought to share. Couldn’t be happier to share these.

Kara Kaufman- Stage Manager

I've never experienced a rehearsal process during which the entire room dissolved into laughter so intensely and so frequently; the material is funny, yes, but this ensemble gelled so thoroughly from day one that the offhand jokes during breaks were just as infectious as the scripted ones. I literally laughed to the point of abdominal pain more than once, and that is just the best feeling to have. Nothing generates closeness quite so effectively (and enjoyably) as a shared sense of humor, and I am endlessly grateful for the one this cast brought into my life these past few months.

Joanna Muhlfelder- Assistant Stage Manager

Alright this was tough but I really have to go with Tom's invented line of "and he had three tooth in his head" instead of "and most of his teeth were missing" - you can give as much back-story as you'd like* But I honestly have heard him say that line in my head ever since and I laugh to myself every time. Just one example of the many, many laughs we've had during this process

*as far as back-story…we all have greatly enjoyed some of the ‘rewrites’ that have happened on occasion. This is live theatre after all. Tom, in particular, has had some doozies- When he describes Mr. Visconti in Act 2 he says “he was short, bald, fat and most of his teeth were missing”. On the night Joanna is speaking of he said “and he had three tooth in his head”. That was a favorite. Though I also loved the night he said, “he was short, bald, fat and none of his teeth were missing”.

Jonathan Silverstein – Director

It is hard for me pick a moment in something that has been so joyous from start to finish, but if I must:

In Brighton, Aunt Augusta tells Henry: "I was very fond of Wordsworth but my emotions are not as strong as they once were. I can support his absence, though I may regret him for a while tonight. His balls were superb."

Tom Ryan was concerned that "balls" might be too on the nose, so he had used (with Giles permission) the word "nuts" or "knackers" throughout rehearsal and early previews. One night in the second week of previews, he decided to substitute the word "balls" back in.  I am not sure if the cast knew or not (we didn’t, JR), but I was completely unprepared and howled with laughter. For anyone who knows me, my laugh can be loud and can last a while. I believe I had to cover my mouth. Jay had a particularly memorable expression on his face -- indeed, when he was supposed to be surprised he WAS. The audience loved it and it was clear it was the best choice. It never changed from that day.

It remains one of my many favorite moments throughout the process and I am delighted every time we get there in the show.

Rory Kulz – Actor

I think, more than anything, I'm going to retain a series of culinary memories of this show. The first day I was in rehearsal, Jay brought some delicious cake he had baked. Then followed Jonathan's copious backstage leavings of M&M's and Swedish Fish (of which I ate 90%), not to mention the odd performance days when the smell of barbecue would inexplicably waft into the theater. And finally, of course, Dan's homemade pork shoulder feast, which we will all remember fondly in our hearts and on our waistlines. 

Daniel Jenkins – Actor

As our skit draws to a close, some familiar dynamics surface.  The onstage life continues to be rich, and even gains a bit of vitality and discovery as we finish the run, but it is the offstage life that I get a bit misty about.  Dressing together, joking and debating current events, sharing challenges and victories great and small -- you know, life.  In the end it is the very small things I miss the most: the gentle touches of reassurance, the stream of small generosities exchanged in such an intimate space.  And, of course, the permission and fulfillment of much open-throated laughter.  What a great gift to be part of a community like this.  Much heartfelt thanks.

Thomas Ryan- Actor

These days, plays are put in front of preview audiences fairly quickly.  TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT had a few delays in getting started (including my missing the first 3 days of rehearsals because I was on holiday in Italy!), so really I felt ill equipped to be performing the play on September 29.  Learning my lines had always been the easy part, but with this play it became a problem for the first time.  I’d never before been on stage performing a scene with absolutely no memory of what scene came next!  Nerve wracking.  And I daresay we were all in the same boat.  Thank god, these three actors were there and between the group of us we got through it that first night and have become stronger every subsequent performance.  Many pieces of theater are referred to as “ensemble plays”, but I have never experienced that quite so literally as in my glorious experience on TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT.  Thanks, guys, for saving me more than once.

Jay Russell – Actor

Well, you’ve been hearing memories from me on this blog from day one but as the official blogger of Travels I will take the last word. I wholeheartedly agree with everyone regarding the incredible amount of laughter & delicious food we have shared, along with the terror of the first week of previews. But, I have to say the thing that comes to mind that really stays with me is a moment that I share onstage with each of the other actors. It is pretty much verboten among actors to discuss ‘favorite moments’ or ‘things other actors do that you love’ as it can often make the other actors self-conscious and take them out of the play. From that moment on they think, “this is that moment that so and so loves” So, usually if you are ever going to say something you wait til after the show closes. Not sure when Alejandro will post this final blog entry but if we are still running then I warn you Rory, Tom and Dan to skip this part.

I love looking deeply into the other actor’s eyes in this play and there are three moments in particular that I won’t soon forget.

At the very end of the play when Aunt Augusta and Mr. Visconti dance we all join together in a small circle- four Henrys together as one. I am across from Rory and I love that moment. Rory is such an incredible focused presence throughout the play but doesn’t often get to really interact with us. In that moment he is so moved and so present and I love connecting with him there each night. 

When Dan is playing Miss Patterson in the cemetery she grabs my hand and looks so deeply into my eyes- we’ve never talked about it but it is clear to me that she is seeing my father (the man she loved) in my eyes and it is just one of my favorite moments in the play. I completely lose Dan and see this small elderly woman so clearly in his eyes. Extraordinary.

Also near-ish the end of the play Tom and Dan and I are all sitting together in a row- Tom is Aunt Augusta and both Dan and I are dual Henrys in that moment with Tom going back and forth between us. There is a section where Tom is speaking to Dan for a few sentences and I am just looking at the back of his head (well, his bowler hat). Then he turns around and says to me “Why do you think I came to the funeral?” Because of what is happening in the play at that moment it is always a moment I, as Henry, both look forward to and dread at the same time. He slowly turns his head and his eyes meet mine. Again, like in the moments with Dan and Rory, his eyes are so clear and open and he looks at me with such a great depth and every night it moves me so deeply. I will never forget it.

So, with that I sign off for the very last time. Thanks readers for following the bloggy adventures of this journey with Travels. I have loved sharing them with you.

Until the next time….Much love and many thanks,

Ciao for now,
JR