Antony and Cleopatra had its last performance at Pigeon Creek this afternoon. I haven’t seen the show in over a month, so I guess it shouldn’t matter to me that it’s over, but it has been on my mind today.
People often are surprised that when I direct a touring show, I go home after it opens, and it just keeps rolling without me. The actors (and crew and tour manager if such things are part of that particular production) carry it along. I trust them, I don’t have qualms about handing it over. A lot of people–even other theater people–find this baffling. This letting go. But I know that the actors love the show as much as I do, that it wasn’t my show but our show. They built it as much as I did. Their decisions are the fabric of the show. I can trust them to continue to carry out my vision, because it became, over time, much less mine, and much more ours.
During my first Pigeon Creek show, many years ago, I learned that this combination of deeply knowing the show and deeply trusting the actors gives me the ability, for a couple of hours at a time, to peer through the distance between us. I remember having the very odd experience, sitting down to a late dinner with my husband and glancing at the clock, of realizing, Caesar is being stabbed right now. Because I knew that moment so vividly and had watched it so many times, my imagination supplied what my eyes were incapable of seeing.
I could be wrong, of course, in my transcontinental vision; someone could flub a line, a person in the audience could stand up and shout and derail the whole thing. Sometimes, as was the case today, they perform in venues I haven’t ever seen, and so my mind substitutes a more familiar one.
But my awareness is always tuned to what is supposed to be happening when the show is underway. I wish I could be there, but only because I enjoy those actors and those words and that world. Not because I think it needs me to be there, like some kind of constantly-in-the-way break-a-leg charm.
And tonight, when the silks settled for the last time, and they took their final bow, I felt that closing, too.
I have a thing that is…midway between a ritual and a superstition, when I have a show running. I don’t put my script away until it closes. I leave it out, on my desk or on the guest bed, or on the passenger seat of my car, as if I might be called upon to run back to rehearsal on short notice, just one more time.
Tonight, it’s time for these much-loved books to return to the shelf. And on to the next project, whatever that may be.