The Perfect Storm

The Famous Critic I Have a Hero Crush On (hereafter known as TFC) came to our show on Friday.  I have followed this woman’s critiques since I was a kid (because I’m that kind of geeky), and I was so excited that she would even respond to my press release, nevermind come.  So.  Excited.

An excitement I knew could only spell doom.

I didn’t tell anyone she was coming because I didn’t want to freak my cast out.  I needn’t have bothered.  Because my cast was already freaked out, each for their own special reason.  I looked at the audience list and realized that we had a perfect storm brewing.  Important family members!  Fifteen street-involved teenagers!  Famous actor who intimidates my professional actors!  One extremely mentally ill community member!  Two drinks-Listerine-recreationally-community members!  And TFC.  Awesome.

I watched TFC walk in and sit by herself.  I then watched one of our classic looking street-involved gentlemen (white beard, large coat, smattering of plastic bags) walk over and sit directly next to her.  The coterie of street-involved youth waiting for the show to start spoke loudly, opened pop cans, changed seats.  From my position in the booth, I could see TFC’s eyes bugging out, her knuckles blanching.

The show got off to a rocky start.  There were surprise costume changes, line losses, untimely guffaws.  By Act Two, TFC was gone.

And here’s where I tear in half.  I understand why she left.  Because it wasn’t professional theatre; it was street, street, street.  She goes to Stratford, she sees War Horse.  She doesn’t have to sit next to people who smell.

But the thing is, people who smell never get to see anything good.  The Listerine drinking angels sat through the whole production.  They can’t, and maybe won’t, sit through anything else.  And it’s not fair.  And it means that critics walk out on us.

On Saturday, we did a show as crisp as a newly laundered sheet for an exquisitely behaved audience.  We can do things like that.  But I don’t have control over when we do them.  It’s what trust-risking means, it’s what interdependence means.  It’s messy.  And it’s life to the full.

-SB

One Response to “The Perfect Storm”

  1. Maggie says:

    It’s a beautiful mess, Shannon. And it’s one that God loves, embraces, and cherishes. And so WTF if TFC splits at intermission. Her loss. And all the time, effort, heart and soul poured into that production is our gain. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and diving into the messy stuff with us all. For what it’s worth, I thought Friday’s performance was brilliant, with all of its colour.

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