Waking up on the morning after the Chicagoland premiere feeling refreshed and re-energized. Nothing gives me quite such sweet dreams as raising the blood pressure of 80 people all at the same time.
I think it’s fair to say that the audience didn’t know what hit them. Although this first Chicago audience was a quieter bunch than many of the houses we played to in Baltimore, they were still no less engaged with the play. In fact, they may have been even more receptive to Klavdiev’s work.
From the very first workshop production to now I’ve developed a pretty special contract with the audience, shooting holes in the Fourth Wall, talking to them directly, even earnestly asking for them to respond to the questions that I ask. “Almost too real for comfort” is what the Baltimore Sun said. I don’t know about that, but if the audience feels a little uncomfortable watching this piece, I’m ok with that. Dave and I talked many times about ways that we can safely “assault the audience”. This piece is not made for a passive audience. We want to put you on point. Dave puts it quite brilliantly in the curtain speech for the show when he says, “lean forward, get ready and enjoy the show.”
This isn’t “sit back and relax” kind of theater.
And looking out at the audience last night I could tell that even though they seemed quiet, they were hanging onto the piece. And so I adjusted. The play ran longer than ever last night, clocking in at just over fifty-one minutes. I guess I figured if they were listening so intently, I might as well take my time as I put the screws to them. A fifty-one minute spike to the blood pressure. I guess the Chicagoans who saw the show last night will just have to take it a little easier on the knockwurst this Oktoberfest.