Second Preview —
It is an article of faith among Theatre folk that the second night of a show is always a little off. I’m not sure if that is true. What I can say for certain is that every performance is different. Each time the lights come up on a show it is a singular experience. Last night was different from our first, and tonight will be different from the other two.
One thing that was different last night was that I suffered a minor injury. While climbing one of the steep ramps up to the stage I felt a sudden and very painful twinge at top of my left calf, near the knee. It was felt very much like a torn muscle I suffered two years ago while performing in Troilus and Cressida in the Delacorte. I was entering into a scene and was unsure of my mobility. I was literally testing to see how much I could walk while playing a scene with Othello. I got through the scene and limped off stage. I immediately informed stage management and prepared for my next entrance, and when the cue light went off I was limping back up the ramp where I had suffered the injury only minutes before. I decided to start my entrance early as I needed extra time to get up the ramp and onto the stage and across to center stage to start the scene. In the scene I’m required to make a graceful circuit around the stage and my attention was on the knot of exquisite pain in my leg while the words and ideas of the story were finding their way through me to the audience. I was trying not to limp and having a bit of success.
I got through the scene and got off stage. I had a blessed 15 minutes before my next entrance and used the time to ice my calf and down some ibuprofen. I got through the rest of the show and pulled together with the rest of the company to put on a great second performance of Othello at the Delacorte Theatre. The audience was on their feet at the end.
As ever the show was different. The raccoons did not make an appearance. My character Brabantio was not as passionate as usual, the character of Emilia was more outraged and heartbroken at the death of her mistress Desdemona. The beautiful Desdemona fought harder and longer to survive the wrath of the Moor Othello, and Othello was more horrified at what he had done. The villain Iago was more charming and more deadly than ever. We are all developing and evolving.
Afterward I joined the actress Kate Skinner and our PSM James Latus for wine and snacks and shop talk. My leg was throbbing but it didn’t feel badly injured, only sore. Company manager Liza Witmer had arranged a Friday appointment for me with the physical therapist Taaj Jahara whom I’ve consulted with before and who has a healing gift to go with her encyclopedic knowledge of the human anatomy. Kate and James and I told stories and laughed into the night. Alas, many of the stories were about friends and colleagues who have passed away. I guess that is what comes of a life in the theatre. Hell that is what comes of life itself…death. When we were all properly wound down embraces were made and cheeks kissed and we went our separate ways into the night.
I got a Bike and pedaled slowly home. We had put a second show behind us. But the adventure is not complete. It’s just starting.
More to come.