Opening Night

05May09

Late afternoon respite, in between this afternoon’s open dress rehearsal, (attended by a gathering of staff from The HarbourFront) and this evening’s opening performance of The Cleansing of Constance Brown. It’s become a feature of this show that at every outing, it seems, a new performer has to be integrated into the show.The Constance Brown set inside The Power Plant

Too expensive and impractical to fit-up and rehearse the show at home, opportunities have to be grabbed during the get-ins at the venues themselves. This way of working might’ve seemed unthinkable 10 years ago, but it has become part and parcel of the touring process these days. It’s simply too difficult to accommodate the availabilities of 10 freelance artists when 6 months or more may pass between bookings. The gigs in Bucharest last autumn witnessed the gradual integration of 3 new performers, (Ray, Jon and Alex) plus a new stage manager (Billy) and new lighting technician (Hugh) none of whom had ever seen the show before. Thank goodness for the dvd, recorded at the Warwick Arts Centre premiere in May 2007, though there’s no doubt the show has improved / refined itself since then.

Here in Toronto, Alex (previously playing Bernadette) has been rehearsed into the role created by Jan Pearson, whilst Gareth reprises the role that he adopted from Andy (and which has subsequently been performed by Nick Tigg and Ray Newe). It may sound bonkers but it certainly keeps an edge to performances. It’s a question of constantly having to readjust the dynamic and rhythm of scenes as the energy of a different performer is added to the mix. 

There was chuckling in the audience this afternoon– during all the right places – and a sense that the Toronto audience will respond warmly. The whole run has been sold out for ages, so here’s hoping they won’t go home disappointed.

The return of the Orange Billowing Mass

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