Unmasking The Malcontent: v. XI

“At your service, by the Lord, la. Shall’s go to supper? Let’s be once drunk together, and so unite a most virtuously strengthened friendship.”
–Malevole, THE MALCONTENT, Act II Scene 5

JD Cullum and Possum Friend. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

I hinted before at the four-day lag between Sunday afternoon and Thursday night’s performance being dreadful and terrible to overcome. It’s not for fear of growing rusty in my lines and blocking that those four days move so slowly; it’s only (and this is just between you and me, understand) that I miss everyone. Luckily, we soften the pangs of the four-day distance through long and serpentine email chains which spring I know not from where. This last one started innocently enough with an email from our Stage Manager about our call times for the week; 75 messages later, we had concluded (amongst many other not-blog-appropriate things) that “‘Is’t pity” is a dangerous array of syllables to re-arrange, that Adrian LaTourelle prizes the safety of his children over punctuality (hack), and that JD Cullum is retiring from the stage to pursue a full-time career writing witty one-line emails (it’s an art).

The Cast. Working Hard. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

Casts are an odd social construct that can most closely be compared in dynamic to a family unit. By nature of the double casting, ours is an extended family holding weekly reunions at which you never know exactly whom you’ll see; it even comes complete with your Crazy Aunts, your Drunk Uncles, your Favorite Cousin, and your Cousin You Think Might Be the Unibomber (I’m not going to attach names to these: they know who they are). With that also comes all of your usual family tensions, of course, but we keep remarkably well-composed for such a large group of talented people confined to so small a space. I think this is due entirely to Cast Love.

Adrian LaTourelle and Ramon deOcampo in disguise. Photo: Abby Wilde

Cast Love is a certain blend of powerful, binding affection that weaves its way into all the best of performances. It is built on an intricate foundation of many-layered inside jokes within the script, miniature romances that start onstage and end just a few feet off, vestigial remains of past-cast alliances reignited in rehearsal, and a few private friendships which only serve the purpose of safely gossipping about everybody else. Cast Love is what breeds dressing room drama, intermission philosophy, back-seat directing, and Showmance. Cast Love is what keeps everyone at the theater hours after the curtain comes down getting steadily more inebriated and shouting White Snake medleys at the top of our lungs, accompanied by the only three of us who know what they’re doing with a piano. Cast Love is what makes everyone else in an actor’s non-show life seem further away by comparison, and the days away from the theater so long, lonely, and languishing.

Sadly, Cast Love almost entirely evaporates within three days of the final curtain call.

Adam Meyer and Bo Foxworth. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

It’s not to say friendships made during a show will no longer exist after, or that none of went on during the show counts for anything in the Real World. But take the show away, and what will we gossip about? What reason will we have to spend hours in each others’ company every weekend? What innocent excuse will we have to regularly see each other almost completely undressed? It’s a sad truth of the profession that many of us will run in to each other some weeks after the show is closed and have only three things to say: “How have you been,” “That was a great show, wasn’t it,” and “See you soon.” Cast Love is temporary.

But until that final curtain, it is strong, beautiful, makes wonderful memories, and most importantly, lays the groundwork for casts to come. I am sad that this show will soon be over; but I simply can not wait for the next one.

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, continues to share her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent . This is the eleventh installment. For tickets, visit www.antaeus.org

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