Adieu, My True Court Friend: Saying Goodbye to the Malcontent

At approximately 5:30 on Sunday, June 19th, JD Cullum spoke the closing words of THE MALCONTENT for the last time.

Abby backstage.

As the Cuckolds cast had the honor of the first opening performance of THE MALCONTENT, it seems only fair that the Wittols had that of the last show. The beginning of that afternoon had a slow and heavy quality about it as the Wittols cast assembled at the theater for the final time; I don’t think I’ve ever seen us less frenetic than that, lounging about, lethargic and depressed, awaiting the final dance call at 45 minutes before curtain. In shows past, nearly all the men would be fully dressed by then, and the women wearing wig-caps, corsets, and petticoats at the very least, and we’d run through our dance-steps at a full sprint; this time it seemed none of us had yet discarded our streetclothes, and I could have sworn we’d all only just rolled out of bed as we ambled onto the stage and nodded hello to one another. Matters were hardly helped by the computer in the sound booth which elected to crash in lieu of playing our music for us. But Deirdre Murphy (Artistic Coordinator for Antaeus, and our third in a line of stalwart stage managers) managed to get the beast cooperating again, and at last, the last of all dance calls began.

It is at this point that I must pause my play-by-play of that afternoon. You see, the moments before the cast clears the stage and the auditorium is opened to the audience are sacred and private, and really oughtn’t to be laid open to the viewing public in a medium so mundane as a mere blog. Exposing these things in cold detail would be a sin comparably egregious to denouncing Santa Claus to a room full of sick orphans. The naked truth is that the moments a cast has onstage together before the audience sees them are a powerful brand of secret magic. These are, to tell bare fact, the moments of camaraderie that separate the actor from the spectator, the moments of raucous laughter that fuel the opening scene, the moments that reinforce our united efforts to breathe life into the words of a playwright long dead but not to be forgotten.

Abby assists Saundra McClain with her wig. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

…These are the moments that at least one of us has incriminating pictures of (Laura), and which, even now, send me into crippling bouts of giggles.

As such, I shall leave these un-illuminated moments to your own imagination and resume at the moments after. I’ll only add that the direct result of this legendary dance call was a complete banishment of our general melancholy; we bolted upstairs with a burst of energy and frantically dressed as the final half hour ticked itself away and the house began to fill. Miraculously, all was in readiness when the call came for ‘Places.’

***

The last performance in any run is a cast’s last chance to give the audience, and each other, a well-told story, and I think we really made it count; as the final show unfolded, it became clear that we had all truly brought our last show with us to the theater. Our responses to each other were raw and unexpected, and the actors spoke their lines with an honesty and reality that belonged to the first time rather than the last. The audience was quick and generous with their laughter, and easily kept up with us as we navigated the complex twists and turns of Marston’s dialogue and plot. My favorite moment of the show was, as it has always been, that fabulous little sigh of appreciation that sometimes escapes the entire audience as they hear the final rhyming couplet of the play, just before the applause rings out; that’s when I truly feel we have been successful. Somehow, it’s more honest than applause all by itself.

Photo: Geoffrey Wade

We took our bows and filed offstage, where we unlaced our corsets and rolled down our tights for the last time. After the show, we filled the library with food, friends, and lots of wine late into the night to give THE MALCONTENT a proper send-off into Antaeus history. Then, one by one, we left the theater as we had arrived: lethargic and depressed.

Photo: Karianne Flaathen

The post-show slump is an inevitable consequence of a career in theater; the next few weeks for many of us will be punctuated by irritability, manic energy, intensely anti-social and ultra-social behavior, and ridiculously large tantrums over ridiculously small things as we struggle to re-adjust to a life without the play. Luckily, many of us have Classicsfest looming on the horizon to keep us from going utterly insane, but that does not completely mask the fact that THE MALCONTENT is over and done. As you can no doubt tell, I’m intensely proud to have been a part of this play. It was no small feat to bring this show to life and could only ever have been so well accomplished by the best and brightest creative minds in town. I count myself extremely lucky to have worked among them. We were blessed with a patient yet firm director, a deliciously lavish and innovative design team, a brilliant and indispensable backstage crew, and a crowd of some of the most intelligent, talented, and all-around fun actors one could ever possibly find. What a pity and a joy that theater is a timeless but temporary art form; though the message of the play itself and the memory of having performed it is untouchable by time, the performing of it must and has come to an end. Though we are not saying ‘goodbye’ to each other, the sad truth is that we must say goodbye to these words and the characters who said them.

Then again, they can say ‘goodbye’ to us, too:

“Farewell. Lean thoughtfulness, a sallow meditation, suck thy veins dry! Distemperance rob thy sleep! The heart’s disquiet is revenge most deep.” — Malevole/Altofront, played by JD Cullum and Bo Foxworth, Act I Scene 3

“Thou shalt see instantly what spirit my temper holds. Farewell; Remember, I forget thee not; farewell.” — Pietro, played by Bill Brochtrup, Mark Doerr, and Geoffrey Wade, Act I Scene 3

“I shall now leave you with my always best wishes; only let’s hold betwixt us a firm correspondence, a mutual-friendly-reciprocal kind of steady-unanimous-heartily leagued…” — Bilioso, played by John Achorn and Paul Willson, Act I Scene 4

“I take my leave, sweet lord.” — Celso, played by Christopher Guilmet and Joe Holt, Act I Scene 4

“So soon? ‘Tis wonder…” — Equato, played by Christopher Parsons and Buck Zachary, Act IV, Scene 2

“Good night, sentinel.” — Emilia, played by Joanna Strapp and Abby Wilde, Act II Scene 4

“‘Night, dear Maquerelle.” — Bianca, played by Blythe Auffarth and Marisol Ramirez, Act II Scene 4

“Good rest, most prosperously-graced ladies. May my posset’s operation send you my wit honesty, and me your youth and beauty; the pleasingest rest.” — Maquerelle, played by Saundra McClain and Lynn Milgrim, Act II Scene 4

“Sleep, sleep, whilst we contrive our mischief’s birth… Farewell, to bed. Ay, kiss thy pillow, dream…” — Mendoza, played by Ramon deOcampo and Adrian LaTourelle, Act II Scene 5

“Faith, my lord, I did but dream. And dreams, you say, prove not always true.” — Prepasso, played by Joe Fuhr and Jason Thomas, Act III, Scene 4

“His love is lifeless that for love fears breath; the worst that’s due to sin, O, would ’twere death!” — Ferneze, played by Alex Knox and Adam Meyer, Act I Scene 6

“O joy, triumph in my just grief; death is the end of woes and tears’ relief…Joy to thy ghost, sweet lord, pardon to me.” — Aurelia, played by Laura Wernette and Jules Willcox, Act IV Scene 5

“Would your grief would as soon leave you as we to quietness.” — Ferrardo, played by John Allee and Jim Kane, Act III, Scene 4

“I’ll mourn no more; come, girt my brows with flowers; revel and dance, soul, now thy wish thou hast!” — Maria, played by Ann Noble and Devon Sorvari, Act V Scene 5

“And as for me, I here assume my right, to the which I hope all’s pleased. To all, good night.” — Malevole/Altofront, played by JD Cullum and Bo Foxworth, Act 5 Scene 5

End of play.

Abby takes her bow. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, shares her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent. This is the final installment.

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. ah, how wise for your tender years are you…Kathleen of the Allee’s

    • …thou…


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s