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.

Unmasking The Malcontent: v. XIV

“Now, by my troth, beauties, I would ha’ ye once wise…” Maquerelle, The Malcontent, Act IV Scene 1

The Antaeus Company does not limit itself merely to staging works of classical drama ranging from Noel Coward to John Marston to Tennessee Williams to Jeffrey Hatcher (although, we do in fact do all those things. Very, very well). The other side of the Antaeus mission statement discusses its devotion to furthering education in the classics, and in my experience with the company, this has meant the education of the next generation of classical theater actors. But Antaeus is also active in classrooms all over the county, and last week, we were paid a visit by a class from North Hollywood High School.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I loved performing for the students — the main reason being that it was really fairly recently that I would have been in that kind of field trip, so I have a special big-kid sort of glee performing for one. More than that, high school students are fun to perform for because you do not expect them to be judging the acting, direction, and technical aspects of the show against every other production this season; so it’s easy to let go of your paranoia and simply tell the story. After the show, the cast changed out of costume and came down to the edge of the stage for a Q and A with the students. We talked to them about the rehearsal process, the weeks of table-work, how the double-casting worked, how acting in a Marston play differs from a day on a TV set. Then we asked if, for any of them, it was a first time seeing live theater; of the two who raised a hand, one gave us a beautiful summation of her thoughts.

She told us that she understood why more people didn’t want to go to the theatre; she told us that she had been afraid she wouldn’t understand what was going on and was fully prepared to simply pretend that she did (and this was before she knew it was a 400 year old play; “then I really knew ‘ok, I’m so not going to understand what’s going on.'”). But she went on to say that she not only understood everything she saw, but that she was fascinated to see how “people 400 years ago were doing the same stuff that people are doing now: the way men use women, the way that love so easily turns into lust, the way power corrupts…” are still things that she sees people dealing with, and that’s why theater is important; because if people saw that they were in the same mess today as they were 400 years ago, maybe they’d stop doing it.

It just doesn’t get any better than that. We gave her an ovation.

***

Abby Wilde (far r) with the "BECCOS" cast of The Malcontent. Photo: Karianne Flaathen

And now, here we are: the home stretch, the last inning, the sports metaphor that properly expresses how it feels to approach the last performance of The Malcontent. I face the end with sadness and satisfaction; I think we have thus far acquitted ourselves with dignity and style on the stage, and unceasing shenanigans and tomfoolery off it, both of which I will miss dearly. But it’s not an utter goodbye; so many of us are either Company members or Company member-adjacent that we’re nearly all re-uniting one way or another through Classicsfest 2011. For some of us, it’s Aphra Behn’s The Lucky Chance, a reading which will be directed by the one-and-only Liz Swain (although personally, I think she should stop picking such popular, everyday plays and go for something a little more obscure). Others of us are joining the ranks of Macbeth, directed by Jessica Kubzansky. (There are countless others; I only mention these two because I happen to be in both of them and dreadfully excited at that.) But while the cast may continue on in one iteration or another, it will not be The Malcontent. The corsets, bum-rolls, tights, petticoats, and towering wigs have been shipped home where they belong and the words of the play will sink back into the silence of the Antaeus Library.

 

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

Unmasking The Malcontent: v. XIII

“Speak low; pale fears suspect that hedges, walls, and trees have ears.”

Malevole, THE MALCONTENT, Act III Scene 3

The set for The Malcontent was built in imitation of the Blackfriars’ Theater where the play was first produced in 1604; in light of that, our stage is dressed with heavy wood paneling, richly brocaded curtains, and ten seats on stage divided into boxes on either side. I feel confident in saying that never have seats caused more contention in Antaeus history. It seems that people have a general hesitance to enjoy the play from what they perceive as the interrogative glare of the stage lights, seated in the midst of the action 50 other people are watching from the comparative safety and anonymity of the house.

Mark Doerr and his captivated audience. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

This is not to say that all of our audience feels this way; many who show doubts about their seating arrangement at the top of the show have grown to love it by intermission, and returning audience members have often asked to be seated in the “splash zone” their second time around. But though it is a small faction that opts out of the spotlight, it is a powerful one; as a cast, it’s hard not to feel just a little abandoned when the stage manager comes backstage at intermission to let us know that the boxes will be somewhat emptier in Act 2 as a group seated there has asked to be relocated.

I think I get it; the box seats put you on the wrong side of the fourth wall, in grave danger of the sudden assault of Audience Participation (capitalization mine). If you’ve come to the theater for a polite evening of serious classical drama*, you may have absolutely no interest in being led in some sort of audience-wide call-and-response, or being singled out to stand onstage and speak lines yourself, or in any way being made to look ridiculous amongst the other theater-going folk. I can absolutely understand that, and I have good news: we don’t do anything like that to our audience. There is no Audience Participation portion to our show. In that respect, be assured that the seats onstage are completely safe. They are not, however, safe from audience participation in the lowercase sense, anymore than any other seat in the whole house would be.

JD Cullum offers shoe to audience members. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

The style of playwriting that The Malcontent comes out of is that of rhetoric. There is hardly a speech in this play in which the speaker is not actively trying to change someone’s mind or win someone to his side; sometimes it’s just another character onstage, but almost always it is the audience. Why is this? Because the audience is the one character in the play that never exits, and so has a stake in every moment of the action. The audience is the one character in the play who never speaks, and so the speaker can lay bare his most private thoughts without interruption. The audience is the one character who hears all of the villain’s deepest schemes as well as all of the hero’s highest hopes, and so when the play is over, the audience will be the only voice of reputation to leave the theater after and to tell others who was right and who wrong, who lost and who won. Characters in plays of this style speak to the audience with a powerful need for assistance, or understanding, or absolution, or all of the above, because the audience is the best (and sometimes, only) listener the play will afford them. Through the course of the play, the audience is the dearest friend, the coldest judge, and the most impartial ear.

So don’t let the box seats frighten you if that’s where you find yourself this weekend; the characters in this play need to be heard, hated, loved, forgiven, condemned, admired, despised by someone, and they need it at every possible minute — and as such they need the audience close at hand, all around them. When you are seated onstage, it is for no other reason than because the characters need you there to hear them out. That’s why we love to see you there, and why we hate to see you go.

*The Malcontent is most assuredly not a “polite evening of serious classical drama.” Reviews have described it as wildly funny, bawdy, Pythonesque, biting, rollicking, suprisingly contemporary, and a Jacobean poetry slam; but I digress.

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

Unmasking The Malcontent: v. XII

“How fortune dotes on impudence! I am in private the adopted son of yon good prince. I must be duke. Why, if I must, I must.” — Mendoza, THE MALCONTENT, Act II, Scene V.

This week, we say goodbye to the brilliant, handsome, witty, and wonderful Bill Brochtrup (on many occasions he has asked me if he is any of these things; I can assure you with utter certitude that he is all of them and more); he had his final performance with the Cuckold cast this past Sunday. This leaves us with one Duke Pietro (Mark Doerr, also brilliant, handsome, witty and wonderful in his own delightful way) doing the work of two. 


Bill Brochtrup (R), with Marisol Ramirez and Jules Willcox. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

Mark is not the first of us to find himself so suddenly in demand; during Previews week, Ann Noble was called upon to play Maria for each and every performance, as Devon Sorvari was out of town changing her name to Devon Brand (and getting married; that part’s sort of a big deal, too). Furthermore, Lynn Milgrim is currently pulling double shifts as Maquerelle while Saundra McClain is out of town directing “The Fantasticks” at the Ensemble Theater Company of Santa Barbara. (“The Fantasticks” opens this weekend; next week, Saundra returns to her bi-weekly playdate with us.) This sudden plummeting of the Pietro population is very different, however; Devon’s wedding and Saundra’s production were known entities since before day one, so the cast and schedule could be constructed with those in mind. Losing Bill has been a surprise for us all, however, and leaves a scheduling void the remaining Pietro cannot fill. 

 

Geoffrey Wade is our new Pietro!

Enter Geoffrey Wade, a very, very brave man. He will take part in one speed-through this week and two put-in rehearsals next week, and then, next Friday night, he takes the stage after virtually 8 hours of rehearsal. (I say “virtually” as Geoff happened to be present at our dress rehearsal and previews in his alternate capacity as official photographer — you may have noticed that all the pictures he takes are gorgeous — and so has, I’m sure, absorbed a bit of the play through proximity and osmosis). The stakes are indeed high, but I have the utmost faith in him.


For as long as I’ve been hanging around Antaeus, I have known Geoffrey Wade: he was present at my very first Classical Styles class session, has attended virtually every Antaeus project I’ve been involved with since, and has always been an active advocate of the Academy programs and the A2 Company. His general mensch-iness aside, he is also a versatile and fascinating actor; his resume spans from the National Tour of “Crazy For You” to “Six Degrees of Separation” with the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, to Lou Pepe’s 2010 production of “Orpheus Descending” here in Los Angeles, to an eerily picture-perfect portrayal as “Lincoln” at the Lincoln Amphitheater in Indiana. The man is very, very good. More than that, this is not his first time taking the wheel for us halfway through the race. Last season at Antaeus, he took on the role of General Griggs in the midst of “The Autumn Garden,” and he finished it’s run with grace and style. So much confidence do we have in Geoffrey Wade that someone in the cast (I can’t recall who, so I’m just going to pretend it was me) has granted him an intimidating nickname of his very own: “The Closer.” 

Geoffrey “The Closer” Wade makes his debut in THE MALCONTENT June 10th, a Becco performance featuring Bo “Bolevole” Foxworth in the title role and Adrian LaTourelle as Mendoza (and if you needed one more thing to convince you, the evening of June 10th will also feature copious amounts of me). 

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

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

Unmasking The Malcontent: v. X

“But for our souls, they are as free as emperors; there goes but a pair of shears betwixt an emperor and the son of a bagpiper; only the dyeing, dressing, pressing, glossing makes the difference. ” — Malevole, THE MALCONTENT, Act IV, Scene 5

Lynn Milgrim and Marisol Ramirez. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

At the pick-up rehearsal before the first Becco performance last week, Ann Noble (who plays Maria in the Cuckolds cast) told me she was irrationally nervous all morning: “But then I got here, and realized ‘Oh! It’s all my friends from tech. Cool.'” It’s true; we’re not all that intimidating once you get to know us.

It’s also true that, in spite of completing the entire rehearsal process as one unit, the two casts of THE MALCONTENT have been as two ships passing in the night ever since tech week; even watching the other cast at previews every night, the fourth wall stood firm between us (though, if you’ve seen the show, you know I use the term ‘fourth wall’ broadly.) It’s hard not to get competitive about it, either; we’ve already discovered that one cast is already faster, one cast has a darker interpretation of the play, and that it’s very difficult not to feel a twinge of betrayal when you learn a friend has chosen to attend the other cast’s performance and not yet yours. In spite of the competition, though, there’s simply no way not to miss your friends from tech; artfully assorted though the two casts are, we’ve all had to give up certain character relationships and bits of schtick in the separation. Thank god for Becco casting.

Ann Noble and Adrian LaTourelle. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

Every Thursday and Friday, the Becco cast for that evening is called for a pick-up rehearsal; this has always been the practice in all Antaeus productions to compensate for the week-long hiatus, but it’s even more pressing for us in that we need the extra time to negotiate the Wittol-Cuckold disparities. We speed through our blocking and dialogue, interrupting ourselves occasionally to confer (“Oh, you go there now…” “Yes, but I can stay over here.” “No, actually, I love that. Keep it. Where were we?”), and in such a start-and-top fashion cobble together the choicest bits from either group. For the most part, the blocking isn’t what’s terribly different, but the timing and intention. As, for example, Saundra McClain and Lynn Milgrim both play the role of Maquerelle, and though for the most part their traffic pattern remains the same, they’re so different as actors, that their rhythms and speech patterns give completely different flavors to their performances. Saundra and I are both Wittols, and as such I am most accustomed to her delivery; hearing the way Lynn says the same speech is like hearing a new scene altogether.

The wonderful thing about Beccos performances is that they perpetuate the atrocious acts of theater theft we thought we’d left behind in rehearsal; the stuff we bring back from the Beccos to our own casts (coupled with the fact that even on a Wittol or Cuckold night, someone has jumped the fence for the night for one reason or another; it’s nearly impossible to see a pure incarnation of the Wittol or Cuckold cast) make every night new, unpredictable, and slightly dangerous. But altogether, my favorite feature of the Beccos cast is resurrecting all those stage-relationships left behind, and finding them even more fun than we remembered them.

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

Unmasking The Malcontent: v. IX

“Now, good Elysium, what a delicious heaven is it for a man to be in a prince’s favour! O sweet God! O pleasure! O Fortune! O all thou best of life!”

Mendoza, THE MALCONTENT, Act I Scene 5

Mark Doerr and Adrian LaTourelle. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

It’s not every theater company that faces the ordeal of opening night more than once; Antaeus is charged with that challenge all of four times (unless you count previews, in which case I’d call it a grand total of six). It’s been my experience that near the beginning of the production process, actors always seem not only to be ambivalent about opening nights, but ambivalent with a ferocious passion; they both long for and dread opening night with an all-encompassing intensity and complete simultaneity. Over the course of the rehearsal period, that balance shifts back and forth swiftly and violently until it finally settles somewhere for each particular actor sometime during previews.

In general, I think I can say that we did not settle in the side of dread. In spite of varying levels of stress tempered with exhaustion brought on by the rehearse-act-rehearse-watch-repeat schedule, I can only think of two out of the 28 actors who may have seriously doubted whether the show was any good (those two actors of course were leads, and we all know the emotions of lead actors the week before showtime are subject to no law found in nature. They are rarely to be trusted as barometers of theatrical fitness, at any rate.) By the time previews were through, the majority of us knew the show was ready to open however many times it took.

Each cast was allotted two openings: one for friends and family, and one gala benefit for company, board members, and donors. The friends and family events were catered in true Antaeus fashion by the brilliantly clever Ms. Abby Gail Palanker and an elite squadron selected from whichever cast was NOT performing that night. It was already surreal to be at the theater at show time without watching or performing in the play; a whole new level of oddity came from sitting in the Deaf West office chiffonade-ing basil and skewering mozzarella throughout the whole thing. The galas were thrown by the Chairman of the Board and his wife, the darling and lovely Kiki and David Gindler — catered this time by a platoon of black-suited and eerily quiet waitstaff, lurking in the shadows to offer excellent wine and food to any unsuspecting guest wandering too near. It was everything a girl could want from a gala; delicious, festive, an excuse to wear a pretty dress, and attended by excellent company; amongst this last category, members of the press.

Bo Foxworth and Bill Brochtrup. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

I’ve been advised on many occasions never to read reviews of a play I’m in until after it closes, and I understand this warning — but I just can’t help myself. Not only are the reviews quickly coming in, but they’re glowing. We’re a hit! Our 400-year-old, rarely performed piece of Jacobean court satire is a hit! All this time, we’ve been trembling in our boots that no one was going to understand this play (Marston’s language makes Shakespeare look like Dr. Seuss), and now, not only is the play understandable, but they LIKE us! Listen to this:

“Elizabeth Swain takes the helm, panning through the impenetrable-on-the-page language to ensure all the actors—and the audience—understand every word and enjoy them. She creates a world simultaneously Jacobean and modern. Her stage pictures are sumptuous tales in themselves.” –Dany Margolies, BACKSTAGE

And THIS one:

“It may have been written over 400 years ago, but this is a marvelous production of a seldom-seen classic work of theatre that despite its complex poetic language feels fresh, contemporary and accessible. Highly recommended.” –Pauline Adamek, ArtsBeatLA

I think this one might be my favorite, though:

“This is glorious theatre that must be acknowledged by increased audiences – do yourself the favor and go.” — Dale Reynolds, StageHappenings

You heard the man; he called us “glorious,” and “glorious” indeed we are. Come see us! Then come back and see the rest of us. Then bring everyone you know and see the Beccos. The box office is offering half-price tickets to every show this weekend (which you can find more about through our Facebook page or Twitter @AntaeusTheater), but I’ll tell you the same thing I’m telling everyone; tickets are going to sell out soon. We’ve only just opened, but we also only run for one more month (for now) and it’s an intimate theater, after all. Don’t miss it!

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, continues to share her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent . This is the ninth

installment. For tickets, visit www.antaeus.org