(Tickets are still available for the May 11th premier. Get ’em while they last!)
I recall what a Chinese centenarian once told someone in her final days. Did she have any regrets, she was asked? “I wish I’d made more mistakes,” she said. Or so the story goes.
Perhaps the story’s apocryphal. Nevertheless, it’s been resonating with me, as I’ve given performances in front of friends, and friends of friends, in several different cities, to gather data that will help me revise my script and give better performances. It’s all much more of an art than the QA (Quality Assurance) process I’m used to in the software companies at which I’ve worked. Art is so subjective (d’uh!), and an intensely personal show such as mine will impact different people differently. While I’m performing I try to track audience reaction in real-time (are there laughs where I expect them? Is everyone looking at me? Am I sensing that I have everyone’s attention?) Then there’s a post-show Q&A where I can get specific and detailed reactions. If there’s any consensus, or if any of it jibes with my “sense” of how things went, then I work with my director, my acting coach, and my fellow solo performers to try to interpret what’s going on (a darker art) and then revise it. Do I need to change the way I perform a certain passage? Do I need to shorten a scene, clarify an action, deepen an emotion?
It’s a humbling experience. I’ve done the best I could for my audiences thus far. But they have returned to me so much more. How amazing and gratifying it has been for so many wonderful people to have taken the time to notice what I was doing and then make the effort to come out and support me. What a gift.
I can’t imagine a more gratifying experience. Lord knows, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in these performances, and several orders of magnitude more of them along the multi-year journey that immediately preceded these shows. But I’ve learned so much from those mistakes, I’m kind of wishing I’d made more of them.
The good news is, every day brings new opportunities to screw up. No doubt I’ll continue to take advantage of them.
I hope you’ll come to see the fruits of my — our — labor. I promise — the experience will not disappoint you.