My first performance in Portsmouth went very well. But let me backtrack a little:
My circus ring fits in my car!!!
I wasn’t sure if my 16foot circus ring (8 1ft x 1ft pieces) would fit in my van or not. As it turns out, it does when you remove the backseats– this is excellent news, because it means that every show I do fits in my van. The ring was built in 1992 by George Marcincavage, a Rhode Island actor/carpenter and founder of Alias Stage (now the Feinstein Gamm Theatre. ) I think George is now an architect in New Jersey. He did a genius job of building the ring–it’s sturdy and beautiful. The only downside is that it doesn’t fold inside itself (but if it did, it wouldn’t be as sturdy as it is)
When I had the circus ring built, it was supposed to fit in my Isuzu Trooper– but it never did, and so I didn’t tour that much with it (or when I did, I rented a truck, or brought it in two separate trips) I now have a Honda Odyssey, and I love it to pieces. And the fact that my circus ring fits in it is the icing on the cake.
So I got up to Porstmouth NH on Thursday night after a lot of Boston traffic, and was able to load in to the theatre. The Theatre is a great small space that is shared by two Portsmouth companies– Pontine Movement Theatre (the company that is hosting me) and the New Hampshire Theatre Project The two companies split the cost of the theatre, which provides rehearsal, performance and office space for them both. They split weekends during the summer for performance, and so they’ve always got something going on there. It’s really a great setup.
Pontine has done a terrific job of doing publicity– I’m in most of the papers and the show has a large picture of my tattoo to the left in one of the “Best of the Week” sections . I’ll have to get a copy of that and scan it in (most of my publicity is about the flea circus, so it’s good to have something about this other show.
I spent Friday during the day teching in and rehearsing. This is a show I haven’t done in five years, and although I’ve been looking at the script, my memory as an actor is physical– what am I doing in the space, where am I, where is the audience, etc. My show doesn’t have a lot of tech, but I like to use what they have, and since they’ve got a full theatre, I’m adapting the tech to what they have. In a theatre where the lights only go on and off, that’s what I use. In a theatre where they have a full setup, I use that. There were some minor snafus– in recording the music to CD, I had inputted a couple of songs incorrectly, so I redid the CD on the fly, and then spent time memorizing my lines and buying props I forgot to bring (Hello, new clown umbrella!)
I had brought my makeup, but wasn’t sure if I was going to use it, and then decided that I would. I hadn’t put my makeup on in close to five years. Most of the time as a clown, I’ve been using just a nose and my oh so expressive face. But this show, which is about being too much of a clown, needed to go over the top with the clown makeup. Considering, the lines and look were very good. Not bad for the guy at clown college who was nicknamed Smudgo!
The show went very well. I did everything in the order that I wrote it, the tech come off beautifully, the obligatory avante garde dance piece came off great, and the ending of the show (where I quit clowning cold turkey and join the audience, and invite an audience member to come on stage and perform for us the audience) was great. At first nobody wanted to go, and then finally, a guy agreed to come up and … display his mustache. He had a very thick Walrus Mustache, and he displayed it. I announced John and his Mysterious Moustache of Delight, and he got a standing ovation (with my prompting from the audience, and that delighted me enough to going back to being a clown (and finishing my show)
This part of the show, which is always an improvisation, is fun and scary, and wonderful. I’m hoping that today’s two shows and tomorrow’s will come off equally well (Tomorrow’s Sunday show is nearly sold out– last night’s was about 2/3 full.) It’s only 47 seats, but still, it feels really good to entertain people and have them enjoy it. One could almost get… addicted to it!
If you are in the Portsmouth area, stop on by!