The performance first weekend of The Little College on a Hill is over. And a successful 2 performances they were. The entire cast was on a high Friday night as the hard work of the past 6 weeks came to fruition. The audience was of respectable size although there was plenty of empty space in CSUDH's 450 seat University Theatre. Because the play was written about the history of California State University, Dominguez Hills, a number of local dignitaries and old friends were present in the audience. A special treat for me was the presence of playwright Jose Cruz Gonzalez in whose Harvest Moon I appeared in 1996 under the direction of Bill DeLuca. That was my first experience performing in a bilingual production.
The Saturday night performance seemed to follow a pattern I have experienced in theater where the 2nd performance of a run usually experiences some strange happenings. In Little College there is a scene built around a campus demonstration and rally. The entire cast is on stage and virtually every character has something to say about some "wrong" of society or politics that affects the university and its students. The rally is punctuated by cheers of "Hear Our Voices!." At one point early in the rally, there was a long silence. One of the actresses, sensing that someone forgot a line, kept the rally going with her lines which in this case, came near the end of the scene. The one or 2 who normally followed her did so AND THEN SOMEHOW the scene circled back to include all the lines and actors that had been missed with the actor who closed the scene picking up his line when everyone had their say, albeit in an order other than was written and rehearsed. It was one of those wondrous moments that I love in live theatre when the audience has absolutely no idea that the scene is going on other than scripted. In this case it was a marvelous ensemble scene where the entire cast contributed to a successful outcome.
The other, gaffe, if you will comes at the end of the play when one major character (Keven, played by Jerron Mitchell) completes his dream scene and has to exit the stage and theatre, race around the building, up the steps, come through the theatre entrance and down the steps to the stage announcing his arrival to his colleagues (Eli played by James Knudsen and Correy, played by Ingrid Interiano) who are waiting to show a video which he is carrying with him. Unfortunately, the outside entrance was locked when he arrived. James and Ingrid did a marvelous job of adlibbing the anticipated arrival while Jerron raced back down the steps, around the building, through the stage door and entered from stage right making it possible for the final scene of the play to be completed.
Yes, every performance in live theatre is different from the night before and the ability to get through those glitches without the audience having a clue about the problems. In film and TV, they can reshoot and edit scenes; in live theatre they go one, sometimes in unexpected and wondrous directions.
So, the 1st weekend is completed. We will have a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday to run through our lines and then complete the run with performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's sort of nice to be in a production that runs only 2 weeks but it sometimes seems like an awful lot of work to prepare for just 5 performances rather than the more usual 6-8 week (12-30) performance run.