The Cycles Seem to Have a Low Point
Crash at Roulette has wrapped up. Thanks to Jim Staley et al for having us there and everyone who came out to join us over the past four nights. The physical space of Roulette was a great fit for the piece – plenty of space for Phil Makanna’s images, very favorable acoustics so Tom Hamilton could mix things just nice and add some effects to the “Crash” voice to keep things in the Ashley house style, such as it is. I think our performances took a step forward from last year as well, having the year to marinate and some extra time to practice was a big help.
I wanted to share two thoughts from the run. I don’t want to get to much into the idea of self-perception of performers and how they feel they did, but after the first night on Wednesday, I felt like we had much better in us. Thursday I felt like I was particularly sloppy. I needed something to help get my performance of the piece to where I wanted it to be. Before Friday’s show I was trying to get into the right frame of mind. After warming up & practicing, I had a blank mind and was just trying to think about images of Bob. The image that came to my mind was the image to the right, an image of Bob performing The Wolfman in the mid 60s. It started with this kind of 3rd person shot, and then I held it in my head til it morphed into a 1st person thing, seeing from inside the shades and suit & tie with the spotlight on my face, the curtains drawn in, looking out on a room with a lot of ladies with up-dos in dresses and gentleman in suits. And I thought of the feeling of making these quiet sounds that were enormously amplified, and how jarring it would have been to this classy looking audience. Picturing some number of people getting up and leaving. Many covering their ears. And to be the one responsible for it, feeling the self-doubt of maybe they’re right, and before that, feeling the self-doubt of should I even go on in the first place, or mid-stream, should I just wrap this up now. Being inside the scenario of what the hell am I doing up here, isn’t this crazy, etc, helped me find the right place of mind for Crash. There’s a lot of self-doubt mixed in with the self-confidence, and thinking about an iconic moment to choose to represent it put me in the frame of mind to do the last two shows (which I thought were just great). Much as I don’t like biopics, it was sort of a biopic vision, but ultimately it wasn’t the vision that helped me move forward, it was the projected feelings of “I’m doing something amazing” and “I’m doing something fucking insane” and their overlap that did it for me.
The second thought came to me last night. Around the time we started Act V, already an hour into the piece, I had the feeling that things were moving so quickly. I wanted to go back to the beginning and start again. I didn’t want it to be the last time I was doing my four-syllable-to-a-beat chant. This “end of the show” feeling is common of course, but I hadn’t felt it in a long time. It’s a kind of getting sentimental about the thing you’re doing while you’re doing it. And it can lead to problems of getting sloppy, having your attention split between the task at hand and the instantaneous nostalgia related to the future not-doing of the task at hand.
The more I felt this way, the more I realized (mind you this was while we were still performing) that it was kind of like a metaphor for the piece. I’ve had a lot of conversations about how Crash is awfully sad. It’s true, it is, but it’s not a tragic kind of sad. It’s an realistic kind of sad, a human kind of sad. It’s the kind of sad that comes from knowing that something has to end but recognizing the sense of loss in knowing that it won’t be around any more. There a different dimension of sadness when someone is seriously ill and on their way out compared to after they pass. To me the former is sometimes more immense and harder to deal with. Last night it felt like Crash, or our performance of it this go-round, was going to expire, and I wanted to spend all the time I could with it before that happened. Part of doing the piece is sticking to a certain timing, it’s not like a baseball game where you can play to the last out, it’s more like football or basketball where there’s a game clock. There was no flexibility, the piece played out as it always does, right on schedule. But boy, it was heavy for those last two acts for me last night, even though now I don’t feel that heaviness.