Last night I ended my three show run of CHOP at Nouveau 47 Theatre in Dallas' historic Fair Park. The audiences ranged from medium to small, but I got some really positive feedback. I had several memorable moments performing the piece here in Dallas...
• The cupcakes I used were too big, too messy and they literally exploded when I smashed them in the show. The icing dyed my hands for the remainder of the performance. And that moment happens relatively early in the piece. Will definitely NOT be taking these particular cupcakes to NYC.
• I blanked out during the second show. I mean a literal "actor's nightmare" moment where I did not know where I was or what I was supposed to say next. It only lasted maybe three seconds and I jumped right back in, but it scared me. In the maybe 40 times I've performed the piece so far, that has never happened to me. It was a great reminder to NEVER ever get comfortable with the piece. Solo performance demands respect from the performer. Gotta always bring my A-game, every single time. CHOP definitely keeps me on my toes.
• The piece is good. I observed it over and over again: the audience sits blank faced through the first minute or two and then, one by one they key in. And then they stay keyed in. I had a couple of audience members cry and another I watched as his facial expressions changed throughout the show, silently mouthing little responses to my story, like "No..." and ""What?" That's the kind of engagement I work to create. The audience comes on the journey with me. It was nice to see this, especially before I take the show to two major festivals. It still has power. It is still a worthwhile piece. I sometimes forget this, as I am in the eye of the storm, setting up the logistics of the productions and then swooping in to perform it.
• I really appreciated showing it in Dallas. Many people I hoped would come see it didn't, but some did and I'm extremely grateful for it. I have lived with CHOP for the past 5 years (if you include the writing and development of it, as well as the multiple performances around the country) and in that time,I have shown it only four times in the Dallas area before this past weekend. It premiered for three shows at Addison's Water Tower Theatre as part of the Out of the Loop Festival in a very early form (which, ironically, is the run that was most reviewed). My folks came to that. And some of my best friends. But it has come such a long ways since then. It's like a different show. The only other time I did it in Dallas was a one-night deal at an art gallery in the lobby of some loft apartments. It was very echoy there and I only had five people in the audience. And that was way back in 2010. This show is my unrestrained, idiosyncratic idea of how I approach theatre... from the content to the style of performance to the design and even running time. It makes the piece very personal. I am very proud to have my name on it, as imperfectly perfect as it is. And I'm proud to show it to people. Especially the hometown crowd. And as an added bonus, I can say I performed the piece at the historic Magnolia Lounge, the place where the Regional Theatre Movement was born in 1947, willed into existence by the tenacious Margo Jones.
Special thanks to my beautiful wife Ruth for running the tech for me and to the folks at Nouveau 47 Theatre for having me over to play.