Opening night in Ottawa

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Friday, September 21, 2007

(My brain is fried. It’s actually early Sunday evening and I am completely exhausted. But I’m trying to get my brownie badge in journal writing, so… onward.) 

Our opening day in Ottawa began with a four hour rehearsal call, after a morning in the garden at my brother’s. It was a tough call. People are so tired of rehearsing. Not that we’ve had the time to do cleaning rehearsals, but doing the technical “put-in” rehearsals in Newcastle and Ottawa have both been long calls contributing to long weeks of work. But… even though there was resistance, it was invaluable to make these little niggly adjustments to a few technical elements, and to clean up music and dance numbers. God is in the details.  I may sound annoyingly gung-ho, but I was really happy to have the work done, and felt very confident going into the opening night performance here at the NAC.

We were a bit tight. It’s so funny, but as soon as the performance begins you can feel the relationship with the audience, and how easy or difficult the story-telling is going to be. And we all know that it is very rare that an opening night audience will be the easy kind. But the great thing is that we have already had a full range of audiences come to see this play, and the story-telling is so solid now that our little tightnesses and nerves are not really evident to those watching. Ultimately… they got to their feet at the end. And that tells the tale.

Our opening reception was in Le Cafe at the NAC. And the joint was jumpin’, and packed to the rafters. It was a struggle for me to find my family let alone see who else was in the place. And before what Penny calls “the bun fight” could really begin, there were speeches: Peter Herndorf, the CEO of the National Arts Centre, Anthony Cary, the British High Commissioner, Deborah Shaw, the Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peter Hinton, the Artistic Director of English Theatre at the NAC, and Margaret Atwood… well, we all know who she is: the Queen of Canadian Literature. There was a lot of clapping, and gratitude to funding bodies like the British and Canada Councils, and individual donors, and loads of praise for the collaborative creative process between these two companies and these two countries. It was a bit like that part of the wedding where you’re longing to get to the bar and refresh your drink before the dancing begins, but we all survived. 

And then there were lots of faces in the crowd: Jian Ghomeshi, R.H. Thompson, Martha Burns, Brian Quirt, Naomi Campbell, Leah Cherniak, Susan Coyne, John Van Burek, Meno Plucker, along with Kelly’s parents, Mama Cox, my family, Pippa’s mom, Jenny’s friends, Pam’s sister. Only Corrine had no family there. But we love her enough to be family for a night, I hope! There were tons more, but honestly, it was so crowded and very warm that it was tough to know who was there (so sorry if I missed your name!). 

Dancing ensued, and there were goodbyes to our wonderful RSC crew, who have to head home now that the show is safely in the hands of the NAC crew. So love, gratitude and goodbye to Marion, Fiona, Lisa, Anna, and Becky (you’ll note even the crew is all women!). And an enormous thank you to Charmion who leaves on Sunday. 

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