On Friday I did wend my merry way to the University of Essex to perform The Summoning of Everyman for some first years. This is the second time I've done this and was a great way for me to tryout the show before the tour starts in earnest. Here is a video of my time there...
"Really interesting and clever take on this play, that I first had hated!" *
[*All quotes are feedback from the students after the performances.]
I performed the show twice and generally talked about the play between times, so it was a full on few hours. It was useful in two ways.
1. I remembered how to work the show, because it's all about contact with the audience and that's really hard to rehearse in advance.
2. I could test out some of my newer ideas about staging. Some of which worked, some didn't.
"Intense and insightful, a true reckoning."
"Really creative production that makes difficult language incredibly accessible."
"I loved the audience participation!"
"I understand it better."
I didn't use any music to open the show - though I plan there to be something for when I start the show on tour. The event lives and dies on the atmosphere and the commitment of the audience. What I do with them and the text then becomes greater than the sum of their parts.
"Perhaps a little more physicality would make it more visual."
I'm caught in a double bind regarding physicality with this show. If I do too much then I'm spinning on a sixpence, jumping from one attitude to another like a nervous tick. I didn't get the balance right for these performances, and that's where I'm focusing work over the next few days. Not bigger, but clearer. And I need to clearly plot my eye contact, I got a bit lazy in some places.
All in all, it was a good first stab at the show - on Thursday I'm doing a home performance of the play - and I'm looking forward to seeing what new things happen then. Full details will follow. But for now - here are all the Good and Bad Deeds I collected on Friday from the students. Mostly they are generic things - I didn't make it clear that I wanted something specific from their lives - but some are telling.
Hurting others / Hurting or hunting (not quite clear)
Adultery / Committing Adultery
Murder / Killing
Stealing x2 / Theft
Drinking in excess
Laughing at others / Making others feel bad
Quarreling without purpose
Ignorance to those around you
I have consumed illegal substances (a student? really?)
Frord (sic - presumably Fraud. Bless.)
Caring for - someone who is unwell / others
Being kind to others
Love thy neighbour / loving the people around you
Charity / Sharing what you have / Helping others in need / Helping others / Helping someone out financially / To help those less fortunate than yourself
Give money to a homeless man / Helping the homeless / Giving money to the homeless
Being there for someone
Thy to help others and focus less on your "self needs" / I have put others before myself / Selflessness
Embracing a persons imperfections
Making someone / making other people / making people - smile : ) / Cheering up a friend
Helping a person with the stairs