When Actor and Audience Find Themselves in a Show
Our newest show, Laughter Is Sacred Space, sold out its premier shows in Harrisonburg on Sept 14 and 15. Of course, like most premiers, there was anxiety. But when it’s an original work there are questions you don’t find with other shows, mostly around the script—is it sharp enough? Is it too long? Does it tell the story honestly and truthfully without diverting and confusing detours?
My experience over the years with playwriting is to overload the writing portion, tweak until the last minute and then allow experience and intimate knowledge of the material to guide the acting portion of the show. During rehearsal and performance — there nestled in the back of my mind — is always the writer’s voice. Assessing the beat, the line, the scene.
It has been satisfying to see people respond to the show. There is laughter and tears; the best moments are when audience members find themselves in the moments of grief or loss, as well as moments of resolve.
What actors and writers want to hear mostly is– thank you. We never get tired of praise, indeed without a certain amount of it, it might be impossible to get back up onstage and expose yourself once again. When a thank is rooted in the speakers heart, it reaffirms the notion actors and writers are grasping for something greater than themselves, something pointing beyond the words on the page, the lines delivered on stage.
As one woman responded after a Laughter show, “Thank you for opening up your experience, your questions, your journey in theater to us. It brought healing to me, and I am sure to many others. Damn that I didn’t bring tissues as the director suggested in the playbill! (I laughed a lot during it, too.) I am glad to see where you and your team are taking theater.”
This show is the most personal of any I have ever written, and will perhaps ever write again, and it is profoundly moving and healing to laugh, cry and feel together with audiences to this point.