Fade to Black begins this week, the first of my final shows at drama school. We start the run tomorrow, three shows a day until Saturday. Three shows a day playing a man who has just lost his wife in a car crash just two weeks before, who is staying in the hotel where they first spent a night together and it's their wedding anniversary. Cheerful it ain't...
It's emotionally draining to be honest. Fiona (who plays my wife and is present in the room as a ghost. See Truly Madly Deeply but gender reversed) and I spend most of it in tears or on the verge of breaking down and it provides a real challenge to an actor to maintain that kind of emotional intensity without it becoming a draining, emotive pathos-blackhole for the audience. Or emotional fascism as one tutor beautifully put it.
You have to question yourself as an actor and ask whether it is possible to reach the required level of emotional intensity again and again, the director is trying not to over work our emotional triggers, hence no rehearsal today but eventually thinking about your dad dying or Marie being murdered only goes so far.
I was discussing the problem with another actor last week over a few beers and they made an astute observation. In theatre, crying is a middle class thing, a self-indulgent act by those in touch enough with their feelings to reach the desired state of distress. Working class people cry alright but it has an emptiness about it due to being worn out with crying and also why cry when you can get angry. Wild generalisations I know but there is a grain of truth in it.
Fade to Black is very middle class.
But still, it has some wonderful writing in it and the audience are in for a depressing but beautiful theatrical experience that they won't forget quickly.