Just got back from my first ever “open Shakespeare mic” night in Salem, Mass (thanks to Keri from Rebel Shakespeare for letting me know about it, and thanks to my lovely wife for securing us a babysitter and actually sitting through it with me!)
What fun! At first it was awkward trying to figure out what the deal was – where to sit, how do you get food and/or a drink, etc… but eventually we answered all three, and could sit back and enjoy the performance. I was pleased that I recognized almost everything, and even caught the occasional mistake :). That’s not to say by any means that I have the memory for that kind of thing – most of the performers read from script, and I suspect I’d have to do the same thing. That is, if I had the guts to get up there and do it :).
What fascinated me most, I think, was the variety. I walk into situations like that with the assumption that everybody knows everybody else and has done this 100 times. But what I saw were people reading directly from script (and getting it wrong), people comfortably off book (but still needing the occasional cue), and confident professionals who looked like they’d done their particular parts 100 times. I saw kids as young as maybe 10 not only getting into their roles, but saying things like “I couldn’t decide which monologue to do so bear with me while I do both.” I saw a man with a prosthetic leg remove it so he could do Richard III, and another elderly gentleman do a simple performance of several sonnets that sounded like he might have dedicated them to his long lost love.
I tell myself that some day I’ll get up and do something. Of course, I’m 40 years old (next week) and the closest I’ve ever been to performing is getting dragged up on stage for the HAIR finale in Baltimore.
I wonder if there’s more such events like that, or if this was a special birthday-only thing. I could see myself hanging out at such events.