Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Opening Night

Wow! That's all I have to say. Tonight was incredible. Truly extraordinary, moving, joyous...

Earlier in the day Chris and I did some more shopping. Oy! I don't know how I'm going to get everything home, but it was worth it. I'm very excited by the purchases.

We went over to the theatre and after handing out some gifts, the entire company gathered for a traditional Shinto prayer ceremony, where a blessing is said for the theatre/production. It was very beautiful and moving and I felt honored to be included in the ceremony.

The house was basically full and I must say I was nervous. As many times as I've been through opening nights of R&J, it still is basically terrifying. I was reminded of how personal the show is for me- how much of me is in it. It represents so much of what I love about and want to achieve in the theatre: the desire for doing pieces that attempt to move an audience and that embrace theatricality. And this cast is just extraordinary. They're sooo passionate. None of them have ever done Shakespeare before, and they all just dove in head first and wrestled the play to the ground. I am so proud of how much they've grown in the show. In the sourvenir program (which is by far the most beautiful I have ever seen-- I'm bring back several copies), Ryuta Sato, who plays Juliet says in an interview, "I don't see any language barrier (with Joe). His notes come straight into my heart. I tend to feel scared when I see high walls in front of me and tend to run away from them, but I feel very comfortable with this play and am confronting the walls, saying, 'I'll overcome you!'" When I read that, (my interpreter Mariko generously translated the program into English for me) I was so moved. It's just so open and honest. That is what all four guys are like. And it shows on stage. The show just overflows with emotion and honesty. I was very nervous during the first 15 minutes as always. I was warned that the Japanese audience is very quiet, and they were at the beginning. But once we got into Juliet's entrance scene with the Nurse and Lady Capulet, there was a lot of laughter and I saw that the audience was really with the show and were following it. The silence from then on was sooo attentive-- the kind of silence you want in theatre. During act two there was a lot of crying going on in the audience. At the end of the show the applause was loud and enthusiastic. I was brought up on stage, which I've never done. I wish I had had the presence of mind to take out my camera and take a picture of the audience LOL. It was very surreal and I wish I had been a little more "present" for that moment. It's something I'm working on. I walked into the wings with the guys and after hugging each of them and doing a groug hug, we realized the audience was still applauding so I sent them out for another bow which they richly deserved. Several people asked me for my autograph as I walked into the lobby after the show which was nice. Then we had drinks and some food in the lobby. There were several toasts and a lot of pictures. I started to feel very melancholy. It was an extraordinary experience doing this show here- life changing really. And I'm going to miss the production and everyone involved with it. Everyone involved with the production was so generous and lovely and it was incredible to see that opening night audience respond as they did. I wish I could take in more of it. But off to the next job.

I really want to come back to Japan!!