Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Opening Night - These Being The Nocturnal Ramblings Of Nakul Pande

So...we got through the first night. Actually, that is one hell of an understatement: tonight was a resounding success, and I feel I should give you my take on exactly why that was the case. It's been approximately four hours since the first performance ended, and though the adrenaline still hasn't quite worn off I'll do my best to give you a coherent picture of what the big night is like for those of us lucky enough to get to tread the Bloomsbury boards. This is my third consecutive year in the UCL Greek Play, and in my experience the first night is a generally a very nervy affair - not so much performing as attempting to overcome a series of minor (and occasionally major) crises in front of 300-500 people who may or may not want to be there. As a result the product that is presented to the audience tends to leave a bit to be desired in terms of intensity. Tonight was different. Maybe it was the first unveiling of the full costumes. Maybe it was the 7pm psyche-up session in the green room. Maybe it was just the coffee. But from the first spellbinding frame of the projection of Aphrodite to Theseus' final despairing lament, every single actor was fully locked in to what they were meant to be doing and why. In particular the choruses - of which I am proud to call myself a member - seemed to take to heart the directors' instructions to outdo each other emotionally speaking, which created a virtuous circle - the strong and at times vocal reactions of the chorus drew in even the most easily distracted members of the audience, thus providing the principal characters (especially Hippolytus, Phaedra and Theseus) with the perfect atmosphere in which to really commit to Anne Carson's powerful translation, which in turn gave the chorus the confidence to react vigorously to the crescendo of horror taking place in front of them. Being in the chorus gives you the unique opportunity to both be involved in and watch the action simultaneously - indeed, within the context of the play we are the first audience, with the people in the seats a step further removed - and this rare synergy of leads, chorus and spectators was especially notable during the closing scene where Theseus and his mortally wounded son are poignantly re-united after the revelations of Artemis - there were real tears cried tonight. For someone of my very limited acting range, being able to work off people who can be so emotionally in the moment is a gift. Vaguely-expressed thespian gubbins aside, the energy levels of everyone even vaguely involved tonight were incredible, which made the whole night a seriously enjoyable experience. Well done, every last one of you. Let's have more of the same tomorrow please (well, today now if we're being pedantic). Nakul Pande, male chorus

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