Well, as Indy says at the start of Raiders (and at the start of this show)...
"This is it."
All that editing, all that writing, all that line-learning, all that choreography and all that rehearsal... all comes down to this.
This is either going to work, and they'll all enjoy it, coming along for the ride and revelling in the celebration it's intended to be...
Or it's going to fail, and they'll all sit there, stony-faced, with their arms crossed, thinking "You're not in your bedroom now, Nerdlinger!"
If it DOES fail, I will know pretty darn soon. If there are no laughs in the first 2 minutes, I'll have an absolute mountain to climb for the following 58 minutes. On stage all alone. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
I'm hoping that the reaction to my Opening Night won't be like this one, from Mel Brooks's The Producers.
I've invited my wife, my mum, my sister and quite a few friends from television who I've worked with over the years, in the hope of an Opening Night audience who'll be gentle with me.
A week or so earlier, I'd been to the The Fringe Festival launch, and was reminded quite starkly of how much my show is perhaps not ideal Fringe material. I remember the director of the Festival making a speech to all of us who were about to put on shows in the Fringe; "You're all amazing, you're all innovative. You're all bold, experimental and really pushing the boundaries of art. You're all fresh, you're all original." And I'm standing there contemplating my upcoming performance of three movies from around 30 years ago, and thinking "Um, thanks, I'll see myself out...."
I'm reminded again of this fact, before the show, as I'm waiting to go on, standing in a corridor of the North Melbourne Town Hall. I hear ushers calling patrons in to various other shows in the building; "Homage to Uncertainty! Anyone here for Homage To Uncertainty? Your show starts in five minutes! Five minute call for Homage To Uncertainty!" Which certainly sounds a lot more artistic, a lot more esoteric, a lot more "Fringe" than "Raiders of the Temple of Doom's Last Crusade? Anyone here for Raiders of the Temple of Doom's Last Crusade?"
Back in May, the Melbourne Fringe Festival had contacted me and offered to extend my season from one week (8 shows) to two weeks (14 shows). Now, I don't know who'd pulled out in order for me to get this offer, but I eagerly accepted. A chance to amortise - and hopefully recoup - my expenses. On the other hand, if the show didn't work, this would be a very long and lonely fortnight....
And as Opening Night approached, if any doubts of this nature ever crept into my mind, I kicked them out again, immediately.
I can't afford to have any self-doubt; audiences smell that stuff a mile off. SELF-DOUBT DOES NOT LIVE HERE!
A fact I'd been reminding myself of six days earlier, when I was taking part in the filthy, strenuous - and sometimes painful - obstacle course challenge known as Tough Mudder. (I know, I know. It seemed like a good idea at the time). On that day, as I fronted up to the various challenges - whether they involved crawling on your belly while being electrocuted, or jumping from heights into muddy water - I repeatedly asked myself "What Would Indy Do?" Of course, the answer was always the same - he would dive in and GO FOR IT; decisively, boldly.
And so it was with this.
As I took my position outside The Meeting Room, ready for my Opening Night entrance, I felt nervous. A type of nervousness that I hadn't really felt since my stand up comedy days. But tonight, I told myself, I just have to do what I did back then; Step off the edge, and Stick to the plan.
The lights go down, and the jungle noises fade up.
That's my cue.
I open the door, enter the room, and start the show.
A minute in, at the first bit of physical business (when Indy swings across the pit in the temple), there's a little laugh. A minute later, when Indy comes face-to-face with the impaled Satipo, there's another laugh. When Indy's escaping the temple, running to the plane, and interrupting Jock's fishing, there's a bigger laugh.
I can not tell you how sweet those sounds were.
This IS going to work. The audience DOES get - and appreciate - what I'm trying to do here. Their laughs - and my immense RELIEF - spur me on, and my performance seems to gather energy as the show goes on.
Much like Dr Jones in the opening scenes of Raiders, we were off to a flying start.
Leave a Reply.