Bastille Day MDMD update

Last night’s show: 1 reviewer, 1 podcast dude, 5 Show Score comps, 42 patrons. Overwhelming show. I’m still beside myself.

Tonight’s show: 0 reviewers (as far as I know, NYT is coming at some point), 7 Show Score comps, and 2 pre-sales (based on the report from Vendini).

Marisol was good enough to meet me for a pick up in the afternoon. She left to get in a nap. Actually, now that I think about it, running the show late night might help my occasional insomnia.

I got to the Kraine just before call to set up. Tim Nolan was on the steps reading a book and I made a joke about how he was like Mick Jagger in “Waitin’ on a Friend.”  Before adding that the video was shot next to Horse Trade’s other theater Under St. Marks and then kicking myself for not working that song into show somewhere because it’s like the perfect song for this show.

I’ve been experiencing a lot from this show and it’s been drawing a lot out of people. Last night was our first night back after a few nights off and it was completely different from any previous night. I finished the end of the pre-show thing Aimee devised and I got a round of applause like I was making an entrance on Broadway. I am trying hard to remember but I don’t I’ve ever had entrance applause in my life. There’s been applause because the show is starting, especially outside of New York, but never just for me standing in front of people. It was like being a waiter getting tipped before he even passes out the menus and asking if anyone wants a drink to start.

This was the first of a couple hundred things that were unlike anything else for me last night. It was a very smart and experienced crowd last night. Many times the set-ups were getting the bigger jokes and punch lines were more like tags as they say in stand-up. The laughs, the applause out of nowhere, the gasps, the groans, the sighs, and the rolling responses that were a mix of these things were tremendous and powerful. This audience brought it.

When you are used to doing the equivalent of panhandling the audience for a response–any response–like I am, getting showered like this is like winning the lottery from a scratch ticket you found on the ground. I didn’t do anything to get it and it is getting spent quickly. I have to prepare myself for it being much quieter tonight. There’s no way another audience could top that.

There were a number of friends and colleagues in the house so it was like a bit of a reunion. I wish I could magically generate a diagram of the people who were there and how they relate to me and each other through shows. However that works out, all connections go back to Martin. A couple people have said they expected to see him after the show. One even said, “Oh, you’re back to being Chris. I was expecting to talk to Martin.” And added, “Was he here tonight?”

There were so many people I know from around and on Facebook who were there seeing our work for the first time. The indie theater equivalent of hosting the Oscars. Even though we are connected, it seemed like this really brings home how Martin was the crossroads for many of us. Because of him, we weren’t screaming into the wilderness.

I had a legit, straight-up out of body experience at one point during the show. And everyone saw it because I could not hide it. If I had my wits about me, I would have said, “I’m having an out of body experience.” But there’s a funny thing about out of body experiences. You don’t have your wits about you. The person in the audience having a great time singing the theme to “Jeopardy” didn’t help. What triggered it? Not sure. It happened right after the name of the site is mentioned for the first time in the show. And it was like I was sucker punched. But I got back on track when I was reminded about what I had just said about the name of the site. I then spent the next 10 to 15 minutes having to tell myself it’s ok. I’m Chris Harcum. I’m on stage. This is a show in the Kraine on a Thursday night. Little things to keep me grounded in my body. Meanwhile, I’m having to do a couple other characters, especially Martin, and zip to several other locations in imaginationland.

Al Pacino says doing live theater is like walking a tight-rope without a net and I fell. Fortunately, someone gave me a hand to get me back to my feet. I climbed back up several stories and continued to finish the walk that also includes a trapeze act with the very talented Marisol.

Beyond that, my goodness, that was one of the best shows I’ve had in forever. I hope it continues to build as more people get the people with whom they are connected to take a chance on seeing this. I wanted to do something big-hearted and that inspires people to keep going. Something about love. But something different. Last night, it worked. I mean, I know there are some people who probably hated this, hated me, and kind of pissed I didn’t make this about them. And I hope someone hugs it out of them. I did what I could for as many as I can with this thing.

So many incredible people there last night. I’ll give a round up of everyone soon but I need to get back to some other stuff before tonight so I’ll shout out one person who was there and is mentioned in the show and one who knows me from waaaaay back. The first was someone who was in the production of “Horse Country” at the Theatorium that is mentioned in MDMD. There was a certain show in that Fringe that made its way to Broadway that was also in that fringe venue that summer. He said that was the show that was always annoying them with their warm-ups. Thinking about that makes me laugh more each time. The other person was Sara Thigpen, who went to undergrad at UNC-Greensboro with me. I was in the first show she did in college. So, if you need dirt on me, Sara is the one to get it from. But talking with her after the show was amazing. Like a cousin you haven’t see since elementary school and seeing that we’ve grown up.

I got to hang out and debrief with Lauren Arneson, Robby Gonyo, Erez Ziv, and a few others. We have a round after the show inside the theater because there’s a bar and it puts some more moolah towards Horse Trade and the Kraine. So if you want to see me after the show, please know I’m stuck there. Also, we have to get out at 9:30pm for other shows so it’s a quick one. Please tip your bartender.

The other crazy things I can’t begin to process are the tips at the end of the night. Seriously. I’ve had a dozen or so people buy me a drink after a show (half in Edinburgh because that’s the culture) but never given a tip. I won’t say names because I don’t want them to feel exposed but I want to thank them. One gave a cash donation last night. Another a bottle of Hendrick’s gin. A third went to our site to donate online. Of course the system is down so I called the company and the woman on the other end said, “Oh, Elephant Run District. It’s so great talking to you. That’s the coolest name for a charity I’ve ever heard.”

I wrote last night that we got a standing O. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened. I went backstage and teared up at that.

I am overwhelmed by the posts from people today. I wish I had Daniel Talbott’s gift of articulating gratitude. It’s so much that I’m just hitting the love button over and over. I guess that’s the thing at the end of this. I made a show about a guy who loves theater and I’m feeling love come to me in the theater in a way I haven’t since before I went to college for it. And I’m trying really hard not to shut down with it or insult myself through it to soften the affects of it or to joke it off. That’s incredibly difficult.

I am so incredibly and deeply grateful.