Friday, October 21, 2005

Ruffman Checks In

posted by Eric Pargac at 3:11 PM

Well, we’ve finally opened, and what an exciting opening night it was! We were oversold and had to stop selling tickets as of Tuesday prior to opening. The capacity crowd on was our largest to ever (and will probably remain so since we couldn’t really cram any more people into our space). We also presold more tickets than we have for any other production in our history. To top it off, the audience loved it. At the end of the opening night performance it seemed as though the they would never stop applauding, and they didn’t until the post-show music finally started to play.

With a play written in verse and in the 1600s no less, it’s always a concern (at least for me) if the audience will “get” it. They got it alright! The laughs were coming everywhere we expected and more. Often we would get huge laughs in places that we never considered before. It is very exciting to perform to that sort of response. Laughter is a great fuel when you are on stage. As an actor, the more you can feel (and hear) the audience’s interest, the more you want to give. It’s one of those great symbiotic relationships that only help to improve the product.

We make it a rule not to judge ourselves by our reviews, but it’s always nice to hear good things and Back Stage West has named us Critic’s Pick, calling the production “simply delightful.”

Even poor reviews would not diminish the wonderful work everyone put into this production. Dámaso has really proven his skills as a director with this finely crafted production. Way to go Dámaso, you did an incredible job. We had the luxury of an extended rehearsal process that really allowed him and the rest of the cast to truly craft and polish the work. Everyone in the cast down to the smallest parts has created such deep, full characters. It really brings the play to life.

It’s going to be a thrill to continue working on this production. And yes, the work will continue. We work through a fight call every night, going through all the fights in the play before we open house to make sure all the moves are sharp for that night’s performance. I continue to work on my dialect and still make little discoveries about Ruffman during performances on a nightly basis that deepen the character for me.

He’s so fun to play. From the first time I tried on his coat (a very fancy number to fit his flamboyant, boisterous character), it seemed the discoveries abounded. I had worked a lot with Dámaso on how Ruffman moved, walked and spoke before that moment, but putting on that fancy coat really seemed to cement the character for me. As soon as I had it on and moved in it with its long waist, frilly sleeves and ornate designs, all that work easily found a home. The capper was a little moment in the play where Ruffman gets his own spotlight before we being our huge ship-to-ship battle. I call all the cannons to fire in that light. There in that spotlight, in that coat, there is nothing for me to do but become Ruffman to the core. The first time that light came up on me I realized that’s the character. He basically lives in his own little spotlight, seeing what he wants and hearing what he wants (all the while letting EVERYONE know exactly what that is). In Ruffman’s mind, all the ladies love him. It’s a blast playing the self proclaimed, “only approved gallant of these parts.”

Thanks to everyone in the cast and crew for making this such a great experience. For everyone reading this, I hope you get a chance to see this show. May you have as much fun in the audience as we have on stage!


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