Well, we’ve finally had our opening night and it was a wonderful feeling! After working for two months, long hours and everyone pulling as hard as they can from all different directions to bring it all together, the show is now up and running.
The last week happened so quickly; one day the entire production team moved their stuff out of the Shore Palace, the house where they had been living and working, and a mound of their belongings arrived on the pavement of the Port parking lot. In spite of this, production continued all day in the scorching heat. Our scrim painter has blisters between her toes from working on the hot pavement.
The next morning the boat moved to its performance docking at the main dock downtown. Suddenly we are an art installation in full public view, an attraction and point of interest to all the cafes across the road, and receiving a new perspective on this little Balkan town. This new location is less protected, and sideways to the oncoming waves. After two months of living on a boat, we are all finally having to find our sea legs. The afternoon sunshine slants through the portholes from a different angle now, and light reflecting from the water dances on the ceiling of the communal salon. We are here three days before our opening, and production continues.
Our dress rehearsal was a tense one. The preparations were unfamiliar to everyone, as the salon got turned into our dressing room. The show feels incredibly green. Halfway through we got a real taste of the realities of performing on ship. An incoming boat sets the ship rocking like mad, just before a big aerial section. The Captain calls off the fly, and we begin to improvise. As we adjust to this technical glitch, a whole section of the show gets inadvertently rewritten. By later reports the rocking really leant itself to the content of the scene, but all kinds of little bits and pieces were thrown off kilter, the details of which we find out from each other later and laugh about. Then the microphone of the lead female singers stops working! It was a true trial by fire. Everyone pulled through, but felt a little disappointed at our thwarted attempt to unveil the show for the first time.
The next day, a number of our bunch depart. The reality of losing half of this spirited family in the next three days sets in, as the cast prepares to go on tour and the production crew’s work is done. The day feels unsettled, in spite of being our first day off in a six day week of intensive work, as we try to capture the last bits of sweetness in the collective experience we have co-created. Some more leave very early in the morning the next day, still more later that afternoon. Each one an integral part of making this whole production happen, and to the group energy and experience that we have created.
Then came last night, our opening night. I am glad that a handful of those still set to leave have decided to delay their departure in order to see this last show in Tivat. Spreading the leaving out has helped to cushion the blow somewhat, and allowed for personal connections with each person leaving. Bitter sweet.
Then… finally… opening night is upon us! The energy feels completely different this time, more settled. The nerves of the dress rehearsal are gone, left behind in the dusts of “what if”. The performance, though not seamless, feels extremely solid. The host of kids who graced our chairs stayed engaged right until the very end and the public were very appreciative. The composer, who wisely had not come to the dress, was overwhelmed with gratitude for the transformation the show leant his beautiful music, which made me very happy. The ship stayed rock solid throughout the entire show, and we had no microphone malfunctions. It was a total success! And I was so glad that those who had stayed had been able to see the show in all its potential before they went along their way into the next chapter of their lives. Yippee!
After the show, we began our teardown, in preparation for the sail to our new location tomorrow. A huge job, but one that will likely get more and more efficient with practice. We are all tired, but fully satisfied. I am so happy to close this phase of creation with a positive and successful run of the show, and to leave Tivat with a gift after hosting us so graciously for so long.