Or All The Praise You Can Eat – One Show Only.
"How did it (the show) go?"
It is the actor equivalent of small talk. The kind of question that really doesn't beg an answer but we feel compelled to give one anyway. What the askers want to hear is "it went great," "kicked its ass" and/or something either snarky or sincere about the audience.
Eleemosynary is a tough one because the only answer I seem capable of giving is . . . "I don't know."
This is not a response given to elicit pity or false praise. It is not fishing for a compliment. I give this answer for one very simple reason.
Because I just don't know.
After a performance of this show, I don't feel triumphant (as I rarely do but as some lucky actors somehow manage); I don't feel relieved (as I did after Grapes of Wrath); I don't feel an adrenalin rush (as I did after Last 5 Years). Sometimes I feel agitated. Mostly, though, I don't feel much of anything.
This could very well be a byproduct of the role itself. Without giving too much away for the people who have not seen it yet and still plan to, I have decided (with the director's blessing) to portray Artie as having Asperger's Syndrome (a form of high functioning autism – for those of you unaware of it). I am pretty well-versed in Asperger's because one of my children is so afflicted. It manifests itself in a variety of ways but with Artie, I decided on a physical rigidity and profound lack of eye contact. Spending such a large amount of time staring off into space (with purpose) and closing off the body from the people around you makes it really hard to assess what the hell happened on stage. Usually the way an actor assesses how a show "went" is by analyzing the effectiveness of this or that interaction. My character spends most of her "interactions" off in her own mind.
So therefore, I don't know.
And I wish I did.
I am getting some of the best reviews of my life. The word "amazing" gets bandied about. Total strangers come up to me and say my performance was "outstanding." And I stand there – still feeling . . well, nothing.
I WANT to ask "why?" What is it about what I was doing that deserves such praise. I can't "watch" myself from stage. I know actors who can but that throws me off significantly and that is no good. So I wish I could ask. But how does one go about that without sounding like a: they are fishing for a compliment or b: an attention whore or c: a complete loon (which is probably what I am).
So I will likely never know. This may be a good thing but I fear not knowing might mean not repeating.
So for now I say Thank You and try to move on. Maybe someday I will know what was so special about this performance. Maybe I will never know. Maybe there is some grand conspiracy trying to keep me in the dark. I don't know that either.
What I DO know is I have some "amazing" quotes for my marketing materials and that is worth feeling something for.