Originally posted on www.cbtheatre.org

I once heard Penn Jilette say something striking about performance: “Being great is easy. Being good is hard.” In this he was discussing two different modes of performance – that which can be done well once, and that which can be done well consistently over a long period of time.

If ever I do something well, I’m grateful. This goes for cooking a dinner that impresses my date, or setting a new personal record for how quickly I can ride my bike down Chicago’s Lake Front Trail, or writing a joke that captivates an audience. Happy as I ever may be about a thing which goes well, I’m intimidated by the prospect of having to do it again. Not to mention having to do it again and again.

I have always credited the difference between something I have done and something I can do. Knocking it out just once could be a fluke against the established order. Getting it right twice merits attention. Being successful every time? No one can be expected to do that.

Yet that’s what is expected of us on stage.

Tickets to our show are the same cost regardless of which week of performance you attend. Every audience who fills the house of A Klingon Christmas Carol pays the same price as any other, and thus they deserve the same quality performance as any other. Be it opening weekend, closing weekend, the night my parents come to see the show, or the night a celebrity is a special guest star joining us on stage, we have an obligation to tell our story well regardless of the circumstance.

We came into Thursday’s show after a three day absence. For some of us, that’s the longest time spent away from this material since rehearsals began in early October. We’re comfortable with the lines, we’re comfortable with the blocking, we’re comfortable with the fight choreography. We’ve been well attended and well-reviewed. The pressure and excitement of finally opening our doors to the public has come and gone, and we’ve now established patterns.

During tech/opening week we established patterns of not merely what goes on stage, but off. Every night begins (for most of us) 90 minutes before curtain as we arrive at the theatre. The projection screen for the supertitles is hung. The actors arrive and get partway into costume before Fight Call, during which our Fight Captain ensures we’re not compromising our safety or integrity. We check the location of our props and furniture, we get into makeup, we help tie one another into our armor and bracers. Our stage manager gives us regular updates as to how many minutes are left in the countdown to the show’s beginning.

Finally, the call comes for Places.

From that moment the production becomes a dance both on-stage and backstage. The actors stand in various areas around the theatre waiting for our entrances and set changes. Wordlessly we assist one another through difficult costume changes. Our offstage path through the theatre is just as clinically rigid as our blocking and lines are in front of the audience.

This dance is both talismanic and dangerous. To fool around with an established order is frightening as it could cause a distraction from the timing of the show. One could miss an entrance or a line. We could get too comfortable in the backstage life and forget the vigilance that causes us to recall the responsibilities which keep the show flowing smoothly from one scene to the next. We could begin to operate with the misconception that the show will be carried off well regardless of our attention to detail both in front of the curtain and behind it. If we fail in our duties, we fail our audience.

As we wrap week two of performance I’m proud to be a part of this show for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the group of about twenty people who ensure a quality performance each and every time. We do this regardless of the number of times we’ve repeated ourselves onstage and off. We do this regardless of how many people bought a ticket that particular day. We do this to affect the lives of each and every person who comes to see the show . . . no matter how many times they’ve come to see it.

I’m pleased and honored to be a part of this cast and crew who consistently deliver a quality product. I’m proud to say that no matter what day of the week, no matter what time of day, no matter how early or late in the run, we will give you the laughs, the triumphs, the conflict – the art – you came to see.

You, our audience, deserve the best we have to offer every time. We’re delighted to deliver.