A few weeks ago, I attended a rousing reading of The Country Wife at Broad Street Ministries. As I traveled coffee in hand (I was told to count on a late night) toward BSM, I had no idea what to expect. I arrived to friendly PAC faces, who had clearly been running around all day for the upcoming staged reading. Although it was clear lots of effort went into creating the event, I sensed no stress, panic, or overwhelm in the PAC team. Everything was in control, which calmed me down.
In fact, the more I helped out moving tables and making the cookie and tea table look fit for even Dionysus, I became excited. Everything was falling into place. The actors had just finished blocking each entrance and exit for the reading. Because they would be performing script in hand, not much stage action would be possible. By the snippets of dialogue I caught while Krista put the finishing touches on the reading, not much stage action would be needed. I had a feeling this would be one of the plays where the language and the writing would have most of the action. Around 45 minutes to "curtain," Krista and Fritzy began briefing me on what to expect as the box office staff. I was handed a list of names-clearly very dear to PAC. This was a free event - the PAC thinks it's really important to make art that everyone can afford - and were expecting familiar theater family and fans to come and enjoy the night with them. As I flipped through the names, I became excited again- I KNEW some of these people! A lot of them were affiliated with Temple (I'm an undergrad) and I recognized a lot of them from shows I've seen around town.
When the doors opened to arriving guests, something unexpected happened. Many people showed up without pre-ordered tickets. I was told to put these guests on a waiting list and to let them into the theater after the audience members with ordered tickets had been seated. The list grew longer and longer, and eventually the masses were let in. I was relieved when Fritzy came out to help me with the crowd. I was even more relieved when we were able to let EVERYONE in. Fritzy held her head in disbelief as she muttered to me "this is BY FAR the biggest crowd we've ever had at one of these!" GO PAC!
The reading itself was such a success. From Dan's pre-show speech onward I could tell the crowd expected an entertaining evening and was happily contented with the performance. Krista cast a beautiful set of actors and each used the language of The Country Wife with skill. The plot was complicated, but not difficult to follow. The silly farce-like quality of the play was not lost in the static form of the reading. The playful language helped create the world of the play, and I had no trouble suspending my belief of the story. When the show ended, the audience happily talked to each other while politely heading out home. This was nice- it left us apprentices and PAC crew to do the dirty work of clean up as quickly as possible. After stacking chairs, taking down lights, and moving a stubbornly heavy piano, we were ready to head out. The night was a great success! This was my first sample of a staged work done by PAC. I think it was a nice preview of what's to come from Timon! SUPER EXCITED!
PAC Acting Apprentice