Farnsworth Chronicles, 16

There are a few more yawns this morning, as many late nights and full days are catching up with me.  Busy 8-hour days at the office have been followed by 5-hours at the theatre as we've been preparing for our first audience.

"Places for the top of the show," said the Assistant Stage Managers, flying by our dressing rooms, putting a carefully choreographed movement of 21 bodies in motion to various hidden spots on both levels of The Farnsworth Invention set.

Silent handshakes and whispers of "Good show!" were in abundance as Alan Roberts welcomed representatives from TELUS to the podium to announce their commitment of $250,000 to Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre.

I could just barely see and hear the proceedings from my starting position, just out of view of the audience and within a few steps of my spot on the upstage staircase where I would begin the opening speech of the show.

Cheque presentation photograph and speeches done, the scrim just upstage of the proscenium came down and Stage Manager (SM) Steph Link pulled the trigger on a sequential list of cue calls that began the "TV tales", as dubbed by the Fort McMurray Today on the cover of their April 27th edition.

The preview performance, which went remarkably well last night, is actually the last dress rehearsal, the audience being the final added element.  It was our first opportunity to find out where the laughs were going to land.  Up to that point, we had not had to deal with chortles so we just barreled forward.  The trick when dealing with laughter is to wait a beat or two so that the next line can be heard.

From the stage, it's hard to accurately guess how many souls are sitting out in the house, but there were enough to spike up the energy and intensity of the performance.  For me, it was the best run to date, with 95 percent of the lines intact, intentions clear and pacing correct.  As always, there is still room to grow, but I felt good about the performance that we delivered.

Some extra work that happened on two different scenes earlier in the evening, made a big difference, as Director Claude Giroux affected last minute adjustments in advance of officially handing the show over to the SM on opening night later today.  Tomorrow morning, Claude, Tiffany and 4-old month Madeleine - who has been an ebullient presence during this entire process - pile into their car, along with Violet, their gigantic dog, and begin their long drive back to West Vancouver.  Keyano Theatre, and our house - as they have been our guests these many weeks - will seem disconsolately empty for a time.  They are family, and seeing family leave is always difficult.

I am so proud of the work that has been done by every single member of the cast and crew.  It seems like yesterday when we sat around tables in the rehearsal hall doing our first read through of the script.  That was March 15th; I had just stepped off the plane after flying back from San Francisco.  Fast forward six weeks, and here we are at opening night, ready to share Aaron Sorkin's incredible play with our patrons.

I can't force you to come and see The Farnsworth Invention, but perhaps I can compel you.  Early reactions on Twitter and Facebook are effusive.  From Karen who declared it "a fantastic production...and a top notch performance" to Kiran who described it as "simply incredible", I am emboldened by the honest and positive reactions.

It struck me, as I put up my feet on the coffee table, enjoying a rare frosty beverage after a very long day  and a more than satisfying performance that the last time I did a main stage show at Keyano Theatre in 2006, Facebook didn't exist.  In those days, if someone wanted to share a thought about the performance, they had to tell you in person, give you a phone call, or send you an email.  Now, kind words shared in social media land have the power to go viral, spreading the good word about the magic of the live theatre experience.  I think that's pretty cool.


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