Thursday, September 9, 2010
Our Audience Member
We had our dress rehearsal tonight.
In the house were five directors and one audience member. Which means that if he didn't like the show, we could have beaten him up.
But he did, and we didn't.
My good friend Yussef El Guindi did us the courtesy of being our audience this evening. I've known Yussef for over a decade and it's been a delight watching his fame grow. He's always been one of my favorite playwrights, and now there are a lot of people who agree with me.
Yussef's probably best known for his political plays. As an Arab-American, he's had an interesting decade. I remember him talking about what it was like to fly in the weeks and months after 9/11/2001, and it's been fascinating watching his plays turn from clever thrillers and neo-Shavian comedies into pieces that take on dark issues like interrogation of Americans of Arab descent (Back of the Throat, Language Rooms) and politically adept comedies that take on issues like Hollywood stereotypes (Jihad Jones and the Kalsnikov Babes) without becoming bitter.
He is a man of scrupulous manners, outstanding conversation and a laser-like critical eye. I, and more specifically several of my plays, owe him much.
After the performance one of the actresses, Sarah Rose Nottingham, came up to me. "I loved our audience!" she said. I laughed--she knew that aside from the directors there was an audience of one. But she was serious. "He watched. He really focused on us. I could feel him in the house."
It's true. If you've got the right person as your audience, even if it's just one person, theater happens.
Of course, we're hoping for better houses most nights. Let's see how this weekend goes.