While the opening and closing nights of a show are by far the most memorable and celebrated among actors, I find the halfway point to be a valuable time for reflection. The halfway point in the run of a show is a time where I find my performances become their most flexible and creative. I’ll find myself, whenever my performance starts feels stale, trying out new line readings, playing new intentions, and listening to my castmates more. To me, the halfway point is as comfortable as it is experimental. There isn’t the stress of perfection like on opening night, or the need to give it everything I’ve got like on closing. I get to act without feeling like I have to “get it right” every time.
For instance, at one point in The Little Mighty Superhero, my character Max and his imaginary friend Jayson (played by Alyssa Angelucci-Wall) discover a grove of coconut and mango trees, prompting Max to remember his memories of his Lola. We sing a little song and do a very basic version of a traditional Philippine folk dance called the Tinikling to the tune of “mango tree, coconut tree, mango tree, coconut tree…”
When we first started performances of Superhero, I was mostly concerned with doing this song and choreography precisely the way we had rehearsed it, because I was told to do it that way in rehearsal. I needed to “get it right.” Now, almost five months later with a new perspective on our characters, Alyssa and I do that song and dance like no one’s watching. I feel in the moment and like my acting is believable because I believe in my instincts. One day during a performance, Alyssa started beatboxing while we danced; it felt so naturally spontaneous that we had to keep it. Nowadays, I actually try and let myself have fun doing the choreography, which is exactly why Max does it in the first place.
It’s a bit of a paradox, but I find the less I think about acting in the moment, the better I feel at it. Almost like my mouth and body are following a script, but my mind can be improvising. Sometimes that script and improv overlap in unexpected ways and we get something completely new without derailing the entire play. That’s my favourite part about acting: the structured spontaneity. You’ll never get that on opening night. You might get it on closing, but whatever spontaneous choices you make on that night will be forgotten as soon as you wake
up the next day. So if my future self is reading this, I hope the middle of the show is just as valuable as the opening or closing, if not more so.
– Douglas Peerless, 2020/21 2Play Tour actor