A.H: So, week. 2 of the Leeds run of Dr. Faustus came and went without a hitch and now this evening (Tuesday) will signify the beginning of the end for the company’s tenure at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Since our director Dominic has returned to Glasgow the company has one very important job to do: keep the show alive. This may sound odd but if the company begins to get lazy or an actor decides to simply repeat the same performance every night the show is doomed to endure a barrage of coughing fits and yawns from the audience in front of them. Thankfully, due to the fantastically talented individuals who make up the cast, said laziness has yet to materialise. In fact, Dominic’s decision to have all of the actors onstage almost all of the time has been one of the great joys of the show allowing you to watch your fellow actor’s performances evolve and become increasingly nuanced.
Dominic too, despite being back in Glasgow, is not yet finished with the evolution of the play, we may be finishing in Leeds but we still have a three week run in Glasgow to go. The whole company is called on Friday so that we can put the final chorus back into the show and rehearse it so that it’s ready to be implemented for the Glasgow run. The decision to remove Marlowe’s epilogue was taken fairly early into rehearsals, however, now that Dominic has seen the finished show several times he thinks it’s important it should go back. One problem this will certainly solve is one with which we’ve had continued difficulty and which is very important we solve: the audience never seems to know when the show is finished. Let me explain...
Night after night, the play has consistently ended in the following fashion:
Faustus in despair is left alone in his study just as we find him at the beginning of the play, the clock begins to strike, being a tragedy and all the language begins to get a bit dramatic with talk of stars and mountains etc, the speech builds to a crescendo, things get a bit devilish, aaaaannnnnnndddd blackout!...but then for a good ten seconds nothing happens. After the ten seconds have passed the house lights come up and we actors, bashfully awkward, swivel on the spot to face the audience looking expectant. Five more seconds pass of just-said-“howsyourdad?”-to-someone-whose-Dad’s-just-passed-away-awkwardness...and then...applause.
Embellishments aside this can get a bit frustrating, so, hopefully, the return of the final chorus will give our ending a very clear full stop, as opposed to our current state of affairs which is more of an ellipsis.
Endings of a different sort are a surprisingly unexpected requirement of an actor’s life. It’s a fairly obvious thing to say but each time a production is put on it must eventually end and make way for a new story to be told by a new company of actors with a new creative vision. This is crucial to the evolution of theatre and allows it to remain pertinent and to comment upon the world it holds its black mirror up to. However, the end of a production also means the end to a wonderful company of friends who after three months of rehearsals, performances, cast meals, and nights out have become a second family. Whilst in Leeds the cast of Dr Faustus have become precisely this, as have the staff of the West Yorkshire Playhouse who have treated us fantastically and made the Playhouse a home away from home. As we prepare to say goodbye to the Playhouse we thank them immensely and know we will miss them greatly.