Midnight. Just got home from four hours rehearsing Peter Pan. We got through more of the show tonight than last night, but I left before the finale. When the director and the stage manager started yelling at one another, I turned off my stand light, put my music in my briefcase, and tiptoed out.
Okay, they had had a longer and more arduous day than I had. I was just sitting there in the pit, waiting for the conductor to start waving her baton. But enough is enough. The scene with the smoke machine was run three times, and of course the smoke just rolls off the stage into the pit. That was charming.
I have a bias as an artist. I like things that are really excellent. I try to be tolerant, but I soon become impatient with works of art that are ill-conceived or sloppily executed.
Peter Pan is very arguably in the former category to begin with; it’s a dumb story. It was first published in 1902, so if we’re feeling charitable we might say it has the hallmarks of a more innocent age — but there were a lot of sophisticated artists operating in 1902, and James Barrie wasn’t one of them.
On top of which, it’s hard to imagine that the current production will be anything but sloppily executed. Happily, I don’t have to watch it, because I’ll be in the pit. And I’m pretty sure audiences in Livermore are more tolerant than I am of — well, we can’t call it mediocrity, can we? That would be too charitable. Let’s just say it’s amateurish. Not surprising, as the cast and crew are amateurs. The musicians are getting paid, but we’re not getting Union scale. At least, I’m not! (Nor am I good enough that I should be paid Union scale. I’m semi-pro, at best.)
I found myself wondering, as the herds of buffalo stampeded across the stage over my head, as I listened to the actors mangling the lines and stepping on the cues, why the show hadn’t been rehearsed for at least three more weeks prior to opening. Think of how polished it would have been! Think of the precision choreography! Think of the smooth set changes! Think of the nuances that could have been brought to the dialog! Think of how well coordinated the music cues could have been with the onstage action!
Ah, that would have been a fine production. But it will never see the stage. Audiences will never have the opportunity to enjoy it.
And I really do wonder why. Am I the only one who cares about quality? No, that can’t be. Then why are so many people content — nay, eager — to participate in such hopelessly provincial productions? Is it because they’ve given up hope of ever achieving anything better?
I don’t know.