the transformative power of live theater


Unmasking The Malcontent: V. IX

“Now, good Elysium, what a delicious heaven is it for a man to be in a prince’s favour! O sweet God! O pleasure! O Fortune! O all thou best of life!”

Mendoza, THE MALCONTENT, Act I Scene 5

It’s not every theater company that faces the ordeal of opening night more than once; Antaeus is charged with that challenge all of four times (unless you count previews, in which case I’d call it a grand total of six). It’s been my experience that near the beginning of the production process, actors always seem not only to be ambivalent about opening nights, but ambivalent with a ferocious passion; they both long for and dread opening night with an all-encompassing intensity and complete simultaneity. Over the course of the rehearsal period, that balance shifts back and forth swiftly and violently until it finally settles somewhere for each particular actor sometime during previews.

Mark Doerr and Adrian LaTourelle. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

In general, I think I can say that we did not settle in the side of dread. In spite of varying levels of stress tempered with exhaustion brought on by the rehearse-act-rehearse-watch-repeat schedule, I can only think of two out of the 28 actors who may have seriously doubted whether the show was any good (those two actors of course were leads, and we all know the emotions of lead actors the week before showtime are subject to no law found in nature. They are rarely to be trusted as barometers of theatrical fitness, at any rate.) By the time previews were through, the majority of us knew the show was ready to open however many times it took.

Each cast was allotted two openings: one for friends and family, and one gala benefit for company, board members, and donors. The friends and family events were catered in true Antaeus fashion by the brilliantly clever Ms. Abby Gail Palanker and an elite squadron selected from whichever cast was NOT performing that night. It was already surreal to be at the theater at show time without watching or performing in the play; a whole new level of oddity came from sitting in the Deaf West office chiffonade-ing basil and skewering mozzarella throughout the whole thing. The galas were thrown by the Chairman of the Board and his wife, the darling and lovely Kiki and David Gindler — catered this time by a platoon of black-suited and eerily quiet waitstaff, lurking in the shadows to offer excellent wine and food to any unsuspecting guest wandering too near. It was everything a girl could want from a gala; delicious, festive, an excuse to wear a pretty dress, and attended by excellent company; amongst this last category, members of the press.

I’ve been advised on many occasions never to read reviews of a play I’m in until after it closes, and I understand this warning — but I just can’t help myself. Not only are the reviews quickly coming in, but they’re glowing. We’re a hit! Our 400-year-old, rarely performed piece of Jacobean court satire is a hit! All this time, we’ve been trembling in our boots that no one was going to understand this play (Marston’s language makes Shakespeare look like Dr. Seuss), and now, not only is the play understandable, but they LIKE us! Listen to this:

“Elizabeth Swain takes the helm, panning through the impenetrable-on-the-page language to ensure all the actors—and the audience—understand every word and enjoy them. She creates a world simultaneously Jacobean and modern. Her stage pictures are sumptuous tales in themselves.” –Dany Margolies, BACKSTAGE

And THIS one:

“It may have been written over 400 years ago, but this is a marvelous production of a seldom-seen classic work of theatre that despite its complex poetic language feels fresh, contemporary and accessible. Highly recommended.” –Pauline Adamek, ArtsBeatLA

I think this one might be my favorite, though:

“This is glorious theatre that must be acknowledged by increased audiences – do yourself the favor and go.” — Dale Reynolds, StageHappenings

You heard the man; he called us “glorious,” and “glorious” indeed we are. Come see us! Then come back and see the rest of us. Then bring everyone you know and see the Beccos. The box office is offering half-price tickets to every show this weekend (which you can find more about through our Facebook page or Twitter @AntaeusTheater), but I’ll tell you the same thing I’m telling everyone; tickets are going to sell out soon. We’ve only just opened, but we also only run for one more month (for now) and it’s an intimate theater, after all. Don’t miss it!

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, continues to share her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent . This is the ninth

installment. For tickets, visit www.antaeus.org

Related Blog Posts

Antaeus Library Project

‘Absolute textual clarity: An Inside Look into Hamlet with Director Elizabeth Swain

2021 Annual Report Available Now

let's talk!

Sign up for the Antaeus Newsletter