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12. First Time Director: The Last Show

December 6, 2010

Last minute last rehearsals. Have we got it all right? No more chances to make anything better, to improve on any flaws real or imagined.

A full house, or nearly so. Let’s hope for a good audience, one ready to be synchronized with the performances, to give and receive the actors in their roles.

The director paces the floor at the rear of the auditorium, retreats to a corner to stand stockstill, wrapped in thought.

Backstage, the actors do the same, murmuring their lines for almost the last time.

Introduction. Curtain. Lights. Captain Crozier sweeps onto the stage: “Blast, it’s cold here! I should know!” Alone in the cabin of his ship frozen in the Northwest Passage, his first hint of doubt creeps in. “She was always friendly to me. . . .” Sophy makes her first ethereal appearance just out of his sight. A quick reference to the expedition’s stores, a foreboding of doom: “The cook says it is from the lead in the solder of the tins”

Eerie, unsettling music sets the tone for the second scene. Curtain. “Ah, my Sophy, my ship is stranded in the ice.” Sophy appears again onstage, first to the audience, then to the stricken captain. revealing to him and us a truth they will each carry to their graves. His dismay is palpable. “I could have come back.” It is too late. “You won’t?”

Her touching recognition, and his, of a final, fatal misunderstanding. “Oh, Francis, that is not what I meant! That is not what I meant at all.”

Lights dim. SFX: the ship sinks. Curtain.

Applause.

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