The kidlings did NOT have an easy time of it tonight. Small crowd. Small cast (we were down two). Their hosting was strong, and the show structure was fine...
...but they were missing the fun. And they knew it. And, God bless 'em, they tried to bring it with them every time they went on stage, but it just wasn't there.
Because we haven't had help in The Expensive Sound and Light Booth, I've been running both from just off stage. Which means I spent the whole show trying not to wince, and to say supportive things as they went out for the next scenes. We did some high-energy scene-starts at the break, and everyone knew exactly what they needed to do.
And that's the tough part. They're new improvisers—even though, in their lives, it probably feels for the seniors like they've been doing it forever. The ones who've been doing it longer have a pretty good idea of what they were missing; the newer ones, even, have a sense of what happened.
They just don't have the tools to get themselves out.
Hell, even experienced improvisers can't always extricate themselves from a horrid show. But we have more tools. If I'm mired in a sucky scene, I have quite a few ideas for how to get out of the quicksand—by myself, by grabbing onto someone or something. And I'm on stage with experienced players who know when to throw me a branch and when to fire up the Jeep and toss in the cable.
The kids—they're just lucky to keep their heads above ground. Which they did, making me insanely proud. Everybody has a not-great show every now and then. Theirs came after just one real rehearsal in a month. In front of a smaller-than-usual crowd. Nobody's making excuses—least of all them. Next Tuesday, we'll work on what they think they need. Because they know a lot about what that is.