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Men of few affectations are the best men…

Tonight I saw Robert Faires’ one-man presentation of Henry V.

Mr. Faires’ among the many bullets on his résumé is the arts editor of the Austin Chronicle, Austin’s very own alt-weekly, and as such is a major critical gatekeeper in town. I will keep the critique of his performance brief – it’s not my point here – and say that there is nothing so reassuring as knowing that your gatekeepers are theatremakers of the highest order themselves.

The performance has some of the trappings of one-man-showdom that I dislike, but they are easily overcome by Mr. Faires’ likeability and the (always useful) fact that the man simply breathes the verse. It made the evening easy and enjoyable. If you’re in Austin you owe it to yourself to see it.

But, as I said not my point.

Kris Joseph and Simon Ogden railed recently against the preciousness of theatremakers (even some not named Patti Lupone) and the religion of decorum in our playhouses. While I personally would have asked for ground slightly more to the middle of what those fine upstanding gentlemen asked for, they’re not wrong: and here’s my point.

There was nothing precious or pretentious at all about the evening of theatre that Mr. Faires and his director, Catherine Weidner, presented. On arriving at the OffCenter and receiving my complimentary champagne (apparently there was some sort of Federal holiday on) I was informed that I would be seated. This is odd for our fringe spaces, but what the hell… not my show. I waited. And Robert greeted me and showed me to a seat of his choosing.

On setting out to perform a one man version of Henry V, Mr. Faires wasn’t pacing out back trying to find his inner Dionysus, cramming scene 4, or opening his 4th chakra, he was personally greeting and seating all 60 of his guests.

Did he then run out back to compose himself 10 minutes before curtain? No. He simply stepped on stage, surrounded by 20 of those guests, adjusted his props and began when his lights shifted.

It was a piece that could have been told in a bar by as expert a storyteller as Mr. Faires. Simply a gathering of friends who asked for that one story about the time Harry went to France.

That my friends is what we should strive for in the aura around our storytelling, that personal touch. That will curtail the feeling of entitlement on both sides that enables the behavior that we bitch about at the bar and keeps them from showing up in the first place. Stop building a monolith to yourself in every production and performance. You may have a gift. You’re not it.

Mind the difference.