I performed a bilingual play (Yes! In modern Greek!) with the Greek Theatre of New York in the 80's. The play was based on the Pandora myth. Pandora is given a jar (or box like object) as a wedding present from Zeus and told never to open it.As most curious women, Pandora becomes obsessed with the sealed jar until she can't stand it, opens it, and all the evils of the world escape: Envy, Disease, Sickness, War, and Hate. By this time the audience is overwhelmed by all this pestilence and weary Pandora (me) finally admits she screwed up and says, "I never should have opened that jar." A Greek speaking woman, who was sitting front and center, stands and points directly at me, yelling in Greek and English, "Tora (Now) einai (it is) TOO LATE (in English)"
At this point I exit stage left and run off crying in shame but I almost burst a blood vessel from trying to conceal my laughter. We also separated the backstage with a cloth backdrop with Zeus' face painted on it that began jiggling all around because all the other actors were convulsed with laughter and couldn't stop bumping into it. Even when I returned onstage to see HOPE fly out of the jar that Greek speaking woman would have no part of it and repeated in a loud stage whisper, "Tora einai TOO LATE."
I have been thinking about my Pandora onstage experience and how an interactive audience can affect a performance. Kids are so spontaneous when it comes to cheering on heroes and "Booing" villains. When adults participate, it is almost funny to us in the US, but in other cultures it is acceptable. An actor always strives to be truthful to affect an audience, and in this case it was a surprise to me and the audience!
Also this experience echoed the fact that lessons learned, as interpreted from Greek mythology, are deep rooted in Greeks of all generations, and valued. This experience working with Greek American actors was valuable because we not only shared "playing" together, but we shared a cultural bond which was very special. I ventured into play writing shortly after working with the Greek Theatre of NY. One of my children's plays has a Greek theme based on ancient times, THE GODS ARE ALWAYS WATCHING (so you'd better watch out!)
So in conclusion, one performance can really leave a lasting impression.