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Monday, January 22, 2007

She Said That She Was Hungrier Than I Was Brilliant

Starting in on the final push to get the show up and running as our Friday opening approaches - and a lousy head-cold that settled in late last week isn't helping my disposition any.

For those of you not privvy to the arcanic process whereby live theatre is created, this is the time when, for the director all your hard work with the cast; shaping the production, developing characters, creating interesting and dynamic visual images, etc., all gets thrown out the window, as you begin to integrate all the various technical aspects of the show: lights, sound, scenery, costumes, et al, into the process. And as is always the case, you feel like, having just made significant leaps forward with the actors, suddenly you're being dragged backwards by the glacial pace of incorporating all these new elements, which ironically occurs within just a few days time before it's all put in front of an audience for the first time.

None of this is new to me of course, as it's simply a fact of life at this point in the rehearsal process, and I have complete confidence in the team of (mostly) youngsters assembled by the theatre's production manager, but it's still pretty nerve-wracking (as presumably my very extended nightmare last night of being on an airplane that crashed repeatedly - in typical "Twilight Zone" style - would seem to bear out) until these final pieces of the puzzle all fall properly into place. After all, it's my name up there on the "directed by" line, and for better or worse, I'm the one who will garner the praise (along with the actors) if things go well, or alternately be ripped to shreds if any aspect of the production appears underdone or misconceived; them's the breaks of the game, as they say. Besides, for the most part they're all just following my lead, giving back to me what I've asked from them, and ultimately, it IS my responsibility to bring all the disparate threads together into a cohesive whole. So, a certain level of anxiety is to be expected.

All that being said, it really has been a pleasure working both with a group of long-time friends, as well as a whole bunch of new folks, all of whom have held, and I have no doubt will continue to hold up their end of things marvelously. It's been a great experience, particularly after the complete debacle of my last major directing effort several years ago - which does not warrent retelling, believe me - after which, let's just say I was rather soured on the whole process for quite some time. I feel completely different this time around, as the theatre has done a truly phenomenal job of providing me with the logistical and support structure I needed to be able to do MY part of the job with a minimum of distraction, nearly zero interpersonal conflict, and certainly without being put in the position of having to take on so many additional responsibilities, as unfortunately occurred on my last major directorial outing.

So, by Friday it'll be up in front of a paying audience; presumably a critic or two might even deign to say a few words about it, and basically the "baby" will be taken out of my hands and given to the cast and stage manager to continue to nurture until closing night. That's always the hard part for a director, I would imagine no matter how many times they go through the process, that giving up of this thing you've worked so hard on for so long, in such intense collaboration with all these other individuals who collectively have infused it with their own creative and artistic energies. And suddenly, it doesn't belong to you anymore, and you just have to walk away from it, hopefully with pride in the fact that you've given this living thing all the skills it needs to thrive and grow over the course of its limited lifespan.

But, I'm not quite there yet, and in the meantime, there's still a great deal left to be done between now and Friday.

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Posted byCOMTE on 10:22 AM

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