Thursday, September 29, 2011

Opening Night: TEN LITTLE INDIANS Blog 8

Tomorrow night, the show opens. I'm excited and a little nervous. I'm not on stage, but my cast will be. I know they'll do fine, but for whatever reason, I've got those pre-opening night jitters. There's still some stuff to do. It'll get done, but nevertheless I still find myself thinking of several things at once. I've grown more absent minded in the past few weeks. A play production in and of itself is more than enough stress for a person to have at a particular time. However, there's a lot of other things going on that have increased my stress several times over: lack of money, vehicle problems, troubles at work, and the approaching anniversary of my Dad's sudden death two years ago. All of this compounded with the problems associated with directing a local theatre production in the final weeks has aged my old soul even more. Yet, I'm excited. A theatre production is a strange cocktail composed about half nervous apprehension and half pure exhilaration. I've had enough of the nervous apprehension and am looking forward to the pure exhilaration. So, if you're in or around Highland, IL this or next weekend, come on out and stop by and see TEN LITTLE INDIANS. You won't regret it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fading Away: TEN LITTLE INDIANS Blog 7

I mentioned in a previous post that I've been telling my cast for a little over a week that, "I must decrease and you must increase." That's really my function and role now.

Ten Little Indians opens this Friday. Hopefully, it'll be a big crowd. I began working on this show back in February. I read the script over and over and over. I talked to people about helping out with the show. I talked-up and promoted auditions. This summer I was busy gathering together the pre-show music. Up to this point, I've done all I can to make this a great show. However, things are just about out of my hands now.

When the curtain opens for the first time on Friday, it won't be me on stage. It'll be the actors I've been working with for the past 7 weeks. The show is their show at this point; I'm just some guy's name in the program. In the final days leading up to opening night, there's only so much I can do. The set is built. The crew is gathered. At this point, I'm more of a custodian than anything else. That's not to say my job is done, because it isn't. Yet, most of the job is and after Wednesday it will be completely out of my hands. I must decrease and they must increase and as a director of a theatre production, you must be comfortable with that. Some directors can't handle that; they micromanage things even after a show has opened. That's no good because all it does it create unnecessary tension. As a director, you have to have faith in your cast and trust your crew. By the time the show opens, you have to fade away-though you still might be needed, your job is done.

The Joy of Directing: TEN LITTLE INDIANS Blog 6

For me, as a director, one of the greatest joys is watching someone who has never acted before and see them evolve before your eyes over the course of a few weeks from a complete novice into the character in the play. Someone who has never acted before often begins with a characterization of what they think they should be doing; it's as though "acting" in their mind is completely removed from reality. It's true that the "acting" we see on tv, movies, and often on stage is lifeless and nothing more than cardboard characterization. However, real acting and theatre aren't like that. This can be a difficult concept for someone who has never acted before to understand. Yet, as a director, if you are patient, even the most untrained person can appear as a seasoned veteran. It doesn't always happen, but when it does it's an amazing thing to behold.

I've seen it happen in Ten Little Indians. There are two people in the show who have never been on stage before. They have grown leaps and bounds since I first saw them on stage 6 1/2 weeks ago during auditions. I'm very proud of them.

I'm proud of the whole cast, actually. The cast is an eclectic group with a huge variety of personalities. There have been some struggles, but they are starting to find their groove. I've been telling them for over a week that "I must decrease and you must increase." They are. When showtime comes, I'll be there, but it's not really my show. It's their show.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Two Saturdays ago was the main day of set building for the show. I hate set builds. I'm not a very mechanically inclined person. I can use tools, but I can't build anything; I need someone to tell me where and what they want me to cut or drill. I was lucky enough to have a set designer/technical adviser for the show. Unfortunately, that person had to leave before noon which ultimately left me in charge. When your the director of the show, there are thousands of questions people ask of you during the process. At set build, the number of questions intensifies. You try to keep people busy and involved while they are there, but the work never seems to get done and before you know it the day is done and most everyone has left.

I've been lucky in the shows I've been in charge of so far, because the sets have been kept fairly simple. Yet, on the set build day that doesn't seem to matter. Things always become more complicated than they need to be and the straight-forward plan you started with gets bogged down in the slime of reality. It's even more frustrated when your set designer isn't there and even though you're an incompetent Doozer (that's a Fraggle Rock reference), everyone still looks to you for answers. I hate set builds.