I guess I went AWOL with my blogging as tech week approached, but now not only this has passed. We’ve had our reading event at Elliott Bay bookstore, a slew of run-thrus, tech, opened The Man in the Newspaper Hat, and have lived thru the first weekend of shows, and have garnered a first review. How’s that for acceleration?!
Tech week drama
No matter how many productions I’ve helmed or been otherwise involved in, there always comes that inevitable moment when you think “It’s NEVER gonna work!!!”
Of course, after enough years, I do know that this moment will come, and I think I’m ready for it. I think I know kinda when it’s gonna occur. It could be the very first run-thru, the first stumble-thru at tech, the cue-to-cue, the first dress or even as late as the last dress, but it will be one of those. My estimate is based on the most recent experience, and I treat it like Thanksgiving or Xmas. It’s a fixed thing, I can prepare, I am ready.
But no, that’s NOT how it works. It’s not like Xmas at all, but – to stay in that skewed metaphor, rather like Easter. It’s a very movable feast. And unlike Easter, which you theoretically could calculate and not just rely on this year’s calendar to tell you, the meltdown rehearsal will ALWAYS trip you up. When it happens, I’m never ready.
This time it was actually a middle-of-the-road run with tech, but on the lighter side, no real new deals, when suddenly large chunks of line knowledge went completely kahooey. Aside from other technical, pragmatic issues of course. But from a state of affairs of being 85% there, the percentage dropped into the 60s. The beauty of this particular issue is, that as director you can do f… all about it. Except of course give the note “Learn your lines!” Really? Like the actors hadn’t noticed? And weren’t just as cross as you are?
Let me just say, I wasn’t exactly graceful, but to my excuse I have to add that my sound designer’s computer had just had its own meltdown and threatened to lose our complete soundscape just 48hrs. before opening. Well, it was recouped, but Nat had to pull two all-nighters to retrieve the files and to finish the work. No laughing matter.
Our dress rehearsal, one evening later, left me much relieved. I decided to keep it as an invited dress, as the cast had asked for audience reactions, and mine weren’t exactly reliable data as per how an uninitiated viewer might respond. Things were back on the up-and-up, Nat managed to bring in 80% of a soundscape, the lines made a reappearance, and a lot of things worked. Thank God not everything, that would have freaked me out all over again.
Then Thursday night, we open. Good show, the audience likes it. Of course everyone is still thinking way too hard about the next thing, it’s very studied, but I do know that only repeated performances will settle that. I remember the second cast’s lead in Wicked stating famously that for the first month of her run she wouldn’t be too harsh on herself, as she still needed to get the flow of things. Alas, we don’t have nearly that much time. We only have 14 performances, yet on the other hand, The Man is not a musical.
Hm, there’s a thought…
After the first weekend
Ok, we have our first review, and it’s positive. That’s good, and honestly, I don’t care that the lady never mentions my name. She calls the director “expert” and “intelligent”, likes the actors and our green set. Misha Berson from the Seattle Times gives us wonderful placement in an article about theater to see that’s not holiday-themed.
Now the struggle for audiences begin. Always hard, we continue to be out there with our cards, posters, and offer discounts. On the other side there’s rest. Yes, a bit of rest, a bit of relief from the pressure. Thanksgiving is here with the full Turkey, we have morereviewers coming in, so please keep your fingers crossed!!
“What thou lovest well remains,
The rest is dross.
What thou lovest well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage.”