THE MAN IN THE NEWSPAPER HAT – the rehearsal blog experiment

Blogging about an ongoing rehearsal process is dangerous. How much can and should one reveal of what goes on behind closed doors without exposing too much, thereby damaging that important safe place, which rehearsals need to be. You can only find new things if you let yourself go, explore paths never tried, and allow yourself room for errors, awkwardness, vulnerability. So to write about just that and publish it, seems to defy exactly that purpose. A razor’s edge if you’re optimistic, death and destruction to the process, if you’re not.

Well, I’ll try to balance on that razor’s edge, hoping that comments will let me know if I succeed. I’m also opening this blog to all members of the creative team, hoping they’ll join me with their side of things.

First weekend.
Here I am finally in Seattle, to produce and direct Hayley Heaton’s The Man in the Newspaper Hat. Long thought-out, envisioned, planned, postponed, cast, scheduled, and  now – the first weekend around one long table in a theatrical space. The cast, Elizabeth Bishop, played by Lisa Keeton, Ezra Pound, by David S.Klein. Me, flying in from NYC. I know enough about Seattle that I don’t make too many stupid badweather jokes, but the temperature in both spaces is so friggin’ freezin’, that I happily chime in, when the locals start to complain. On Friday we dip into the script, getting our feet wet, and we start locating areas that call for time-consuming exploration.

On Saturday Hayley joins us from Utah, which is always an asset, as I can palm off some of the questions, and instead of using my brain juice, let her try to explain what she meant by xyz. I am confirmed once again, that a rich script, a good script, will buoy the energy, as it allows really intense investigation. You don’t get to that point of “Well, that’s really stupid, but we can make it work somehow.” Having dealt with the opera repertoire this is also a learning curve for me as a director, to think dramaturgically. Generally speaking operas a) don’t generally invite close scrutiny of their librettos, and b) the repertoire harks back to different narrative and dramatic conventions, which you have to cope with as a director of today as best you can. That’s where a hermeneutic approach serves me best.

The producer in me was already doing legwork the first day, and I was very proud that I managed to find my way to the recommended printer – “great job, cheap, but horrible hours, no web presence, good luck!”, find wonderful, helpful people, place my order for 1000 postcards to be ready tomorrow – Juhuu! – , only to wake up early next morning to a very nice email from Randy, my co-producing partner, at this moment in Slovenia (yes, that’s somewhere else entirely), sending me the long-awaited bio of his company along with its NEW NAME.

Not a happy moment. I bite my typing fingers lest I respond something uncouth, and wait for 9am to call the printer. When I call, fortunately they haven’t started my order yet, and I can put a stop to the whole endeavor. Once I clarified via email that yes, this is it, and will now also be included in the press releases, then I call my designer and ask him to exchange Sad Michael for Theatre Lexicon.

Does it matter? Well, of course it does. Firstly, Theatre Lexicon is a better name  for a company that is not primarily a comedy endeavor, and of course I prefer to have that name on all the publicity in conjunction with ManyTracks, and second… well, second, repeat one.

Anyhoo, the planner in me was mighty growly and immediately suspected passive-aggressive intent. Which is something that I found Seattle can do to you. However, my non-narcisstic side has to admit that Randy probably doesn’t have enough time or head-space to think up evil ploys to make my life difficult, him running a theatre company that has just now resettled into the Intiman space, teaching in Slovenia, and then co-producing this little number at the Odd Duck.

All good. Now we have a day off, I hope to get my site finally up, and then we’ll come together and start moving our bodies. Keep looped!