Monday, August 29, 2011

And on to the next...

It's now the Monday morning after the Saturday night before, and Life and Death is in the books. Thank-you to everyone who came out and made this show a success.

While this wasn't the largest or most complex show I've ever done it was a very rewarding project to work on. Sadly, I never did quite reach that "buzz" that I was hoping to attain at the outset of the process - too many things just didn't go our way for that to happen. Despite this, I don't feel embittered or wanting this Monday morning - it was a good show, and we did a good job with it. I proved to myself that you can survive a heart attack and go on to direct a decent play. I'd say that alone is accomplishment enough.

Now the hard work begins. Now we begin preparations in earnest (though they've been going on quietly for some time already) for The 18 Carat Bumpkin. I'm really looking forward to this project, but for different reasons than I was for Life and Death. That show was all about the content of the project - bringing work to the stage, including some of my own, that I wouldn't normally get to do. 18 Carat on the other hand is in the public domain - I or anyone else could bring this show to the stage at any time. Instead of being excited about the content of this show, I'm excited about the experience that it will be for the actors and the audience.

The 18 Carat Bumpkin will be unlike anything most people have ever seen before. Lillian Mortimer is not a well-known playwright - I can't think of anyone off the top of my head that she's similar to in style and tone. I think this play will be different things to different people - some will call it a comedy, some will call it a mystery-suspense, and others will call it a love story. It's all those things, and so much more. There's slapstick humour, family values, some great 1920's music - and all of it wrapped up in an honest sense of warmth and fun - it will be like going over to your whackiest friend's house for a dinner party.

I could go on and on about this play, but instead of talking about it I really should get to work on in. The set is built, but there's still so much more work to be done. And yes, we are still looking for people, onstage and off, so if you're interested in being a part of it, please let me know.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Round Two Knockout

It seems that Life and Death is finally having its coming-of-age. We had our first really difficult rehearsal last night, when for the first time we encountered some real challenges when it came to making the material palatable to everyone. While we were only concerned with a small, eight-minute chunk of the production I'm struck by how large and difficult the obstacles this one little segment presented to us.

In the past this would have been the sort of thing that would have devastated me - how can I make this material work for everyone involved? I would have spent days wracking my brain for some sort of rationalization, and probably would have come up short. In all likelihood I would have made the problem worse.

Instead I simply asked the cast to take a leap of faith, and trust that between the strengths inherent in the script, my directorial eye, and their abilities as actors that we would prevail. I wouldn't have done that even a few years ago. I wouldn't have taken that leap of faith myself.

I couldn't promise the cast that we would be successful - in fact I pointed out that if my own past success and failure is any indication there's absolutely no correlation between what shows we feel are worthy of success and which shows ultimately worm their way into audience's hearts.

I'd be lying if I said I'm exactly where I want to be with this show - I haven't yet felt that buzz, and I fear that my craving for it may go unfulfilled this time around - too many people have backed out on their commitments. I haven't been able to do everying I wanted with it. I've made some compromises (some of which have actually worked out for the best). I've made some mistakes. And yes, at times this show has made me mad.

The collection of plays that make up this production of Life and Death ends on an ultimately uplifting tone - there occurs a salvation of sorts, if you will. But getting there means going on a maniacal quest to confont your deepest, darkest demons, and defeating them one by one. Last night we confronted one of those demons, and it prevailed. But with the next rehearsal comes round two, and I have faith in myself, in the play and in the cast that together we'll deliver the knock-out blow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One step at a time

Another day, another month, another summer slipping by all too quickly - for all the things that have changed in my life some things, like the passage of time, seem to stay the same.

We got a lot accomplished this past weekend on the organizational front - moved some materials, made some improvements to the livestock feeding arrangements, and put a major dent in the ongoing efforts to simplify life around the house. So much for sitting down and taking it easy.

Now that I'm back into the weekly grind (even if it's only a short week) I've got to see if I can translate at least some of that productivity and creative empowerment into substantive improvements on the professional front. Over the past few weeks I've found myself coasting a little in rehearsals, working from rote instead from inspiration, and while the creative writing seems to be doing okay the non-creative aspect of my writing is in a certifiable rut - even this blog has seen better days.

Patience is a virtue, and Rome wasn't built in a day. I'm on a lifelong journey to improve my professional self, and sometimes that means taking things one laborious step at a time. My "to-do" list for the month sits beside me, pristine and unspoiled, free of the horizontal lines that say "mission accomplished."

More to follow later this week. I feel another post coming on about Life and Death, and perhaps one about 18 Carat as well. I also think I have a title for my new play, and I'd like to talk a bit about that too. But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here - today's task is simply to make some progress by taking things one step at a time.