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.