Crunch Time, and Over the Falls.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” – Theodore Roosevelt
It’s been a while since the last post, and I really meant to write more, but Crunch Time came sooner than I expected, and getting a show on its feet is a bit like going over a waterfall (conscious nod to the Wonder of the World folks).
When you just start rehearsals, everybody feels like there is plenty of time. No one is really concerned and things seem to be going well. As you get closer and closer to opening, the “roar” of the falls gets louder and you start to realize that things are about to get real. In that last week or so before the show – the noise is deafening and you really just try to keep your head above water and get the show up and running. Then there’s Opening Night, and as the director, you have to let go and let things land as they may.
No matter what role or what show I’ve ever done, and no matter what previous experience teaches me, there are always new challenges. Producing live theatre doesn’t really get easier, at least in my experience. Maybe that is because I/we keep trying to push ourselves and try new elements, who knows? Maybe it’s just that no one can learn everything, so you keep finding new things you didn’t each time. Anyway, it doesn’t get easier.
The flip side is that if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
I’ll go ahead and say first that, while this should have been the most difficult show I’ve ever tackled…it wasn’t.
It should have been insane trying to direct an uncut Shakespeare play (for the very first time) and managing a cast of 24 without my usual other two partners in crime to help run the company. Being director and producer and company admin (as well as video tech, lighting designer and costume coordinator), is in general not a good idea. I don’t recommend it.
However, it actually wasn’t too insane. I have definitely taken part in shows that were much crazier.
Part of this was helped by my recent layoff at work – no pesky day job to go to – but I have to give most of the credit to our company. This cast has really worked hard and given their all to doing what I asked of them. I asked a whole lot of them, too!
First, we are doing the entire play, uncut (and I have heard feedback from many audience members and a reviewer that they could not tell, i.e. it didn’t feel long or tedious – success!). There is a great deal of physicality in the show – ranging from dancing to stage combat to physical humor and clowning – none of which is “easy.” Add to that cramming into tiny dressing rooms, trying to be quiet in venues that carry sound throughout the entire buildings, and switching entrances when moving into the venues (because we rehearse at a borrowed church), and this is a very tall order.
They are not only doing everything I ask, but they are really making it into a really entertaining experience. They keep pushing themselves each night, keep finding new bits and new moments of play, and they don’t complain…all for basically no pay!
These are people I love spending my evenings with. They’re true artists who really want to tell a good story, create believable characters, make audiences laugh and cry, and make memories. For us and our audiences.
We are now “back home” in Raleigh, where most of us live, and where Bare Theatre first performed ten years ago. We have six more performances and this weekend is sold out. The show is alive with energy and humor and sadness and vitality, and in spite of the difficulties and hardship – or perhaps because of them – this experience stands out in my mind as one of tremendous achievement, for all of us.
I couldn’t be more proud.