Wednesday
Oct242012

Drama League blog: Productions re-visited: When your past comes knockin’ on your door

This week I had the chance to revisit a show I assistant directed earlier this year.February House directed by Davis McCallum which had two co-produced runs at Long Wharf Theatre and The Public. Tuesday, October 16th was the CD release party at Joe’s Pub. I was tapped to direct the event. This meant organizing the flow of the evening and staging of songs. Most of the original cast returned to participate. The composer, Gabriel Kahane stepped in to sing for one of our missing actors! It was a concert version of the full production. I had so much fun being in the mix of the material again. During sound check, I was talking to the light board operator. He asked about the mood and tone of each song so he could craft a simple lighting plot for the evening. I told him which songs were “bright”, or “introspective” or “playful” or “contemplative”. At the start of my conversation with the lighting designer, I had a moment where I asked myself, what would Davis do? And then instantly I imagined Davis telling me, “That’s silly. Don’t think like me. Do what the story says”. I thought to myself, what do I know about the story and each song, as if I hadn’t been in the rehearsal room for both productions. And then a funny thing happened; I just started talking to the light board operator. I just started talking, and then he responded. And then I responded to what he said and I talked a little more about the song and then we came to an understanding about that moment of the show, and then we moved on to the next song. And for ten minutes, that’s how we talked about the set list, and that’s how we crafted the look of the lights. It was so cool! I discovered (“discovered” meaning to become aware of something that already existed, i.e. the Wizard of Oz), that I had a lot to say about each moment of the evening—more than expected.

Revisiting a show I’ve assistant directed as a director is a fun opportunity. Having this experience with February House…. well… it made the adventure of the initial rehearsal process, and the focus, and being in the presence of Davis, and the actors and writing team, with that beautiful material… it made it a perfect and glorious actualization of a full circle.

What did I learn: Once I got over that speed bump of uncertainty, I could drive forward with trust. But the trust isn’t based on some blind faith. The trust is based on the effort I put into my role as Davis’ assistant—investing in the story of the piece and being present with the process and Davis’ original vision. And then trusting that I can advocate for the piece, with the same integrity and heart, using language that comes from me.

 

This and other blogs can also be viewed here...

Friday
Oct122012

PIPPIN

I'm beginning my second Drama League assistant directing assignment. PIPPIN for the A.R.T. directed by Diane Paulus!

Click below for a blurb on Playbill.com and BroadwayWorld.com:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday
Oct012012

Don't Go Gentle mentioned on Playbill.com

Read the lastest press release featuring MCC's Don't Go Gentle playwright, Stephen Belber. Click below:

 

And then make a plan to go and see Don't Go Gentle now playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre -- playing now until November 4th, 2012. Click below for more info:

Friday
Sep212012

Drama League Fall Directing Blog: Actors!

 

Actors are creative athletes

Tomorrow we begin the tech process for Don’t Go Gentle for MCC theatre. It’s been a rigorous and productive process in the rehearsal room. I’m looking forward to seeing the play get introduced to the theatre space. While watching the final run-through today, I took a couple of glances at the actors sitting on the side. At one point I noticed them gazing with a joyful focus at their colleagues who were acting in scenes. Later on in the run, I spotted an actor with head tilted forward, preparing to go on for their next acting moment. I will never cease to be amazed by the skill and craft of a great actor. I liken actors to a breed of athlete. A creative athlete. Great acting demands concentration, commitment, and physical exertion as well as personal excavation -- all of that devoted to the craft of storytelling. It requires tenacious effort to be aware of your self but not be self-conscious, and to act with conviction while being open to a spontaneous inspiration. And the end effect is like a ballet dancer who spends hours perfecting a dance in order to make it look so easy and natural. A good actor makes the expression of language, whether it’s explosive or tacit, seem effortless and essential.

Admittedly, the reason I go to see theatre is to see an interesting story and to see actors onstage sharing their craft. It's like watching a baker put the final details of icing on a cake...it's hypnotizing. Yes, I love to see the sets, lights, costumes, props and make-up and hear the music and sounds, and see the staging too. But today, at least until the next time I’m in a rehearsal room, today I got to savor the rawness of a company of unadorned actors expressing text and telling a story. And it was sweet heaven.

What I learned: I learned something about devotion. Not to be simply devoted to the overall craft of theatre making, but to be devoted to the moment at hand. Actors understand that you can't act the whole play all at once. They commit all of their focus to one sentence, to one word, a touch, a breath or a glance. And the accumulation of all of those acts of commitment creates the larger arc of a story. It's about devoting myself to each moment until it passes, and I’m in the next moment. And all of those moments will create the arc of my life.

Thursday
Aug232012

Drama League Fall Directing Blog

My latest Drama League blog is up and posted. It's titled Nothing Goes To Waste. In it, I share a little discovery I made about how I used to view myself and my artistry.

Click below to check it out!

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