(I’ve been stuck on the first sentence of this blog entry for a while now so I am going to cheat.)
It was a dark and stormy night when Eric and I decided to do another holiday show together. This time though we wanted to do something different, we wanted to do a show that neither of our companies had done before and we wanted to do it together. So that’s what we are doing. The first Know Theatre and Four Humors Theater collaboration. Or as I call it: The fight over how “theater” is spelled. I don’t actually call it that but I might start.
When I direct I rely on the actors. I enjoy theatre that is owned by the actors. As an audience member I can tell when an actor makes a choice and when that choice is forced upon them. When I direct I need the actors to come to me with their interpretations of the character. I don’t want to be responsible for their choices or movement.
Here’s why. When I am angry with someone I get closer to them. Some people move away from the person they are angry with. I am not always right nor am I going to make the most interesting choices. Actors are
trained just as I am so I want them to work on their characters and I will help them do they best they can.
This may all seem very simple and obvious but there is a type of theatre out there that doesn’t trust the actor at all. In that world they are nothing more than set pieces being moved around by a director. I hate watching that.
I am used to creating new works. When doing that I have learned to rely on every brain in the room to figure things out and I have taken this approach into every piece of theater that I work on, even if there is a script written for us.
There was one rehearsal for A Wrinkle In Time where we got the overheads in and I wanted to see what we could get them to do so we went to work. We played and showed and talked and played some more and showed some more. When I say we I mean everyone that was there no matter their role in the production, Andrew the Light and Set Designer, Becky the Stage Manager and Eric the Artistic Director. They all were in the room playing with these overhead projectors and figuring out what they can do. To me this is much more interesting than one person bringing in the overheads and showing the actors what to do with them. The actor owns another piece of the show now.
I like actors and I want them to work hard on the show, you get it, I am moving on.
With this show I think it is important to know that I am directing a script, not the book. The script we have is very much a storytelling version of the book. As a matter of fact I read the script first and only worked off of that for all of the initial decisions.
I really like the script we are using. It really relies on the actor and the audiences imagination to create the spectacle. It allows us to play and to create and not give the designers strokes trying to figure out the special effects. It also is a whole lot more fun to watch, especially in the wonderfully intimate space that the Know has.
I am really excited to share this story with an audience. That is the last thing the theater I create needs and it is something the actors desperately need. They have been telling this story to the same person (me) every night for too long. I can’t wait to see what happens to this story when they have a whole audience to share it with.
See you all at the Know.