Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Doing Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Now that the public controversy over this production has subsided, I find myself both wanting and needing to focus on the very concrete challenge rehearsing the cast and assembling the production elements for the show. I enjoy helping young actors puzzle over their parts and experiment with approaches to their scenes. The task of creating within the cast a collaborative spirit and a commitment to working hard is a subtle one. It's interesting to see the way different personalities and egos interact, and it's not always obvious how best to direct them so as to get the most out of each of them. It's also important to strike a balance between work and play, to somehow stay in touch with the pleasurable aspects of doing theater. If I've seen my own approach to directing change, it has probably been in this regard. I think I've been something of a taskmaster in previous productions, perhaps a bit too narrowly focused on the work. Rehearsals can be become something of a grind. Getting kids to work in a creative mode necessarily involves a flexible approach on the part of the director/coach. The thing I'm finding with this cast is that they really want to do a good job. They each bring something different to the table, something that can potentially make this show work. Part of my job is to create a process and a set of circumstances that will allow actors to discover what those things could be.

The other part of the process involves the production side of things. My main collaborator in this so far has been Sam Jacobsen, a guy with a lot of technical skills and a great eye. He has pitched me a set design that I like a lot. It's both minimal and aesthetically grounded in the play. I've tweaked it a bit, bringing on board some suggestions from Beth, my wife. Hopefully we'll be able to execute the plan. A lot depends on how much access we're allowed to have in the Mackeznie Theater leading up to the performance dates.

In the past few weeks I've gotten emails from artists and theater professionals from around the state offering help and encouragement. Regardless of whether I end up taking folks up on their offers, it's a great thing to encounter an extended community of artists and well wishers.

It's time to do it.


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