In 12 days I get back into the whirlwind of auditions, rehearsals, set build, performances and set strike and I can’t wait! If I could move up the auditions a week I would as I am that pumped to get started!
The audition process is an interesting beast. For the actors it is pure stress. For the director it is the first step to realizing their vision for the production, so in other words – stressful. This fall I will be directing both the fall play for Reedy Point Players and a murder mystery at the Judge Morris Estate in Newark, DE. The play Dracula in Love is a comedy and the murder mystery can be comedic. Given this genre, I’m looking for people who either have decent comedic timing out the gate or can be trained to have such during the rehearsal process. In the case of those auditioning for the murder mystery, those auditioning need to be able to handle improvisation – quickly thinking on their feet while staying in character.
As a director, I have the weight of making a show a success – financial and artistically. When directing a show that is not well known, it makes this a bit more of a challenge. There are a million decisions to be made, from the big (set design, actors, lighting, costumes) to the small (hairstyles, props, seating, etc.). The best thing I have going for me is an awesome Tech Director and an enthusiastic Stage Manager. That and a lot of drive to make these shows fun, entertaining and successful.
Rehearsals can be exhausting, time consuming, frustrating, stressful, and miraculous. During the rehearsal process I watch my vision become a staged reality. I guide the first time actor to emerge from their cocoon. I watch the seasoned actor bring depth to their character. I direct the actors to make the scenes believable for the audience. I work with the stage manager to have all transitions and prop changes to seem seamless. I collaborate with the tech director on getting the lighting and sounds to evoke the emotions and atmosphere I am striving for on stage. It’s a process and it is an art unto itself.
Then there’s tech week. Otherwise known as hell week, the end of humanity, the week of no sleep and much caffeine…you get the picture. Every director will give the countdown (not that it didn’t happen during rehearsals, but now it’s through gritted teeth or screeched at a high volume) until opening night in case everyone forgot. And every director will be seriously worried that the show will be a disaster because it just doesn’t seem to be coming together. An actor will completely forget lines. The stage manager will be threatening everyone’s life because props were not put back in their place. The tech director will be making repairs to lights and cursing the actors and director for existing. There will be yelling, crying, laughter and more caffeine, sugar and carbs consumed than you can imagine.
Finally, it’s opening night. For me, I’ll have two this fall – 2 weekends in a row. Everything we’ve been working towards comes down to this moment. As a director, I sit in the back of the auditorium (or in our case gymatorium) critiquing everything. I pay attention to where the audience reacts and how they react. Did they laugh at the jokes? Did they gasp at the shocking turn of events playing out on stage? And I take notes… can’t hear actor very well … other actor missed their lines… can see that actor waiting in the wings…that actor nailed the scene they struggled with for so long…the audience liked it.
When it comes right down to it, it’s an adrenaline rush from start to finish. It’s a dance. It is emotional and chaotic. It is fulfilling and exhausting. And most importantly, it is art. This is why I am so pumped up to get started. I want to feel that rush, and be a part of the process. What a blessing theater is to me and to this world.