I love theatre. Really I do. And I especially love directing plays. Each experience is unique, completely separate and different from every other experience. Each group of actors and tech people come together carrying their own personal baggage and personalities which all leads up to some great experiences, some disasters, and some that seem to be controlled by Murphy's most famous law..."What can go wrong, will go wrong!"
The production of "Bus Stop" that we are in rehearsal for is a mix of a little bit of each!
I'll give you some of the highlights which might just help you understand why I having been missing in action from Blogland. To wit:
1. Auditions were wonderful! We had at least two auditionees for each role. That is great because it gives you CHOICES! Casting a show is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of a director's job. The most demoralizing thing for a director is having to cast people that are wrong for a part just because there is NO ONE else! We didn't have to do that with this show! In fact, I have been extremely fortunate that that has never happened to me when I was directing. (At least, not so far!)
Because of the choices I had, I was able to put together a great cast! People that were not only the right age, type, and look but also good actors! I was thrilled.
I strongly emphasized that anyone accepting a role, must be available for all performances! I was hoping this would ensure that the cast remained whole through out the entire production. All eight cast members assured me they were available for all performances and we were off and running!
2. Week 1 -- Went well, had our read-through, started our character discussions, began blocking (when and where the actors move on stage) and finished Act I blocking. Some people reported a few additional conflicts for some rehearsal dates, but that's pretty normal. We frequently have to work around actors' work/school schedules, it's a pain, but in community theatre everyone is a volunteer and they have lives, jobs, families, and responsibilities that must be accommodated.
3. First Bobble: Community theater generally doesn't have a lot of money for mounting productions. And it's costly! For this group, each production receives the grand total of $350 as the production budget. I'm not complaining, it used to be $250! But still anything over and above that amount has to come out of the director....the UNPAID director's pocket. It works but it can be a problem, so we scrounge, borrow, shop Goodwill, and beg for things like period furniture, set design props, and paint. In order to keep costs to a minimum, actors are asked to provide their own costumes. That's not usually a problem unless it's a period show or something special is needed.
One of the actors, new to the group, did not know about the costume policy before she accepted the role. "Bus Stop" takes place in 1955, which qualifies as a period piece and trying for authentic looking costuming is important for providing the right "picture". She needed a waitress uniform and shoes from that era. Well, this actor is new to the area, I don't think she is employed and money is tight. We tried to assure her that we would work it out, but the next day I received a note saying she was pulling out of the show because she couldn't afford it. Darn it! Well, we did work it out and will purchase her costume needs out of the show budget and she will carpool with the Asst. Director which will reduce her expenses. So she agreed to stay on! Whew! Disaster averted!
This is, as so many of my stories are, a very looong story. So I think I'll do it in parts.
This was Part One, come back tomorrow for the next installment....and to find out exactly what "I'm Sorry" about!