Thursday, March 1, 2012

Theater Thursdays

I hope I'm not becoming an insomniac. Still having trouble falling asleep at night--it takes forever to unwind and fall asleep. Last night I mused myself with lessons I've learned from being involved in theater for just a smidgen over a decade.

Lessons from the Stage:

1. Being shy isn't worth it. Find the appropriate time to speak, and then let it be known.
2. Auditioning is stressful, exciting, and the anticipation makes the pain worthwhile.
3. Becoming another person (whether auditioning or performing) can help to remove yourself from stressful situations. Remove yourself from the scenario and try to be objective.
4. Favoritism sucks and is no way to make decisions or live your life.
5. A half-full, unenthused audience is worse than no audience at all. I hope that in your life you have some strong supporters.
6. Failure, humiliation, and moments of panic are important in the growing up process.
7 . There are some contexts in which you should never be late.
8. When something goes awry, make it work, think on your feet--the show must go on!
9. Vanity isn't worth it. Wear the costume, don the ugly make-up.
10. Sharing stories on stage is crazy fun, an audience laughing at you is the best feeling, and all the excitement and adrenaline that comes with performing is addicting.

Lessons from Backstage:

1. Walking in the dark isn't that hard when you live in the dark.
2. Watch your sight lines! Always be aware that your job is behind the scenes, and you shouldn't be seen.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
4. Revise, revise, revise.

Lessons from Directing:

1. Stick by your decisions.
2. Try to be consistent
3. Acting is the willing suspension of disbelief.
4. Draw out the universal truths; true of all people, in all cultures, across all time.
5. Show kids that theater is addicting
6. Budget wisely
7. Both ask for and accept help--you can't do it all
8. The hardest thing is to cut a person from a show
9. If you laugh out loud while reading a script, or shed a's a keeper
10. Royalties, royalties, royalties.

The lesson from this week is about being flexible. Without giving too many details (and really, I don't know many myself), one of our principal male roles has been vacated. The guy lost his script, didn't show up to a few rehearsals, and then we just found out that he's done with "Little Women". Lovely. Once upon a time, my gut reaction would have been to freak out, beg for him to reconsider, and flail about desperately. But, sad to say, this has happened before. Because people move a lot in our community (International communities are extremely transient), it's almost to be expected. Deep down, you hope that no one will move away right before opening could happen! This is the first withdrawal we've had that hasn't been because of moving, however. Right away, as I was being told the news from my fellow director, my mind started racing thinking about who could replace him within the show--and who could replace him from outside our cast. I started thinking about option 1, option 2, option 3...going further and further down the line of worst case scenarios until I reach, "cancel the play". Fortunately, option 1 is a great option--and it's already settled. We get to cast a guy that had originally been cut (so sad!) because there wasn't a role for him. His exuberance is wonderful, and I'm so happy for him. Another aspect that I need to relax about (BE FLEXIBLE!) is how difficult it is to rehearse with everyone that is called. I can't even think of a rehearsal we've had where EVERYONE who was supposed to be there actually attended. It's not always their fault--sometimes they forget, but usually it's because of tournaments, festivals, out of town events, and most of the time because of sickness. One of our principal ladies has been absent for more than a few rehearsals because of illness! I'm frustrated for our cast that it is so difficult to block and review when so many are absent each rehearsal, but I also understand why this happens so often. I really love this year's cast--they're doing so well despite the odds. I just hope the odds brighten up a little during March.


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