i have a question...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alice in Wonderland, vol. I

We'll see how long this lasts, but I thought I'd give blogging my Alice experiences a shot, while I have the evening totally free.

As I mentioned in a post many weeks ago, I've been hired at the San Luis Obispo Little Theater to direct their annual summer children's production. I'm co-teaching with the theater's Production Manager (let's call her K), who is an incredibly hardworking young woman. She and I are virtually always on the same page and, kudos to her, she's really great at letting me lead while also totally supporting me and helping out when I need another brain on the job. I was initially apprehensive about working with someone so closely, and I'm sure it won't always be sunshine and roses, but so far, we're cooperating with great success.

K and I spent about 3 days in mid-April auditioning these remarkable kids. Subsequently, we've also had to recast the show probably 8 times (I kid you not). Scheduling conflicts and other opportunities coming up and flaky parents; what can you do? I've been surprised at my ability to hunker down and problem solve in those cases though and impressed at my ability to keep a level head.

A few weeks ago, we gathered our final group (15 kids, ages 8-17) for a meet and greet that went so much better than I expected. K and I laid down the rules, explained our mentoring system (pairing SLOLT vets with newer and younger kids), went over our discipline policy (3 Strikes), and then played games for about an hour. At the end of the afternoon, the feedback I got from the kids, during our reflection time, which we're planning on doing every night, was AMAZING. Several new kids asserted that they were confident they'd feel comfortable, even in this new environment, and the shyest cast member proclaimed she realized she didn't need to be shy with us. (I wasn't even nervous, going into the session, and I'm ALWAYS nervous.)

Yesterday afternoon was our first official rehearsal. We spent about 15 minutes re-introducing ourselves and then read through the script, which proved to be more difficult for some kids than I expected. (We'll have to do some serious problem solving for the youngest kids...) We ended the afternoon with some concentration, timing, and character games, and I was again completely encouraged and impressed by how dedicated and focused the group was, and also at what they all came up with.

I pitched this idea with the hope that I'd be able to really explore improvisation with the cast, and I'm growing more and more confident that I'll be able to really go forward with that idea. The text itself is pretty silly and hard to follow, so what we all come up with as a group will be what makes the show really shine.

One of the oldest students told us, in reflection yesterday, that he was really excited because he's always dreaded readthroughs--feared reading his own lines and was bored waiting until the next time he spoke--but that yesterday's made him very excited. Of course, I left the rehearsal with a bit of a sinking feeling about all the work we would have to do to get the kids audience-ready, but I'm grateful I have a partner on the project. I can't imagine dealing with 15 kids 3 times a week for 2 hours each day alone. I'd lose my mind.

After being in My Fair Lady brain for months, I'm finding myself slow to warm to this project, both in really realizing how much work it will be and wrapping my brain around the fact that it should be fun. I'm sure I'll come around at some point. And, even if I don't, I'm still getting paid in a month.

We jump into Act I tomorrow. Eep.

No comments: