i have a question...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Alice in Wonderland, vol. VI

We open tomorrow. Our final tech dress rehearsal is tonight. We have a preview audience coming this evening.

I actually slept past 8 today. This must mean I believe we're ready. (I think we just might be.)

This is also the inevitable time during a production when the director has to let it go. Mistakes will be made--probably the same ones that have been made for weeks--and that's just how it's going to go. The actors need to be prepared for things to go wrong and need to work through those moments alone. It's up to them now. And that's always a relief to me, honestly.

It's amazing how many TINY, TINY details can be worked out in just 5 days of technical rehearsals. AMAZING. I mean, I made decisions this week about things like how many sides of a box need to be painted, what color lipstick needs to be worn, where each set piece needs to go and what color spike tape is needed to mark them, how many seconds of prelude music need to play before the first entrance, which crew member needs to help a large set piece get onstage and on what word. I forget how many hundreds of decisions need to be made, and how many ways a show can go, if you're not organized and if you don't have a clear vision and if you can't make decisions. It's astounding. No wonder I stopped sleeping this week.

Aside from rumors of some backstage bossiness and negative attitudes, things seem to be running pretty smoothly among the kids. They look fantastic, the show sounds great, and I'm pretty confident there's fun being had.

I realized this weekend that the next thing I need to do is start being proud of MYSELF and the work I'VE done. I find it very easy to pass the credit on to others: my co-director, my designers, the actors themselves. And I need to reclaim some of it, even just for myself. I built this show too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Alice in Wonderland, vol. V

On every show I've ever worked on, there is a point during the process at which I stop sleeping. I was doing incredibly well for weeks and weeks on this show, which seemed miraculous considering the chaos of working with kids and the challenges of co-directing. I was able to, for the most part, leave my work at work...

We open in a week. I will probably spend 26 of the next 48 hours in the theater (crossing my fingers that it's far less than that, but you never know), designing lights, finalizing sound, finishing painting, and having as many dress rehearsals as we can manage, once everything is set.

Needless to say, I think I've stopped sleeping.

We've finally gotten a few full-runs under our belt, which is a relief. Big set pieces are done and being worked with, lines are NEARLY completely memorized, painting has begun, and sound is mostly designed. It's the tiny details, at this point, that keep me up at night. The parts of the process that I, inevitably, need to give up control over eventually. The fact that the show crashes after intermission is something that I hope will change with the next week of rehearsals, but it's also something I'm not positive about. The minutiae of cutting sound tracks to the seconds we want to use to underscore. The scenes that still aren't quite clicking. The blocking mistakes and dropped lines that are always made. It just feels a little bit like a crapshoot in terms of how much of this will actually get ironed out before Friday. I guess it always does.

As S wisely says, every show can benefit from another week of rehearsals, no matter how organize or prepared you've been. But we never get it. And the magical theater fairies always take over and everything seems to work out all of a sudden.

I'm just not sure magical theater fairies visit children's productions in quite the same way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

thought of the day, 39: collection

Today, the 10 year old girl who is playing Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland gave me a poem she had written in summer school last week. It's an acrostic (remember those?):
Different than normal mice
Outdoors is not their favorite friend
Observe them carefully (We talked about the poem last week and I reminded her that dormouse only has one "o.")
Ranches are where they live
Many different colors
Oddballs they are
Umbrellas are were [sic] they hide
Small and cute
Eagles like to eat them

I realized just now that I have been working with kids long enough, and with enough kids, that I've got a collection of items from them, including all the nametags I made during my work with New York Cares and the "art" I made with the 5 year old daughter of the stagemanager of My Fair Lady. (She had obviously just learned the letters i, s, and t, because those were all she used to "spell out" my favorite foods on neon post-its. I also taught her how to draw a cake and how to write and spell "chocolate.")

I can't even begin to imagine what I'll add to my collection while in school next year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

thought of the moment, 24: such a teacher

I actually just put the words "she's just a joy" into an email to one of my kids' parents.

5th grade math classes, here I come!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This made me cry. A lot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

guilty pleasure #127188

Ever since Deanna picked the right guy on the finale of this season's Bachelorette, I've become mildly obsessed with the show.

Maybe I should make it a point to watch the next season. Those Bachelorettes seem to know how to pick 'em ( remember Trista and Ryan?).

I sort of hate to admit it, but I think this season's couple are pretty cute together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alice in Wonderland, vol. IV

We're about three weeks away from tech week, which is a little mind-boggling considering we just walked through Act III yesterday afternoon. Definitely feeling the inevitable crunch of time when you consider 15 kids, the range of ages, and the fact that most of the rest of the play involves our entire cast onstage. Not to mention regular absences and no technical elements yet. (Although, our costume designer and props manager are on board and working hard to get everything done in time.)

I ran a few rehearsals at the end of June without K and then the 4th of July happened, so we're basically playing catch-up from days off and trying to sustain a certain momentum and hoping not to overwhelm the kids, and I'm not sure how successful we've been at any of it. S keeps reminding me that the main thing is these kids have fun, and I think I'm so bogged down by details I can't quite tell if they actually are. Not to mention that their having fun is certainly a key point, but we can't forget that at the end of this process, they're going to be onstage alone 4 times a weekend for 2 weeks. There's a certain urgency to what we're doing too; despite the fun, it's also a ton of work. I'm not positive all the kids realize this or have a sense of the end result being something they have to do all by themselves.

At this point, it's a matter of time-managing to the last minute and giving those that need individual attention their due. I'm finding it difficult to keep a purely positive attitude because at a certain point, the show will just be what it's going to be, and whatever energy I put into it doesn't really change that. Not that I'm not doing my best, just that my best under these circumstances will only result in so much.

All of that aside, the end of the show is going to be striking, I think. Our costumes are going to be fantastic; our props manager is an utter genius; and 3 weeks goes very quickly.

(In other news, I've booked my one-way ticket to Boston for August 19, which is so soon, it makes me die a little on the inside.)