Disco balls, robots, ukuleles and the end of the world.
We started this process just as winter was kissing the autumn goodbye. I came into a room of strangers, at the right hand of a director whose work I deeply admire, and try to ride out the socio-political maelstrom that gripped our nation.
At a distance, it would seem this production could never be crammed into Steep Theatre Company's intimate black box, nor the dozens of roles spread among a small(ish) ensemble. And yet over the past several weeks, we have managed to craft an elegant, thoughtful, and exuberant eulogy for the planet -- and a prayer for the future.
Between the artful direction of Jonathan Berry, and the skilled stage management (not an over exaggeration - this show has SO many cues, and a single stage hand) of Jon Ravenscroft, I've learned how to effectively support a large ensemble performance. I've also had the opportunity to hone my ukulele skills, supporting the ensemble in learning and rehearsing a Deep Water by Portishead.
For the first time, I am running understudy rehearsals. I will lead the 4 understudies in rehearsals as they learn the blocking and choreography for multiple roles, and prepare them to go on. I am no stranger to leading a room of actors. However, there is a weight to carrying another artist's vision, maintaining it's integrity, and allowing understudies room to build something for themselves as they prepare to own a role as much as the principle actors can. I have found a lot of growth in myself as I articulate what Jon and I worked through with the actors to the understudies, abridging several weeks of rehearsal, analysis, and emails into just a few whirlwind blocking and note sessions.
The last several projects I have worked on have been the sort where I wear multiple hats. Directing, producing, performing, creating sets or costumes - the sort of thing I've always done. This process was the first time in a long time where I was invited into the room to simply be a director. It brought a rejuvenation to my craft that I wasn't aware of sorely needing. I was there to be thoughtful, emotional, observant, supportive and creative. I've grown with and learned from a skilled and innovative artist. What a tremendous joy it has been.