I feel like I should take my foot off the gas, slow my roll on the “Being-an-artist-is-so-amazing-theatre-can-change-the-world” malarky that I have been spouting the last few weeks, and just tell you what I’m doing. I don’t actually think it is malarky, I just like that word. Malarky
I have the pleasure of directing this lovely script about making movies in 1940’s Hollywood. And we have such a spectacular group of actors and designers working on this piece. I am excited and nervous (like always, right before rehearsals begin), but mostly I am focused on figuring what our production team has to do to tell this story as best we can.
There have been a lot of good minds working on that very thing for many months now (not to mention all the time Mr. Graham and previous collaborators put into getting the script just right), and we are poised to start off our rehearsals with a bang.
One of the main things that I have been thinking about during preproduction is the way in which the style of the piece demands a lot of cinematic elements, both because it is set in Hollywood and the nature in which the scenes are knitted together. The designers and I have spent a lot of time coming up with exciting and theatrical ways to make this play come to life in a cinematic way. And that gets at the heart of what I think lifts this play up. Theatre, by its nature, cannot be manipulated the way that film can. We are stuck in that room with the audience. We gotta get it right, that night, right there in front of them. But we have to make it look kinda like a movie, and that is going to be a lot of fun for an audience to watch. It is really going to engage their imagination.
Kristen Coury wrote a lot about this in her last blog post. The audience’s imagination. It sits right at the heart of what can make theatre an unparalleled art form (hey, slow down there, Nickell, five relatively short paragraphs and you’re already back up on that soapbox).
This is where we are, this is our challenge. Here at the outset of rehearsals we have to do these things:
Build a set that looks totally normal and realistic and yet can transform into many different locations.
Craft a lighting and sound scape that can make us feel like we are watching a movie, and yet support the heightened theatricality necessary to make the audience lean in and engage their imaginations.
Bring this incredible cast onto the same page with our designers, and each other, and create a unified world for them to live in, making the audiences imagination tip even further towards the magical world we are creating for them.
Put clothes on those actors and props into their hands that add beautiful detail to the production.
And we have to do all of this in 3 weeks. Give or take. Go team.