Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Notes From Justine 2/3/09...

So what a crazy theatre night...

First, my early evening meeting cancels (hi Krystal). OK, so be it. It gives me more time to say "Hi" to my kids before rushing out to Looking Glass to observe Anna rehearsal and then see Plan B - our first of (hopefully) many wonderful Space Grant recipients. I’m totally psyched about both; to hell with the snow!

So I’m there. Rehearsal starts a bit late but the whole cast is there. Energy is high and they’ve just started very detailed stop/start work from the beginning of the play when I get a call from Jenn. I LOVE Jenn (our managing director). She’s gotta be one of the best people in this whole crazy theatre scene, BUT, if she’s calling my cell at 7:20 at night when she knows I’m observing rehearsal……it can’t be good. Whew! It’s not anything horrible BUT we (through some last minute cancellations and misunderstandings) don’t have a House Manager for TONIGHT!

Hmmmm... it takes me a minute to process this….of course, I have to do it. I’m here after all, and the show must go on, but I’ll miss my rehearsal observation. These observations are not casual. I move heaven and earth and a lot of people's schedules to make darn sure that I can be a part of each show, truly a part of it -- give feedback, offer support, help, etc. So what to do? Duh, Jenn makes the obvious suggestion. Observe the second part of rehearsal during Plan B. Oh, decisions, decisions….both so important, both so enjoyable! I decide to observe rehearsal and skip the show. Difficult. My decision is based on the rationalization that I can do more good at a rehearsal than just being an observer of a finished product. Still, it’s unsatisfying. Especially considering how lovely the House Managing experience was.

Now I haven’t HM’d for quite some time, so the practical aspects may have been sketchy (what the heck is $18 times three anyway?) but the social part was FUN. I like talking to the audience and these folks were lovely. I want to see and work with people who bring in such a diverse and enthusiastic audience! The Stage Manager was great, as well, and getting to chat with Playwright Daniel Matura was a treat.

Ah, well, life in the theatre goes on and rehearsal was rewarding and challenging. They’re at the stage of rehearsal that is my favorite: the meat of the process. Detail, do the same few lines, again, and again, and again. Tweaking each time, forgetting the note in the moment so we go back, Nikki gently reminding, actors laughing, “oh right, the whole reason we went back!” Why do I love this part? This is why, as much as I LOVE acting (where I started) and writing (like pulling artistic teeth for me) I’m a director. This stuff is pure joy. I can keep going and going like that bunny. I often have to be reminded by SMs or the actors themselves that it’s time to stop because I just can’t get enough of this detail work.

Two curious questions came up in rehearsal, 1) How does an actress (with her director) make an obsessive perfectionist not be a B word? Of course in this case the B word in question is Brat (come on, she’s 5!). We have to love Anna, but she’s not always nice to her friends. She doesn’t know this. She’s too obsessed with herself (aren’t we all). Good luck ladies, it’s an ongoing question in the rehearsals that I’m eager to see more of. Question number two is how to break a piñata without actually breaking a piñata OVER and OVER at EVERY PERFORMANCE? To find out you’ll just have to see the show but be forewarned; here at Looking Glass we don’t have pyrotechnics, so it’ll be creative, cute, and funny but not fancy!

Justine Lambert
Artistic Director, The Looking Glass Theatre

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