Monday, December 8, 2008

Preview update

dress rehearsal photos:

Sorry I haven't posted for a while but have been busy in dress and previews.
As Wings was passing the basket before the first preview, someone from the audience asked me what the toughest part of putting this show up was, something that made me thing "oh, it'll never happen." Now that we've had three successful previews, i can answer that questions honestly...the tech.
Tech is always tough. Everyone's exhausted and on edge. I'm always insecure going into tech because though I can tell you tech-wise what I want, I can't tell you how to get it there. I also came to directing from acting so I'm always apologizing for keeping people waiting around. Its always trying teching in an unfamiliar space and though i'd worked in the Wings Theater before, it's been as an actor or playwright never as a director. It's a nice facility but like most theater spaces that have been around awhile it's very idioscratic. just figuring what connects to what and what actually works and what doesn't was really time consuming. Tuesdays was a really late night. Wednesday our first tech was really really late night. The dress was arduous b/c though most (definitely not all) of the lighting cues had been written, only about half of them had been run. So there was a lot of button pushing and finger crossing going on. We had a small invited audience that night and if any of you are reading this blog I invite you to come back and see what the show really looks like.
Morale was pretty low after the dress. From out front, the show was all there it was just floating around in a sea of tech and tentativeness. I gave some notes and we regroup for the next night Friday (our unoffical opening)
I hate to believe in that old addage that if you have a crummy dress then your show will be brilliant b/c i think it belies the work that goes into making a show happen after a really tough dress. But happen it did. We had a great turnout. The technical and performance elements snapped into place. I dedicated the show to Tina Howe--this show's patron saint. The audience had a good time and, in short, we did it! I had an acting teacher at school who referred to big breakthroughs like this as "shitting the grapefruit". That's what we did--though thankfully not literally. The nice part was everything that Chris and I got to see on stage what we had been working on for the past 3 weeks on stage and could make constructive textural and technical cuts. As solid as everything was, it was running too long.
Second preview was an even tighter show. All the technical glitches had healed and the actors, having one show under their belts gave even sharper performances across the board. Didn't want to give them the cuts Chris and I were talking about until after the second show b/c i wanted them to experience running the show in it's entiretly without the pressure of opening night jitters. But we did cut off six minutes.
Before the third preview I met with Chris at the theater and went through the proposed script cuts. The largest one was cutting an entire scene which though we loved it and through nobody's fault, just wasn't playing. The rest were internal cuts to help move the action along. Everyone was fine w/ the cuts, and the show lost four minutes! I expect it will get even tighter as the show picks up its own rhythm and momentum.
So tonight is our official opening. Script is locked down and frozen, though we may try one technical element later on. We're planning a little reception in the lobby afterwards for the actors and crew. Nothing fancy just a "thank you for all you really hard work and enjoy your two days off". For me, I feel like it really is my opening since my work is essentially done. I'm in that awkward letting go place. My director friend Jeff Seabaugh said the night before the opening is always his least favorite night in the process b/c he's so invested in the play and now has to let it go. Often I'm so exhausted by opening, I can't wait to get it open so I can relax but this time, I'm totally getting what he means.

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