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Monday, August 22, 2011

An Autobiography Of A Newbie Director

Preface. Dearly Beloved, A Brief History: We received this play in its original form in early 2010. Scene Two was included in play. Discovery in July 2010. It was workshopped at an closed reading in January 2011 and given a script-in-hand staging in April 2011. Two directors, three casts, and several drafts later, we went into casting for the world premiere staging in July 2011.

Chapter One. Pre-Production: We've been talking about and workshopping this play for so long that I can't remember a time when June, Julius, and Morrie weren't on my mind. For a long time, the idea of producing the show went hand-in-hand with where we were headed as a company. It was most realized goal we'd had for a long time and a definite jumping off point for us. We started interviewing for directors, and we spoke with some really interesting and qualified candidates, but the more we spoke with people, the more we realized we weren't quite ready to put our baby into someone else's hands. We had spent so much time on the play to the this point, it made the most sense to put the show in the hands of one of the Artistic Directors. Since I had been the play's editor for the workshopping process, we decided that I was the most prepared to direct the show. So off we went.

Chapter Two. Auditions: I don't think I'm a nervous person by default. There are definitely situations where I become a Nervous Nancy, but my general disposition is that of jittery excitement. And so with all of that jittery excitement in tow, I walked into the audition room for Dearly Beloved and started on a new journey. They say you learn the most about auditioning once you sit on the "other side of the table." This is a true statement. But what's an even truer statement is that no matter how nervous you are about walking into the audition room, there's a good chance the auditors are even more nervous that you are. Why? Because they need the right people to walk into the room. And I only needed three actors. I can't even imagine what it's like to cast more people. (Another lesson learned -- putting actors together into organized and productive groups for callbacks is no small feat. Holy mother.)

So we headed into callbacks. I felt better about it, but I was still nervous about "seeing it." Seeing my cast together and feeling, "there it is." But, what they say (I don't know who they are but they certainly have a number of words of wisdom running through this blog post.) is true - when you know, you know. The callback process was not without drama or stress. But eventually, when I saw three names on paper, I knew I had my final June, Julius, and Morrie and that was a fantastic feeling.

Chapter Three. Rehearsals: I'm new at this. I've never directed a show of this length before in a professional setting. As I've mentioned, I was jittery, but it was a good kind of jitter. From the first read, I knew three things: 1. Alyce, Patrick, and Tony are the right trio. 2. This is going to be a lot of work. 3. It is going to be worth it. I have a plan, but I've definitely learned that flexibility is a valuable quality. I don't always have all the answers. In many ways, I know this script backwards and forwards. However, at least once a rehearsal, one of the actors poses a question or makes an observation that I hadn't thought of before (or at least in that particular way) and it reminds me why we call it a rehearsal process. At the end of the day, it is, in fact all process. And I'll confess a little something about my process, sometimes I make it up as I go along. When you realize your first technique is failing miserably, you have to change it up. And thankfully I've got three actors full of imagination, humility, and the desire to try. (Everything from slow dancing to tag to magic lessons - thanks, guys!) And I've come to the realization that "they" were right again. If you cast the right people, half of your job is done for you. We've got 17 days until we open the show and while we've still got a lot of work ahead of us, we're on the right track, and I know this is a show I'm going to be extremely proud of.

Stay tuned for Chapter Four - and we hope you'll join us for the final chapter - PRODUCTION. Catch my directorial debut and the WORLD PREMIERE of Dearly Beloved, September 9, 10, 16, and 17 at Unity Somerville. Featuring: Alyce Householter, Patrick Poulin, and Tony Rios.

--> You can purchase tickets HERE. <--

See you at the show! (I'll be the one grinning ear to ear!)
- EG

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