Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Theatre is not a democracy...

A long reheasal yesterday...I must admit, as we moved into hour six I hit the wall.  Just sort of stopped thinking.  It was an unwelcome reminder that I don't have the power to concentrate for long periods of time like I did as a youngster.  Nonetheless, a great deal was accomplished.

This play has so many arresting, startling moments and images in the first three quarters of the show, it's difficult to top these moments.  And yet, it's necessary to take the show to higher and more interesting places as the play progresses.  It's just common dramaturgical sense. 

In a sense, it's the fault of the play itself.  It achieves so very much throughout that the ensemble (and by this I mean the music, the direction, the acting, the actors, the plot, the theme) is sorely pressed to top itself.  It's kind of like watching Death of a Salesman all the way to the end and finally, Willy says, "That darned Biff, why, he makes me a little crazy sometimes.  Oh, well, back to work."  Just doesn't quite do the piece justice.

To be fair, I was really tired by the time we reached the blocking for the end of the show, so I may have been a bit cynical by that point.  In any event, I can't help but think we're missing something.  Something big.  Something unexpected.  A completely new, 'out of the box' way to look at it.  I'm carefully not going into specifics here because it just wouldn't make a lot of sense to anyone who isn't involved in the piece.  And of course, there's the impossibly complicated music, too.  Haven't even begun to try and add that to the mix yet.

Ron is a surprising director, thriving on the unexpected.  He never does what I think he might.  That's a compliment of the highest order, incidentally.  I love that.

Maybe today's rehearsal will shine a new light on the stuff we're tackling at the end of the play.  Most likely it will.

In any event, the play is so explosive.  Yesterday we'd be shuffling along, connecting the dots, being sort of pedestrian about the work and then suddenly and without warning a moment would come along and the piece just soars.  It reaches a level of drama usually reserved for high opera.  At this point in the process we still just get glimpses of it, brief moments of 'AH, HA!'   And then, like a young bird trying to take flight, we're back to the hard work of actually mounting it.  But the cool thing is we all feel it, we all see it, we all hear it, however quickly.

Sometimes I have a low threshold of tolerance for myself.  I am frustrated when I don't have the tools to do what I want when I want it.  It's entirely my fault.  I see a moment that I want, an image I'd like to portray and yet I know I can't get to it yet.  And then I get a little pissed off at myself.  I know that sounds a little nebulous, but it's the best I can explain it.

There is a piece of music in the latter part of the play, a song that the character of Daisy (being performed by the wonderful Christine Horn) carries, that is giving me fits.  I simply can't hear it yet.  Today is all about that piece of music.  I plan on listening to it about 1,000 times.  I can't make a contribution to the play in this section unless I'm completely secure with the music.  It's making our musical director a bit frustrated, too, and I can't blame him one bit.  It's a classic example of looking for the softer, easier path rather than just buckle down and do what it takes to get it under my belt.  A character flaw of mine, to be sure.  So after a little whining to myself last night, a little blaming other people, a little kvetching, I finally realized it's squarely on my shoulders, no one else's.  I have to work harder.  I have to do more.  I have to give it the time it deserves.  If something isn't working for me, it's my fault, no one else's. 

In early today for costume fittings and then back to the drawing board.  No excuses.

So...alright...hm.  Enough personal flogging.  Gonna have some breakfast and dig in.  It's time I took my own advice (something I tell my students all the time), "Theatre, ultimately, no matter how we try and dress it up, is not a democracy."  So I've been given my assignment.  It's up to me to do it.

See you tomorrow.