When I became the director of Self-Titled, I ended up having to look at them from a whole new angle: How is the story developed? What is play’s message? What ambiguities has the playwright left me and the cast to mine? What technical or logistical challenges do I have to overcome in production? This was pretty nerve-wracking when the playwrights were so involved in the production process. When I direct new works, I’ve always tried to embrace the work as it exists in the moment, solving problems without challenging or changing what the playwright has written. This time it was pretty important not to screw it up—even more so when directing the play that I wrote. What ridiculous playwright thought it would be a good idea to set a play in a room covered with broken glass? Oh yeah, that was me.
Adding the actors brought a whole new set of perspectives to the process. In the rehearsal process, I consider them experts on their characters’ intentions and tactics, but I have to be sure that those choices play well together and are supported by the script. Sometimes there is more than one right answer and so, together, we wade through the possibilities to find the one with the most dramatic potential. We try different things until something takes flight in rehearsal.
So by this point in time, I feel like I know these plays, and this whole show, pretty damn well. Then at our last group rehearsal, we added music. The Metronome Society Band has been working on their own interpretation of the songs from albums that inspired the plays, and the music ties the work together in a whole new way. Just when I thought there was nothing left to learn about these five plays, everything became new again.
As I write this, I’m getting ready to head into our one complete tech/dress/music rehearsal. I know that we’re ready, but I also know that things will probably go wrong. The day will probably be simultaneously too long and too short. I’m prepared for anything. And the most thrilling thing is that I know that I can still be surprised.