I Survived Day 1…


Disclaimer 1: I wrote this part while having breakfast before auditions.

Even in spite of all the meetings and thoughts and numerous ideas I have committed to my trusty notebook for this, TODAY really feels like the day when I am beginning this brand new adventure in theatre.

In previous meetings, we have discussed the personalities of all the main characters, what their motivations are, what we are listening for, what the set looks like, what the costumes are going to be like, where the orchestra is going to be situated, contingency plans if our audition turn out is less than desirable, and which songs will be “danced.”

Along with the meetings, the numerous spins of those disks in my car and repeated plays in itunes, and the time that I took to make a 30 second dance combination for the people who audition, I cannot wrap my head around the fact that I am going to be responsible for this show.

The thought not only makes me giddy with excitement, but it, in a very small way, terrifies me.  People have constantly asked me “What’s your concept for the show?” They stand there waiting, wide eyed and truly interested.  And to be honest, I had thought of a number of different ones, but my favorite was having JFK or MLK “as” Jesus and setting everything around that.  There are different conspiracy theories surrounding JFK and Dr. King is such a good example for nonviolence and equality of his time; I thought it would make for a very new spin on the show.  Feel free to use the idea if you would like.

Then, I thought about the venue.  I know the patrons and subscribers and they enjoy the traditional tellings of shows.  And I thought, as a new director, would the idea be too big to pull off in a clear way, as in would I get to bogged down in the idea that I lost focus of my true characters.  I remember a wonderful man telling me, in a cafe many months ago, keep things clear and simple. So with that in mind, I decided I will keep the traditional look, but let’s play with the way things are being said. Once I began to dig into the lyrics, there are a number of times that if you merely change the person that a lyric gets sung to, new possibilities open up.  All you need is a door to walk through to get into a new room.

What worries me is that this particular show, while I have a tremendous fondness, it is not a very popular musical.  Many people either A. hate anything that says Andrew Lloyd Webber on it, B. hate the rock music, or C. hate the story.  There are so many great parts and some of them I am really willing to cast nontraditionally, again…door.

But if you were to just forget about who is in the story and the why’s and think about it as a story of loyalty, love, and guilt don’t you think it is intriguing?  What would you do if someone you love asked you to do something that could cause them physical harm?  Could you do it?  Why?  Or better question, why not?  If that person told you it would be a huge benefit to so many people, isn’t your refusal selfish?  There are so many questions to ask and so many answers to find.  I just hope that people will get their tickets and explore this journey with us.

Disclaimer 2: I am writing this after Zombie Prom performance.

Before we began, I thought about something my director for Pippin said to me about auditions.  She told me,  “Don’t set an expectation for particular people to show up. Sometimes life gets in the way and they can’t make it.  Be open to the people that are there and what they bring to the table.”  I tell you, it made all the difference in the world.  I felt more relaxed and enjoyed the process a hell of a lot more emotionally.  Physically, I feel a little worn down, but so thankful to the many talented people that came to audition.  The prospects are looking pretty good even though it was only the first day.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.  Yeah, my body may hurt a little now and I will be stiff as all get out tomorrow, but these first auditionees make it all worth it.

We have another day of auditions tomorrow from 6:30 – 9 at the Saratoga Civic Theater in Saratoga, CA.  Come on down, sing us a song, and dance a little bit.  It’ll be fun!

So I Said To Myself… Don’t Judge Me…

I recently began working on my next show.  Thanks to the Prom, I had missed 3 rehearsals and was meeting the cast for the first time.

Meeting new people always gives me a little anxiety.  But I knew the director and it was nice to just kind of chat with him a bit.  He quickly went over the blocking that I was given.  After about 10 minutes of that, we began running the show, with scripts.

My first entrance felt way clunky and jarring.  I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I can read things and sound totally casual, like I was making it up.  This particular moment though, I felt so out of step with myself.  I noticed that the other actors were really getting into their characters with motion and great choices.   I, on the other hand, kept checking for the markers for the entry points of the set before I walked out.

About the third exit, I had to take a deep breath.  “Relax.  This is your first rehearsal.  These people have been working on this for almost two weeks.  You just have to catch up.”  I said to myself.  Once I realized that it was okay for me to be a little clunky, I was able to shake out whatever was making me feel awkward and by the time I had to improv a tango, the folks were giggling at my little dance.

The point is, most of the time, you have to get out of your own way.  The only way to do it though is to be aware of yourself and ask logical questions about such and such.  You can’t just sit there and say, “why am I sucking?” Ask smarter questions like “What is making me misread this particular script?” the answer; anxiety. “Why am I anxious about being here?” answer; meeting new people.  So I smiled at my fellow actors and when we had down time, I went over and asked what they did the previous two weeks.   Problem solved.  I didn’t get the chance to bond with the cast at the beginning when original introductions were made, so that added to my own silly neurosis.

Even after all the shows this year, I still have a problem meeting new people.  I guess it’s a process, but I feel like I am getting better at it.  But it is such slow going.

Do you get anxious over meeting new people? Or is it something completely different?  What do you do to get through it?

Thanks for reading!!

Until next time…