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Archive for the ‘Directing’ Category

“On Being Authoritative” from Josephine Czarnecki

In Assistantship, Directing, Internship, Uncategorized on July 9, 2018 at 7:25 AM

12417976_10207147773847036_622534980095405991_nSomeone I’ve met in the company at OSF has started me thinking about what it means to be passive, aggressive, or authoritative in the theatre business. One of my greatest flaws, personally, is feeling like I deserve to take up space in the world– physically (standing close to the action), or verbally (speaking up when I have an idea… what if it’s dumb?). Maybe I should blame the patriarchy… but it’s still something I contend with, especially as a woman in society, especially as a woman fight choreographer, and also especially as an intern. I am always aware of trying to make sure I don’t consume too much space, which in my head is a Nice Thing To Do, but my friend has pointed out the detriment of this thinking: what if it’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? (I hate metaphors). People who are nice are often looked over, people who are demanding oft have their demands met; it’s a certain level of power. I guess it’s all back to that Machiavellian concept of being feared versus loved– and what if Machiavelli is right, and the divas get the biggest roles despite, or worse, because of their attitudes?

People in the past have said to me “People take you seriously when you’re in charge?” or “How can you know anything about fighting, you’re so small” but my fear is whether a harsher attitude on my part would command respect, or just elicit distaste for a bossy bitch.

So my friend asked me “Do you think I should be more distant, or like, authoritative? Would I get bigger roles if I seemed like someone who would turn down small ones?” And I said “But even if that’s how the world really does work– do you want to be part of that? Do we want to further this culture where these attitudes are rewarded? Isn’t it worth trying to change that paradigm entirely?”

But is that even possible?

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“Opening” from Michael Scholar, Jr.

In Assistantship, Directing, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on July 2, 2018 at 7:40 AM

IMG_9819.jpegThis was my last week in Ashland.  I thought I would leave right after R&J’s opening as I had seen the other Lizzie shows in preview and I had a lot of work back home to get to.  But because of packing and cleaning I left a day later.  This meant I was able to go to the opening of Book of Will and attend the big party after Love’s Labour’s Lost opening.  I was so glad I stayed the extra time.  I was able to share in some experiences beyond my own production’s little circle.  The Book of Will opening was historic and emotional.  It was great to witness.  On the Sunday morning the five remaining Assistant Directors got together to brunch and talk as a group for the first time.  That too felt important, and I wished we had done it more often.  At the big party I was able to cut a rug and celebrate with most of my fellow FAIR cohort.  And what I realized over the last few days there is that OSF (for me) isn’t one big family, it’s a collection of several small families (or perhaps its several branches of a big family tree).  Either way it was important for me to connect with all the various folks before I left so that I could have a sense of closure (for now) and to raise a glass to all of our various accomplishments.  I do hope to work at OSF again (one day directing a production), but regardless of that, I’m just thrilled to have made my creative family tree bigger.

“We have now had a real audience!” from Maggie Monhan

In Assistantship, Directing, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on June 15, 2018 at 5:54 AM

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We have now had a real audience! A generous and nearly full house greeted the actors with laughs, tears, and even hissing (apparently many of them have attended The Theatre in England?). I know that the actors needed the affirmation and energy of people who had not been sitting behind the table for the entire process. 
Having an audience always clarifies the true strengths and weaknesses of a production, and that conventional wisdom (to directors, anyway) applies to Love’s in particular. The story arc of the lords has responded very well to having an audience, which leads to even more joyful raucousness in their performances.

“Light Walkers” from Michael Scholar, Jr.

In Assistantship, Directing, Lighting, Lighting Design, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on June 11, 2018 at 6:04 AM

IMG_9618One duty the Assistant Directors have is to stay in the theatre with the Lighting Designer and work with “light walkers” until 2:30AM in the morning several times over the tech period after everyone else has gone home.  Its just a few folks behind the lighting boards on head set, me with my script, typing up notes from the previous dress rehearsal, and two surprisingly happy volunteers.  OSF seems to have a plethora of volunteers who are willing to do almost anything to help the festival out even super late at night.  Two chipper senior citizens come down to the Elizabethan Theatre at midnight to start their shift in heavy coats (as it gets cold in there at night) for the most thankless of jobs: standing or sitting on stage while the lights get adjusted.  The volunteers I was lucky enough to work with all had great attitudes about it and had fun amongst themselves despite me only really interacting with them to tell them where to stand.  I asked a gray haired waif to stand up on the balcony where Juliet will deliver her most famous of speeches the following evening, and placed bulldog of man down below by the heavens columns looking up as Romeo does.  They had so much fun playing the young lovers even for an audience of none, that I began to think there may be a concept production of this love story waiting to happen.

“Riotous and Freewheeling” from Maggie Monahan

In Assistantship, Directing, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on June 8, 2018 at 6:32 AM
V0vbH3qwQYyYaXzgckKfjA_thumb_14b6Now that our first block of tech is complete, I feel that I am becoming more of a resource for designers, actors, and especially the ASM, my rehearsal buddy, TaiReikca. Because I can speak to the artistic intention of different moments and to the blocking, I can serve as an additional point person when Amanda is occupied. Since she is co-composing and music directing the show in addition to directing it, her time and brainspace while in tech are precious commodities! After seeing the design elements in the first act be fleshed out onstage, I am looking forward to nuancing its scenes with more detailed scene work than we have been able to do thus far.
The entire process has been very process-based, and accordingly ideas have been explored and changed and discarded since we began rehearsal. Now that the shape of the first act is set, we can more confidently delve into the second act beyond the basics. I have been waiting to get to my favorite segment of the play – the escalation from the terrible Nine Worthies pageant, to the Princess learning of her father’s death, to the resolution of the love-war in a kind of non-resolution. For better or for worse, I am drawn artistically to these moments of darkness and ambiguity. The second act, in this cutting and particularly in this production, is an uncomfortable distortion of the glee and humor that populate the first act. The princesses, high on liberation from the responsibility and gendered conventions of wooing back in France, unintentionally grow cruel and insensitive. They break the lords’s vulnerable hearts in “mocking merriment”. Reality, grief, and the need to mature hit them all, regardless of age or status, like a brick wall. Our process for the first act was as riotous and freewheeling as the content, and I think that the process for second act will more closely mirror the deliberate sobriety of its content.

“At long last” from Maggie Monahan

In Assistantship, Directing, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on May 28, 2018 at 8:06 AM

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In the last week, the music for the end of the show was completed and has been distributed to the cast, band, designers, and technicians as needed. I have developed a fabulous accordion folder of all our music charts and a collection of rehearsal recordings of the band. The music in the show is quite good, and should receive a more professional recording than I am able to provide. I also think the show should transfer and subsequently replace the Friedman musical adaptation in the canon as it is more musically and stylistically complex. That said, I might be a tad biased.
We have staged the full show and have completed our second tech block! I think that teching the second act has clarified much of the storytelling and viewing the act with the design has allowed those in the audience to more fully understand what this production is doing and trying to say. One design assistant, who had previously confided in me that she “didn’t really get it”, told me that seeing the trajectory of the second act made her understand the story as a whole much better. We managed to tech through the first half of the final song. Once we are able to complete the final minute of the show with tech, I will be able to release the emotion that builds up in the scene before (several actors and I cried during staging). Get ready for tears (and ~rain~) to fall, y’all!
 
The sky clears after rain

“Seeing Shows” from Michael Scholar Jr.

In Assistantship, Directing, Producing, Uncategorized on May 25, 2018 at 7:44 AM

IMG_8927This week I finally managed to see the last of the six shows currently running at OSF.  On Sunday night I saw Sense and Sensibility.  I should start out by saying I’m not a huge Jane Austin fan.  The idiosyncrasies of privileged English Regent society life doesn’t really interest me, but I have to say I was moved by this production in a way I didn’t expect.  When Elinor finally lets her emotions have the better of her, I too cried with a great release.  The production isn’t perfect, but what this festival has shown me time and time again over this season (and seasons past), is that OSF produces work at an exceptional level.  The actors are some of the finest in the country, delivering nuanced and powerful performances, that are both technically sharp and emotionally engaged.  The directors and the creative teams hired are working at such a proficient level that all the work I’ve seen is rigorous and intentional.  Sure, I would make different choices in some instances, and I have questions as to why certain decisions were made, but I know when I see a show at OSF I’m going to be watching a piece that a team has thoughtfully put together over a relatively long development period.  This place really is quite special, and I count myself lucky to be here.  I’m looking forward to seeing the three shows in the Elizabethan once they are fully realized (including R&J which I’m working on), and wonder if I’ll be able to make it back later in the season to see the last two shows in the Thomas Theatre.

“Put me in coach” from Derek Kolluri

In Directing, Producing, Shakespeare, Uncategorized, Video Projections on May 14, 2018 at 5:18 AM

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14 Days in and I’ve had 5 rehearsals for Book of Will. Seems to be common for this time slot. No matter. The cast and  creative and production teams are more than capable of making it happen. 

I have taken on the task of spearheading an essential video component for the piece. There is a transition from the live, spoken word of the play to a digital world that opens up to a cacophony of Shakespeare’s worlds. I want to make sure the transition catches the same dramaturgical arc as the play itself. Meeting this week with the Creative team to start formalizing the structure of this, and looking forward to it. 

In the free time I have, I am reaching out to as many people as will meet me as possible. This has lead to a few opportunities to work on projects outside the scope of AD’ing Book of Will. I was asked to creatively consult on Natural Shocks (another Lauren Gunderson piece). It’s good to be working in these rooms. I always feel most alive working on a show. I am grateful. 

This week, I look forward to finding more ways to engage with projects. Put me in coach. I’m ready.

“Queen of the Spreadsheets” from Maggie B. Monahan

In Directing, Music, Shakespeare, Uncategorized on May 11, 2018 at 6:00 AM

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Oh, what a difference a week makes – I am exhausted! This week we had 40 hours of rehearsal between primary and secondary schedules, about half of which were band rehearsals, in addition to the other ~20 hours of. I think that my role as an assistant director for Love’s stands alone among other experiences I have had and those of the other FAIR ADs right now. I am assisting a director/music director/composer who is reconceiving the existing show as a play with music punctuated by brief songlets and instrumentation provided by an onstage band composed of actors playing roles in the narrative of the show as well. This makes for many moving parts being managed by one person – and I am assisting on all of those moving parts.

Now I know what being a music assistant is like, and, boy, is there a learning curve. I have not worked in music for more than a few months since I was a freshman in college. Getting to be a part of this very generative and collaborative music-making process has been beautiful, but I have administrative and organizational tasks that I might not be as good at! I am not a stage manager for a reason, but since I know that so many of the rooms I want to be in could use a young eager PA or script assistant or director’s personal assistant, these are skills I want to hone. I will be the queen of the spreadsheets about music writing by the end of this process if it is the last thing I do!

“The Elizabethan” from Michael Scholar Jr.

In Assistantship, Directing, Uncategorized on May 4, 2018 at 6:03 AM

IMG_8899This week we got to work in the Elizabethan Theatre for the first time.  It was magical.  This space holds not only the memories of past OSF performances, but as it is modeled after historical spaces that Shakespeare himself originally performed in, this space is also haunted by ghosts that are centuries old and come from across the pond.  This is the kind of space that Romeo and Juliet was intended to be performed in.  The so-called “balcony scene” is only a balcony scene because that’s how it was originally staged, and we have been trying to find our own “inner-above” in non-Elizabethan spaces ever since.  In fact, there is no mention at all of a balcony in the text between the two star crossed lovers in this iconic wooing scene; only a mention of a high orchard wall.  What keeps the lovers from just devouring each other on first sight when they are left alone?  The space and the distance of the Elizabethan Theatre’s balcony.  A balcony so famous we all know it without even knowing where it comes from (or that the scene doesn’t even mention it).  That of course was the scene we ventured out of the rehearsal hall to work in the space.  It revealed so much about how presentational and large-in-scale this most of intimate love scenes is in the staging of it.  This is one of the main reasons I’m here.  To get to work in America’s First Elizabethan Theatre.  I wonder how many more there actually are?  Are there any in Canada?  Who is performing in them?  And what other secrets in Shakespeare’s text can be unlocked by using the Elizabethan key?

 

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