It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I appreciate the encouragement from Manju and Kathryn and others on getting back on to this.
Ultimately they’re pushing me me in this way for my benefit, not for them. I feel like I’m a person who often spurned potential teachers and has gone on to inadvertently develop some toxic habits. There’s an imaginary pressure to perfect all visible product which starts to create an internal resistance.
We’re halfway through the run of Iphigenia Crash Land Falls On The Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable) by Caridad Svich at Nightlight in Carrboro.
We’re filling the house with people, building up a cocoon of a world each night and breaking it down.
I would have stripped down the stage further by the end. In the final image, she’s alone on stage and lit by the grassy projection, her face staring straight ahead above her. Caitlin created this initially, and Emily and I gave assent. Later we reconsidered–I think I would have liked to have her lit by a separate light and to remove the screens behind her. Leave the stage blacker. Set the screen off to the side with the projection on it, but when you look at Iphigenia, you’ll just see her, simply, lit under a lone warm light, and alone.
Emily and I realized that we both wanted the same goal. A simpler scene, and for Iphigenia to be more alone on stage. It was the night before we opened though, and Caitlin liked the projection on her and I deferred. We kept it as it was. This wasn’t a tragedy by any means, it still works. It’s all been well received.
I’m tentative to say that I directed it. I’m tentative to say all sorts of things.
Emily and I are codirectors, is where this has ultimately landed. It’s been a great balance and a good working rhythm that we’ve found. I’m fully happy with it, but there’s certainly a fear that flickers there–what if people just think that she had to step up because I couldn’t handle it? This group hasn’t been like that, though. They’re very fun, very welcoming, with a warm and exciting energy when we’re at work. We’re not getting paid, none of us are (we often mention). I want to send them all an email this week to find their availability through the end of 2013. How can we work again like this? How soon can we launch another show?
I want to be someone who gets things done. Who doesn’t protect them, but makes them and improves them recklessly each day. Some days I am. Sometimes for weeks at a time. Sometimes new words crumble off of these encrusted thoughts and stories that form and fall like rain. I want to be making them each day, a less protected product. Something sharp and with raw edges as I shape it, focused and unattached. And while I might have some ineffectual moments, I’ve had stronger points too. We created this whole plan to stage the first two and a half scenes out in the back before bringing people in through the alley covered in ivy. I think this would have been beautiful and unusual and I bragged that we were going to use the space in ways no one had done before. But we realized not long ago that the fans and equipment on the rooftops were too much to handle. Yes some of us could be heard over it, but even for us, it’d become a scene about projection. As a group, we’re operating well. Creating new changes and images every day, and then breaking them open.
This show grows more each day further from what I once wanted it to be into what it is meant to be. I lose sight of the story, and I’m pulling my focus in tight to specific images. I’d originally had a number of more interactive moments, movement sequences, and split focus moments in mind, but now I’ve realized how intentionally it was written (of course) and how necessary the components and sequencing are. I see how much of it is a strong narrative, rather than just a strange world for the audience to be invited into. (Ours is both, hopefully.)
It’s always much easier as an actor. It’s really a lovely structure that I’ve gotten comfortable with, to be able to do anything that I think the character wants to do. And I am the character. Someone else will always be there with a confident word to reel me back in when I go of the rails. I’m only now starting to give myself the same freedom in directing and writing that others help facilitate for me.
In 2009, I had the privilege of working with Dana Marks and company to create A Dog From Hell.
The show turned out well. I don’t think all shows are simply destined to go well, or that all doubts are unfounded.
But I would suggest that any creative process that ventures into interesting territory comes with heavy doubts along the way. Or perhaps this is just a function of me and where I am in my growth as a maker. Just a passing cloud that the kids who listened to teachers might have moved through years ago.
Below I’ve included something I wrote while we were mid process of A Dog From Hell.
i act optimistic, but i have deep doubts.
i don’t know that this show is what we want it to be.
we rushed ourselves into this, shouldn’t we reconsider?
maybe if we had more time, called it a workshop,
didn’t charge people, gave out free drinks? there was
a certain innocence, a kind of frantic energy that drove us
in the beginning. like standing at the coast of an unknown continent
(except we’re children, not cortes, and we’re dancing, not pillaging.)
those fleeting sparks are so hard to harness–
the way that we both looked at each other,
the thrill of when we lifted him,
we all welled up with laughter,
we understood our place in this.
i’m not sure the show as it stands, serves
the actors, characters, source material, principles, or any potential audience.
i have serious doubts, but i usually do. we either have time or we don’t.
i wouldn’t dream of saying half the things i think.
these productions are such delicate machines.
admittedly we err by undertaking this in its present form,
but such is the nature of theater. it’s skydiving.