Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm in Salt Lake at the moment. As you may recall, I'm up here with one franctic week to rehearse and perform our play for SLAC. On Monday, Heidi, Katharine, Andy, Melissa, and I met for the first time since our quick little preliminary read-through in May. We had left that read-through with the expectations to all come back memorized. And we were close! Really, given the amount and nature of the texts, I think we did pretty darn well. Monday was a bit rusty, but Heidi and I spent a few hours running parts with each other that night. We spent most of Tuesday's rehearsal drilling ourselves on the most cumbersome pieces, and it all seems to be sticking. Even my freakin' long "Lorenzo" piece. I can complain about it since I wrote it, right?

So, we're three rehearsals into the thing, and it's going really, really well. In fact, we did a full run-through of the play for the second half of rehearsal today and we a) were all off-book except for a very little bit at the very end and b) shaved 24 minutes off of our last run time, putting our show at 104 minutes. To me, 90 minutes is ideal, 100 is totally liveable. So I'm pleased!

We're figuring things out - how to create a show with no budget whatsoever (seriously, zero. Heidi's been generously providing snacks for everyone, Melissa brought bottled water from her own supply, and I spent $4 on books yesterday for props, all out of our pockets. I know! 4 whole bucks!), how to run rehearsals without an assistant director or any technical crew, how to study and rehearse such long monologues, and so on.

We're figuring out our roles, too. I'm finding it hard to take off the director and the playwright hats and be only an actor. Melissa (our director) keeps saying things along the lines of "Amanda with her extensive acting background..." and I keep wanting to clarify that um, no. I don't have an extensive acting background. I'm a director, which is very, very different. For example, a director is allowed to snap her fingers and swear and stomp her foot when she forgets something, while I got chastised today for doing that whenever I forgot a line.

It's a good exercise for me in a lot of ways -
1) I'm getting really good experience memorizing, which will help me help my speech class this fall,
2) I'm watching a director from the perspective of an actor, and I'm making notes to myself about new things to try or new ways to approach directing,
3) I'm learning to let go of the play as its writer and let it be on its own,
4) But at the same time, I'm getting a lot of validation for how good it is. I'm not saying that to be egotistical; instead, it's an acknowledgement of the fact that Heidi and I have been writing this thing for five years, and that's a lot of time to spend editing and tightening a text - it's polished, and it works.
5) I'm also working not being in control of everything. I sometimes still respond to suggestions from the others with visceral, gut reactions (which are not at all subtle) when I don't agree with what they're suggesting. I'm trying not to do that, and I'm slowly getting better at it. At least, I'm getting quieter at it. The others now usually only notice if they're looking at me, since I'm not so good yet at controlling my face when I really don't agree with something. Okay, I still suck at not being in control. But I am trying!

I certainly don't envy Melissa her job - heck, if I had to direct someone who was the playwright of the piece AND was a theater director herself, I would be a whole lot more nervous and (therefore) probably a lot less gracious than Melissa is. But, like I said, I'm working on letting go of certain things, and that's a good exercise for me. And, really, I'm very lucky to be able to work with this group - they're a talented, gracious, fun group of people, and I'm really enjoying myself.

I came up here thinking about how nice it is to have a whole week in SLC this time, that I'll have lots of time to see people and get things done. I found instead that my time filled up very quickly. It'll be a crazy, crammed-in week; but it'll be fun.

Oh, and apparently I'm missing all of the weather fun in Denver this week. I'm hoping the storm stayed north of my place so I don't come back to a bunch of broken windows.

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