Friday, August 22, 2008

Real-Life Backstage Drama!

Whew! What a bizarre and amazing two weeks (I can't believe it's been two weeks). I've just been getting home from rehearsals so late and have had so much to do, I was just too tired to blog.
"Skin of Our Teeth" is certainly a daunting show to direct, and I'm still getting to know most of the members of my cast and finding out how soon I can start pushing them to literally play. I do know all of their names already, though. The two I do know well, are holding back, waiting for almost everyone else to catch up. My leading man is fun and good and cuts quite a figure on stage. He's a good match for his co-star in many ways. And his co-star is the single best and most dedicated actress I know, and my personal longest and dearest friend, Vera Charles... oh. No, not really. But she really is all of those things, and her interpretation is based a lot on her own mother, or at least infusing her mother's values into the character. Their children are both terrific. One I know well and love, and the other I met just last January and she's adorable. When the scripts go away, I am going to have pure "steam-generated" electricity (ha!).
Now, I suppose, is the time to address the true-life backstage drama that has had me sleepless all week. My leading lady was having some issues with the show. She didn't understand it and she didn't trust me to enlighten her sufficiently and get her to where she needed to go with the role. On the second rehearsal of the second week, no Sabina. She called no one. She emailed no one. She didn't answer her phone. We left several messages. I went home and wrote a very sweet email, begging her to call me. She spoke with the producer briefly. "I can't talk right now, I'm at work. Can I call you at lunch?" She never called. The next night was a "family" meeting with the 5 main characters and myself - basically, a table session over drinks. We met at 8:00 at a local bar/restaurant - got a quiet table on the patio. 8:08. No Sabina, but instead, a wonderful surprise. My dedicated "Henry" shows up, unexpectedly. The project he had been asked to take part in had fallen through and he was now available. He could have stayed home, but he came to play instead and he gets many gold stars. But Sabina is no where to be seen. All was far from lost, because before the family meeting, I met with the producer and our contingency plans we're identical. The family meeting was pure brill and we all get it and all agree about how they seem to relate to one another, and then we had another hour or so of just BS that went all over the place. We laughed a lot and left with a feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie. But still no Sabina!
At noon the next day (yesterday), I make a final decision to execute "Plan A" and give the role to another actress in the show. The young lady accepted, very happily and and we move on. The new Sabina, (that being the only time she will ever be referred to as 'new') is a little spitfire and will bring an entirely new dynamic to the role that should be very exciting. The former Sabina finally emailed a rambling and apologetic ("I'm soooooooo sorry and sooooooooo embarrassed... Please don't hate me...") email about her boyfriend and some other nonsense I didn't understand. I wrote a pleasant, but unapologetic email, explaining that she had let me down and had been replaced. That was at 1:00 AM this morning. Haven't heard another blessed thing. But, all is well and we go on. So, hopefully that is the end of the first and only episode of "Real-Life Backstage Drama!"
Many of the ensemble are very young (younger than I was when I first read and loved this play), and they don't get it yet. They don't get it's significance, I think. They still see something old and quaint, rather than groundbreaking. As they see the tech stuff come together, they'll start to get excited. It is going to be fucking cool to look at, if nothing else. But I am so very confident that it can be so much more. I sent them all links to "Brass Goggles," one of the best Steam Punk blogs on the web: , and several of them came up to me and said, "Oh, I get it now. I loved such and such..." "That elephant was so cool, I understand what our Mammoth puppet will sort of look like, now" (I'm paraphrasing here, but it was good to see them starting to figure why I'm doing it the way I'm doing it).
Breakfast meeting/paper tech tomorrow with my tech director (who is also a dear friend and Mrs. A's real-life hubby). I am excited to getting my hands working and building some props and jewelry and the TD tells me he has some art-students as staff whose eyes went wide when he mentioned "Steam Punk," so they can build all sorts of toys for us, too. I do need to get into both prop resources and both costume resources, soon. This week for at least one of each. After breakfast, I am going "parts" shopping!
Until next time...

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