my_window_seat: (Default)
It looks like I'm going to start giving my Uber Boss's kid private acting lessons.

This will involve a lot of pondering. 

My focus has been on directing and teaching, and working with actors one-on-one as needed.   I've only given one professional private coaching session, outside the context of a specific show, to one of my previous class students for her film audition for "True Grit".  Yeah, that movie.  Her parents "are friends with the Cohen's" so I think there was a little bit of an assumption that she was a shoe-in - which she was, most certainly, not.  Nice kid, but not suited for dramatic roles, also, way overly pretty-girly for the character.  But you never know what a director's 'vision' is, it's always worth taking the chance - and $100 is $100 bucks.   They got their audition tape, I got my check, and everything is a learning experience.

But I'm used to working on the principal that one of the core elements of theatre is community.  You're only as good as what you contribute to the show, not what you grab for yourself.  An especially 'talented' actor can actually ruin a show if he stands out so much that everything else suffers by comparison.  Not that some ships aren't destined to sink, no matter what - but the ultimate goal shouldn't be to steal the scene, but be a part of the whole, and put as much effort into the show and your fellow actors as you do your own performance.

I'm used to teaching globally, not locally.  Ha. ha.

So this is going to be an adventure.

As a director I give all of my actor's individual coaching on their part of a full performance - I guess this is now my opportunity to expand on that.  Uh, except the part where it's part of, you know - a whole show. 



Things to think about.

First thing that comes to mind tonight:

One of the most important things about acting is no different from 'real life' - it's all about choices.  It's about commitment, and it's about follow-through.  In acting, you get a distinct advantage in that you get do-overs, and you have the opportunity to take enormous risks and follow as many paths as you want, and experience as many different 'the ends' as time (and patience) allow for, but -

It's not about 'pretending'. It's not just about 'reacting'.  When an actor walks across a stage, the mediocre performer does it because it says so in the stage directions or the director tells them to.  The real actor has a reason for their cross, and that horribly abused phrase, "But what's my motivation?" is a valid one - don't just follow directions - make decisions - make choices - make a commitment to what you're about to do - and follow through

The boss's daughter is a mayfly, as in she has the attention span of.  She's used to being in the chorus, where the goal is to look as much like everyone else as possible.  'Making choices' in this context is the job of the director/musical director/choreographer and the performer's role is to follow directions.  Your 'motivation' better be to be in synch, in line and on time - and yeah, you'd better follow-through, because you seriously do not want to get a gaggle of dancers pissed at you. 

This is her current comfort zone.  Does she want to move forward as an individual, or is it really her mom that wants it for her?  Some from Column A, some from Column B?

I think she's still waffling about what she wants as a performer.  This will be a good opportunity for her to find out.


This is going to be an interesting experience.

Also, I have to decide on what to charge.  My going rate for individual coaching is $50 an hour, which was minimum market value a few years ago, and may actually be slightly below now.  Then again, my class rate was $25 per class.  Talking money with my boss is going to be really, really weird.  Also, because we're looking at an extended series of sessions, it seems like there should be a 'bulk rate' discount - or maybe not.  Hum.  I think the first thing will be to determine whether we should do a 6, 8 or 12 week series.  6 would be the bare minimum, and I personally don't like to cram things in that tight - 8 would be okay - 12 would be decent.  12 weeks at one hour each would be $600 - I'd have to be damn sure I'd be giving value for money for that amount.  Actually, that's not asking too much when I think about it, because lesson planning for a group takes less prep, because working with more people at once means less time to get through "x" amount of material.  One-on-one means more material, which means more prep, so - I guess $50 a pop really is fair considering that, knowing me, by the time I get through outlining the course and each individual session, I'll probably only be making some dumb-ass thing like $2.50 an hour. 

Would be a damn sight more satisfying $2.50 than what I make each hour at my day job, though.

Choices.  Commitment.  Follow-through.


So now to give my boss a choice - how much do you want to commit to your kid's ability to learn follow-through?



my_window_seat: (Default)
It's maybe a little pathetic, but I'm trying to think of the points at which things were working with that theatre company.

When I was being invited to board meetings.
When board members were asking me to move up to the frakkin' mountains so that I could be more involved with them.
When they were offering to drive me to rental properties so that I would move up there and work with them more.

When I get home tonight -
from teaching the for the company that is now ditching me -
because yeah, I have another month's worth of classes to complete for the company that now can't wait to get quit of me, and me them -

I'm going to have to start thinking about things I've done right.
So that I can start thinking about how to get back on a successful streak.

This ongoing downhill slide is really chapping my ass.

my_window_seat: (Average Day)
I am... tired of this week.

I've just been informed that I won't be teaching the summer program for the mountain theatre company.  That they're moving from the schedule that we had previously agreed on - and which was exactly the same schedule as last year - to a time that they are clearly aware that I am not available.  Because I told them that I was not available.

I am told that one reason is because they feel that it would fit in better with the vacation schedules of families in their community.
That seems valid and logical.

I am also told that it is because they want to "rotate their teachers" and get in some "fresh new faces".
Despite the fact that this is exactly the opposite approach taken by, oh, every other educational theatre company I've ever worked with.
Because retention of instructors, and building a solid reputation based on experience and familiarity is, in other places, the way things are generally done.

Okay then.
You go, mavericks.
Tally ho, and godspeed.

Personal feelings aside -

Is for the best.

It feels like shit, but really - it is for the best.

I have had it with these people, and they have had it with me.
I am tired of the lack of support and communication and constant mixed signals -
And my frustration with them, that at times I have allowed to affect my professional interactions, has left them unsatisfied with me.

Not that they have the balls to say so, but there it is.

Sucks, but valid.
They are tap-dancing around that issue, but come on, people - don't bullshit me.
I've been honest with them - and unfortunately, sometimes to the point of being abrasively honest, which is unprofessional and is something that I have to stop just taking retroactive responsibility for, but actively CHANGE, pre-emptively, goddamnit -

It would be nice if I could get the same from them.
A lot to ask for, apparently.

Even if it isn't pleasant to hear negative feedback, I'd rather have it, delivered HONESTLY, than get sandbagged with evasions and underhanded double-dealings.

I am also told that part of this decision is being made so that their 'new' summer program will allow for a production that can be mounted on an actual stage (instead of the elementary school cafeteria platform that I was given to work with last year), with lights, sound, yadda yadda - a much more 'authentic' theatre experience.

That is cool.
That is awesome.

And I wish them luck with that, if they're only planning to have one teacher and two high school kids as staff, which is what I was working with last year.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but I'll take my hat off to the person who can do it - hell, I'll give them my hat, and then ask for their autograph, because anyone who can pull that off will be a goddamn superhero.  I believe there's probably someone who exists who can do it - I personally don't happen to know them, but you know, theatre is magic.  Anything's possible.

I am also told that part of the reason for doing this is specifically because some of the parents who had had their children in my classes before were not cast in the Christmas production.  They are unhappy.  This would allow them to get their kids on stage and appease all the hurt feelings over their disappointment.

This is also a decision that I agree with.

Not the bullshit about whiny parents whose speshul snowflakes didn't make it into the professional-level show that they flat-out weren't ready to be in - that I had over 40 kids audition for, and from whom I chose the best people for the parts available, based on the idea that if we are having an audience paying $15 for a fucking ticket, they deserve to get the best fucking value for their dollar that I can provide  -

Dear Parents -

Not getting into every show that you audition for is PART OF THE THEATRE EXPERIENCE.  It is, in fact the MAJORITY of the theatre experience.  Deal with it or GTFO.


That being said -
If you want to get your kid on stage, regardless of their current level of experience and readiness - a summer camp production, where they are given the training they need, in a fun atmosphere and without the pressures involved in I say again a professional-level show -

Then this is exactly the way to do it.

Good thinking, carry on.
I wish them all the best.

In the final analysis, again, this is all for the best.  Again, feels like shit, but hey - THAT'S PART OF THE THEATRE EXPERIENCE.
Deal with it or GTFO.

I allowed myself to get talked back into teaching this session's classes, even though I didn't want to do it, after the fall-out from the Christmas show experience.  This will conclude my interaction with this company, and that's exactly as it should be. 

They made noises about wanting to "rotate me back in in a few years!" (?!?!) - but
Um, yeah. 
Thanks folks. 
We're done here.

I'll feel better about it later.

One of these days.


my_window_seat: (Default)
(Embedding has been disabled for these videos, but you can click on the links to go directly to the clips on YouTube)

Just watched Stephen Sondheim's Company for the first time tonight - the 1996 production taped live in The Donmar Warehouse.

It's a surprisingly dark show, compared with Sondheim's other work - dark in a very different way from Sweeney Todd altogether.  Written  in the late 60's and first produced in 1969, Company was written as a musical that tied together 7 one-acts about a series of married couples and their one single friend, Bobby.  It's one of the very first non-linear musicals ever written, a structure that suits the subject matter very well.  As a reflection of the time at which it was written, it features the shifting attitudes about relationships and, as Sondheim himself points out in an interview, the dissolution of marriage as an inviolate institution, and growing fear of commitment in society.

Yeah.  It definitely has its funny moments ("Not Getting Married" being one of my favorites, and an Olympian test of any performer's comic timing and ability to sing without a break or breath for UNGODLY lengths of time), but even though it's billed as such, in my opinion it's really not by any stretch a musical "comedy".  The show as a unit revolves around Bobby, the unmarried friend, and his clinical perspective of the clockwork of his friends' relationships.  And as a single person myself, I've seen a lot of the things that Bobby sees - the frightening aspects of a relationship - when two people are combined so closely that they sometimes turn on each other and try to strip away their own reflections - the misunderstandings based on a view of another person held so tightly and without distance that disallow the recognition of growth or change - the caustic combination of familiarity and longevity that can sometimes lead to loathing -

And Bobby resists.  All his friends, feeling the need to justify their own positions, try to persuade him, fix him up with partners, convince him that what he needs is to find the same kind of companionship that he sees tearing them apart -

And at the same time, he feels the same pressure that they've succumbed to.  This would be where the show does show some of its own age, as it reflects a societal imperative toward coupling that isn't as much a part of the current collective conscious - but that will always, to some degree, remain true.

And between these two urges - to deny or to acquiesce - the final number of Act I is Bobby's both cynical and naive idea of the 'perfect' relationship - a sandblasted perspective of a relationship so free of expectations it hardly seems to have sufficient skeletal supports to remain upright  - "Marry Me A Little"

The softest kind of pressure never relents though, does it?

There must be something to it, musn't there?  Beyond the biological imperative.  The social insistences.  If marriage is an institution so conclusively proven to be a hit-or-miss proposition, such an iffy bet, a social experiment so rarely destined for success -

Still, it must succeed often enough for it to continue.

And beyond the stinging blows that are so often landed in what is supposed to be the softest of partnerships, the exchange of words so sharp they leave very real scars -

There has to be a reason that people keep doing it.
Clinging together, despite the need to sometimes claw each other apart.

The need to find something beyond the self to live for.

The central device behind the show is a surprise birthday party arranged by the couples for Bobby, and their one desire for him, their friend, is that he make a wish.  In the first act, through the wonders of stage magic (read: the birthday cake prop complete with relighting birthday candles that must have necessitated keeping the Fire Marshall's phone number on speed dial throughout the show), Bobby first protests that he doesn't have a wish to make - and then he discovers that he, in fact, can't blow the candles out at all.

And in the second act, the idea emerges, just barely recognizable, that even with all the flaws of this over-idealized state - there are, indeed reasons just under the surface.  That yes, the ideal is an illusion - but the idea of - wanting - still has its place.

It's not perfect.  Nothing ever is.

The idea of knowing someone completely is an illusion.
Wanting to is not.

Viewing another person always as a flawless artifact, an unchanging and unmarred archetype, is impossible.
Seeing them at their worst, with their jagged edges and unfilled needs and unhealable wounds -  and wanting them anyway -  is not.

Musicals beg for resolution.  We want to see our characters go on a journey.  We want to care about what happens to them, and to do that, we have to see them grow.  Or at least show the signs of wanting the same for themselves.

At the end of the show, after a night of heavy drinking, Bobby examines all the evidence.  After all that he's seen - the wounding and comforting, the distancing and reunion, he asks himself what about all of it could possibly be worth all of this -

"What do you get?"

He asks himself, and then he answers.

At the end of the show, Bobby is finally able to blow out his candles.  To finally have, and admit to making a wish.  Bobby closes the show by wanting what we all must want, in order to survive - the idea of Being Alive.

Some would argue that wanting a relationship in order to feel complete is just as much an illusion as the ideal of The Perfect Marriage.   These days, most would.  This again is where this show survives as a snapshot of another era - one that no longer espouses a spouse as the magic token for completion, but that still recognizes the desire for a sense of completion found only in union with another person.

That's not the fashion these days. 

And while it's fair to say that having a healthy self-esteem, being able to be content in solitude, not needing a relationship to fend off lonliness - these are all valid and in fact signs that our society has progressed beyond a model that views every single person as somehow incomplete.

But there must be something to it, mustn't there?
The idea that we still need - to want.
Something outside ourselves.

There must be something to it - the willingness to sacrifice some personal freedoms in service of something that can offer it's own rewards in their place. 

To reach something like a pinnacle of attainment, there has to be a focus on something just out of reach.
There has to be a desire for something just beyond.
Something a little impossible.
And somehow still necessary.

There must be something to it, mustn't there?

my_window_seat: (Default)
Deserving of note - Friday was one of the first days in a very long time that I had an awesome subbing experience.  Class of 5th graders who obviously had an exceptional teacher and a school that was supportive of same - something that seems to be the exception rather than the rule, but damn the negativity - just the fact that such exists at all, even if it is rare, gives me some hope that education, in its best and brightest form, still exists.  Yay, verily.

Also, got this in my e-mail from the playwright of the show I just directed.  Boggle with me if you will:

Friday, January 9, 2009 7:57 PM
From:  "Malcolm "
To:  ~D~
SUBJECT Coyote and friends

Hi ~D~,
Happy 2009!  I just got back from a wonderful week in Mexico with my family, so I am definitely liking the way the new year is starting out.
I'm still feeding off the warm memories of seeing Coyote and meeting you all.  I really loved your production.  I would love to put some photos up on my website (unfortunately, I don't have any photos.)  My website is a homemade affair, and I keep intending to upgrade and enhance it, and try to get the play out to a wider audience.  I would love to write about some of the things you did with the show, and I'd even love to put the version of the song that the girl sang rather than as a duet between Young Scrooge and Lupe as I had written it.  I think I like it better the way you did it.  What do you think?  Would you mind if I included some stuff like that in my website?
I hope you are doing well and working on something wonderful.  I do think you should check out Paul Sills' Story Theatre.  It's a lot of fun to direct and would be great with all those young actors.
Hope your holidays were grand!

Wow.  Just - wow.  And may I say - wow?

Rounding off the awesome of Friday, got to see Repo - the Genetic Opera on the big screen.  While there was an unfortunate concentration of STUPID in the audience (seriously, who doesn't know basic movie etiquette - WHISPER if you have something to say, you effing morons...!), it was bizarre and well worth the price of admission.  I do think the trailer is somewhat misleading, as despite the title, it lead me to believe it was a musical, and it took a little while to get feel for the format, which is unapologetically rock OPERA.  You either go with it where it's going with this understanding, or it will make you miserable (to be fair, I think this is part of what lead to the stupid across the aisle, so there's that).  Once I snapped to this it was actually really interesting to see what they would do with it next,and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

So, yeah.  Friday.  Neat.  :-)

my_window_seat: (Frances Farmer)
A truism not limited to but particularly relevant in theatre is, "it's not what you know, it's who you know."

Today is one of those bizarre and lovely days in which the truism worked for me, rather than against me.

I just got picked up by a private academy for their summer drama program, based specifically on the recommendation of someone I've worked with several times over the last few years.  His recommendation was so strong (and my resume is apparently finally decently stocked enough) that I was hired on the spot, rather than going through the standard lengthy hiring process.

This program also happens to dovetail perfectly with my summer program up in the mountains.
So that I am now completely covered for the summer.
And it isn't even Christmas yet.

I celebrated with a theatre buddy by going out to sushi and praising the pseudo-gods of good reputation and borderline nepotism.

Fuck yeah, bitches.
Fuck YEAH.

my_window_seat: (Default)
For the first time in my life, I can honestly say I believe in Christmas miracles.

I have worked on a lot of shows.  Nearly a decade's worth.  I've worked on shows that were in bad shape, and that pretty much sucked, and yeah, so there's that.

I haven't worked on  a show that was in as bad a shape as this one was.

And I have never seen such a complete and total 180 in a show from one day to the next.

Last night, we had nothing.  We had fuck all.  There was nothing there, and it was a complete disaster.

Between last night and tonight -
The parents got together and organized an additional 4 hour rehearsal with the kids today, before they come to their final dress rehearsal tonight. 

God bless parents.
Every one.

Ladies and Gentleman -

We have a show.

my_window_seat: (Default)

The show isn't even functional enough to be considered a train wreck.
I've been blamed by everyone for everything, because when you try to please everyone, you please exactly NO ONE.

We open tomorrow morning.

I've spent most of the day off and on crying - but in a functional way.  While working at the same time.  Because I have to have it completely out of my system in time to go to rehearsal, and deal with the shitstorm that is the complete failure that is the show.

I'll need time to sort this out later, when the fucking thing is closed.  Considering whether I really am right for this type of work.  Sort through all the bullshit, get to the root of the problems, take responsibility for what was my fault and separate my self-worth from the things that weren't my fault - and make a decision.

Just because you love something doesn't mean you are good at it.
Just because everything goes wrong, doesn't mean you are bad at it.

I'll have to look at all of this later to figure out where exactly the final tally lies.

At the moment, I could really use some positive vibes.  Some for me, and a lot more for my cast, because we're all committed to this and, when it all shakes down, they're the ones on stage.

So think happy thoughts for all of us if you will, please.

my_window_seat: (Default)
Holy Mother of Fuck.

The playwright of the show that I am directing is flying out from Los Angeles to see the show.


my_window_seat: (I am crushing your head)
I can't wait until this show closes.  It's a fucking parasite, and I am tired of opening e-mails or getting phone messages that routinely ask me to do more than I ever contracted to do or will in any way be compensated for.  I am sick and tired of feeling my blood pressure raise and seeing my hands shake because yet another person isn't doing their job or is just plain fucking MIA and I have to do their job on top of my own.

This isn't to say that there aren't good things about it.  Rehearsal-wise, it's a bit of a train wreck, but everyone's trying their best, and god bless 'em, I love my cast, every one.

But this fucking theatre company -

I fucking HATE this company.

Blow me, you bastards.

my_window_seat: (Default)
So it's five minutes before rehearsal -
And I still have no stage management "team."

So I call my stage manager.
He's still 20 minutes away from the rehearsal space.

Call the ASM From Hell.
Despite assuring me yesterday, after 90 minutes of free fucking COUNSELING -
She "doesn't know if she can continue" unless we "speak further about this" - it's "not a decision she can make after a brief conversation on the phone."


Let it suffice to say, there will be NO FURTHER CONVERSING.

They've been replaced by two very helpful moms whose kids are in the cast, and they can drop in to VISIT at rehearsals if they so choose.


Community Theatre.
FUCK these morons.
my_window_seat: (Dear God Make Everyone Die)
So, yeah - what I was raging about earlier -

Yesterday's read-through was awesome, with a side order of fantastic.  But there were a few snags, and today, I had to deal with all the fall-out.

First, I've spent the majority of this week - in between subbing and sewing orders - doing both my job as director and my stage manager's job, and a chunk of the producer's job, on top of concluding my afterschool program which included special end-of-class programs. 

So - I've been manning two phones at a time, negotiating with parents of kids who were cast and (worse) parents of kids who weren't cast (hint: do NOT argue with a director if you EVER want your kid to get in a show.  Director's talk to each other, bitch.  And if you are a pain in the ass, your kid will NEVER get cast by that director - or any other director that director talks to.  Word.), scrambling madly for adult actors to fill in my cast (I'm still short two men - oh, shut up...), communicating with my production staff, reinvisioning and flowcharting the entire fucking show from the ground up - plus extraneous real life business - getting the bills paid, trying to keep myself fed (I keep forgetting to eat) and in clean clothes (laundry don't do itself, dontcha know), dealing with medical stuff (back is fucked; need x-rays; can't get a doctor's appointment because they're entirely booked up for the month of November and won't even start scheduling December yet so I'm supposed to get x-rays AND my prescription renewed exactly how now...?!?!) -

So, yeah.  I'm stretched a little fucking thin right now.

So today - I get an e-mail from my assistant stage manager. 
Resigning from her position.
No explanation other than it's "not in her best interest" to continue in that capacity, yadda yadda.

No explanation.

In context:  my stage manager - is not a stage manager.  His "experience" a tech person in that capacity has been, no shit, flipping lights on and off for one show - house lights, not a light board - and doing some organizational help for an AA (yes, as in Alcoholics Anonymous) "theatre" group.  No idea what that entailed.

All I really know about this guy is that he's a very nice older man - and has thus far been completely and totally useless to me.

He forgot to show up at the first audition, and wasn't available for any of the others.
He scheduled a medical appointment for the first read-through, so he wasn't at the first rehearsal.
He hasn't helped in any way, shape or form with ANY of the organizational shit that are a REQUIREMENT of his position.

Every time I've tried - with much uncharacteristic patience and diplomacy - to explain the very simplest and most basic of stage managerial tasks to him, his eyes glaze over and he literally appears to leave his body. 

The ASM mentioned above does have stage management experience, and she's a very close friend of this guy.  She generously agreed to act as a mentor to him (his name's Bill), and has been filling in here and there with a few of the things that Bill's supposed to have been doing.  She was a life-saver at the one audition she came to, and at last night's rehearsal. 

She told me in confidence that Bill gets overwhelmed easily.  And that he's prone to migraines when stressed.
JUST what you want in a stage manager.

But, she said that she'd help train him, and help him get the hang of the job.  And because she seemed to be taking on more and more of the duties, I thought I'd be in good hands and that if we had to carry Bill's easily-stressed ass through the run of the show and work around him, at least it would get covered.


So I get this e-mail from the person I've been counting on to be my undercover stage manager, saying she's bailing from the show with no explanation. 

I figure it must be because she got overwhelmed and is realizing that the scope of what's being dumped on her is just too much.  I can understand that.  And because it wasn't what she signed on in the first place, I don't blame her a bit.

So I decide to give her a call and tell her I understand and thank her for all her hard work and wish her well.


What happens next is that I spend the next, no shit, hour and a half  talking this woman down from an emotional precipice.  Because, as it turns out, she's resigning - because of the casting accident I made with the two girls at the read through.

She's quitting - because of a mistake I made.  A mistake that I was in the process of rectifying, both during the read-through and after.  A mistake that the affected CHILDREN didn't have a problem with, but she apparently DID.

In all the confusion and in the middle of the hours and hours I've spent on the phone over the last week, I accidentally offered one part in the play - to two different girls.  And this mistake went undetected - until both girls were standing in front of me, at the read-through, scripts in hand, asking why BOTH of them were Belinda (the character).

I had to make an immediate judgment call, and that's exactly what I did.  I gave the part to one girl, and told the other girl that I was extremely sorry for the mistake that I'd made, and that I would rework some of the ensemble parts to put her back into the show.  I based my choice on who I gave the part to in that moment based on a) the younger of the two girls was physically better suited to the other kids that she would need to play opposite, and b) I could see that with every fibre of her little being, this meant the WORLD to her.  The older girl - didn't look as well matched with the other kids, she'd been in shows before so I judged that it wouldn't be as important to her, and, being older, I took a chance that she would handle the disappointment better.

I was right.  The older girl handled it very well, and although she was disappointed, she was very gracious about it and the rehearsal got underway.  At various points, I did quick shuffling and managed to hand her a few bits and pieces here and there, and also assured her that by the next rehearsal, I would have her more integrated into the show and would find a way to get her more lines.

No problem, right?

Oh, little did I know.

Apparently, the ASM "was up all night until 6am" and "hadn't been able to go to work" because she "felt that it was wrong"  that I had "cut the child from the show without prior notice" that she "couldn't be a part of a show with this kind of atmosphere" and that because I'd made a FUCKING CONTACT SHEET for the cast to proof I was "disregarding the proper channels" (WHAT proper channels?!?  I couldn't get the fucking STAGE MANAGER to do it and I had the fucking audition sheets so why SHOULDN'T I do it...?!?!) and....and...and...and...


It took 90 minutes of listening to this nutjob and eventually getting a chance to explain what ACTUALLY happened and assure her that I weas taking care of it and that I had the best interests of not only the show but everyone in it at heart and...and...and.....

All this, after ALREADY taking the day off from work MYSELF to make the hours and hours of OTHER phone calls to other people to coordinate the show, including the producer who's been little more than an absentee producer at best and a downright burden at worst -


So, at this point in time, all the time that I was SUPPOSED to have to sit down with the script and prepare blocking for tomorrow's rehearsal, I spent putting out goddamn fires and soothing the mentally handicapped and filling in for the professionally incompetent. 

While fighting with my sewing machine and trying to complete an order by deadline.

And trying to get through to a doctor's office - 30 minutes of phone calls to an automated message telling me to "call again later" only to finally be told that I CAN'T EVEN GET A FUCKING APPOINTMENT.

By the time I got off the phone with her, the ASM said that she'd be at rehearsal, and that she'd continue assisting Bill.  I think.  It was a little hard to parse, what with all the CRAZY.

I have no idea all this means.
If I actually have a stage management team or not.

Or when I can expect the NEXT fucking freaktastic meltdown.

Like the NEXT time I do something that "upsets" her.  Like give Bill a fucking migraine or something by expecting him to, oh, I don't know DO HIS FUCKING JOB.


On the lighter side, my favorite trick-or-treater tonight was a Zombie John Wayne. 
No shit.
I think he was all of 6 years old.
It was awesome.
my_window_seat: (Head Go A'Splodey)
Unlike last night, I'm not feeling so great about this show.

I don't even have time to fall apart over it.

I'm the Director, so I don't have that privilege - I have to hold it together when damn near EVERY FUCKING ONE ELSE is losing their goddamn MINDS and I have to not only do their jobs for them, but hold their goddamn hands and woodgy-woodgy-woo them into not QUITTING THE SHOW WITHOUT FUCKING NOTICE.



I don't know why I'm not in a clock tower with an automatic weapon right now.

Jesus FUCK.

I'm remembering why I retired from theatre for an entire decade right about now.


For FUCK'S SAKE people.

my_window_seat: (Frances Farmer)
Remember this moment.
A moment when you can honestly tell yourself -

There are some things that you are good at.

Yes, there are.

Had the first read-through of the show tonight.  There were snags - still short at least one or more men for casting; the script copies the ASM made were missing pages, and worst, I accidentally double-cast a part and ended up nearly erasing one of the kids from the show - something I'll damned well fix, because she's a really awesome little actress -

But, in the few hours I've had in the last week, between unfucking the fucked-upedness of casting, the lack of expected support from certain quarters, the hellish outside anxieties of other "real life" responsibilities -

I put together a damned fine, if slightly incomplete at present, cast.

And I tweaked a little here, and nudged a little there -

Resulting in what is already apparent, even in the first reading -

This really is going to be a Damned Good Little Show.

And I really am -

I can honestly say -

I am a good Director.

Fuck yeah, bitches.
my_window_seat: (Default)
In yet another uncharacteristically optimistic moment -

I got a phone call today from a woman who might act as Musical Director for my show, recommended by the Set Designer.  Her availability is very scant, but she proposes using one of the kids I worked with over the summer (one of the two who acted as Junior Counselors for my kids camp) and some other volunteers from the community to help the ensemble self-create the music live onstage.

It this works out, it would mean I'll be able to put back the music I already mentally cut because I didn't figure on having a Musical DIrector.  There are only three original songs, and it's not that they're so awesome that the show couldn't live without them - but holiday shows always benefit from music, and especially a show-closer that the whole cast can do.

Most importantly, she seems very invested in the same vision I have of the show - of making it something that the ensemble creates, and something that utilizes as many members of the community as are willing to participate.  For someone as curmudgeonly as I am, it may surprise you, my dear readers, to know that this is where my rarely displayed sense of goodwill emerges - when I have an opportunity to create community through art. 

Permission to boggle granted.

It's almost enough to make me think I might have some decent karma points that are finally being cashed in after all.

:: crosses fingers ::
my_window_seat: (Default)
Small bright spot in the gloom today.

Something I realized recently is that much of my dissatisfaction with life - in particular with art, something that should satisfy me when nothing else does - is that, since school, I've been doing nearly everything all on my own.

Writing is a solitary art.  I personally have little to no use for writer's groups, and have generally found them to be artistic circle jerks, more often than not populated mainly by talentless malcontents who don't want honest critical assessment, but hand-holding and unearned praise.  A sweeping generalization, but there it is.  Writing classes can be better, but only when they're moderated with a talented, and at least somewhat ruthless, instructor.

I'm only a 'writer' inasmuch as I write.  I don't finish much of anything except journal entries, and I have no ambition to publish.  So that's not my real art.

One of the fundamental underpinnings of my philosophy of teaching drama is that it fosters and really depends on community.  Unless you're doing performance art, you're working with other people.  The strength of the work depends, not wholly on the talent of individuals, but on their ability to successfully combine their gifts to the success of the venture as a whole, and prima donna behavior detracts from that.

Theatre shouldn't be done in a vacuum.  And that's what I feel like I've been working in, and that, I truly believe, is a large part of why I've been so unhappy in the last few months, with teaching, and with the idea of directing the upcoming show. 

At the mountain company, I've been solo teaching, although at least over the summer I had two teenage assistants, and that was a real help, as far as it went.  They helped a lot with the daily activities, but all the planning and conceptualizing were my responsibility.  And the teaching since then, I haven't even had them to work with - it's just been me and the kids, and I've felt like I was really just recycling the same ideas over and over, with far less success than I expected and far more frustration than I ever anticipated.

Substitute teaching, drama aside, is the same way.  Every day is a different school, a different set of kids and curriculum, and there's no one to work with and it just turns into a hellish kind of babysitting.

I'm sick to goddamn death of being completely without community.   I hate feeling like I'm so much on my own.

This week I finally received contact information for my stage manager and set designer for the Christmas show.  I called and talked with each of them, and our first production meeting is this weekend.  I don't know yet if I'll get a costume designer; need to rattle the bushes and see what falls out for that because we really need one.

In talking with the set designer tonight, I finally felt a spark - a real sense of joy again in the process that I've been missing so very much.  I haven't yet put a lot of thought into the concept (and auditions are only two weeks away - jesus...). but in talking with her, I had that familiar feeling of satisfaction that comes from my ideas synching up with another person, and new ideas forming from the infusion of creative impulses from a source outside my own brain.

It was the first real feeling of engagement with what I'm supposed to be doing that I've had in months.
I finally felt like like there was something to really look forward to again.

I needed that.  I needed - and need - that so much.  I'm so tired of having every waking minute taken up with either scrambling unsuccessfully to generate money or escapist activity to keep me from thinking about how dire everything seems.

I need to be a part of something that feels like it's worth doing.  And I need to be doing it with other people.

I finally feel like there's some hope of having that again.

my_window_seat: (Default)
This looks simultaneously like one of the most AWESOME and WORST things to have ever been given a budget.

And I'm going to have to see it someday.

Oh my, yes.

my_window_seat: (Yuskavage's Girl)
Just had  - one of those moments I live for.  Really.

Went to the store, was on my way to the check-out - heard a voice behind me call my name -

Was two of the boys I worked with last summer, Ismael and - oh, great.  I'm drawing a blank.  They're brothers, can't remember the older boy's name....  Argh!

But Ismael was the one who called out and ran up - not quite a full-on open-arms thing (he's right at that age where it's not quite cool to do that anymore - but he still has the old impulses) - but almost.  Like, he wanted to give a hug but wasn't quite sure if he should.  So I gave him a hug anyway - just not a big smothery one.  And the older brother came over, too, said hi - in that I'm-almost-a-teenager-so-what's-the-protocol? kind of way.

It just - made my night.  Seriously.

Working on that show last summer - I learned a lot.  About working with kids as an artist, and the things I want to do better when doing so.  I know I didn't give the kids last summer as good of an experience as they really deserved, working on that show.  I was too focused on the show, and not focused enough on them.

I can learn.  I can do things differently.

It's just so good to know that it wasn't as bad as all that.  That two of my kids are still happy to see me.


Damn that feels good to know.
my_window_seat: (Default)
The Onion gives me guilty pleasure.

Second-Graders Wow Audience With School Production Of Equus

"The kids loved it," teacher and director Michael Komarek said. "Once they stopped screaming about horses getting their eyes gouged out and realized that it was just a launching point for more complex ideas about alienation from the modern world, they rolled up their sleeves and dug right in."

I have reminded you to fear for your children, haven't I?
my_window_seat: (Default)
Being back in school - and more specifically, now finally being in a position to be in classes that have to do with what really interests me, namely art - well, it's reminding me of the contradictory feelings I've always have about the purpose of education in art, namely that it can be both instrumental and detrimental - it can be either or both necessary and dangerous.

For example: I've been assigned to read both Aristotle's and Castelvetro's theories on poetics - the term then used to refer to theatre, go fig - and both of them, though they differ on many points, agree that there are supposed to be very specific rules for how comedy and tragedy should be constructed.

The thing is this - part of me feels that, in order to most effectively create, it's beneficial to know what the 'rules' are in order to better break them. On the other hand, some of the most amazing leaps forward in the arts have come from 'outsiders', i.e., people who have no knowledge at all of the 'rules' - or even that there are any. While it's impossible to know for sure, some theorists say that Shakespeare can't possibly have known the theories of poetics - and yet other theorists use his work to illustrate their own points about the necessities put forward by those same constructions.

The short form - I wonder how much my education is going to help or hinder me. Is it the mind 'unshadowed by thought' that has the greatest chance of reaching the heights, or are we meant to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' - necessitating knowing enough about them to scale them?


I think it's probably six of one, half dozen of the other.

About the only thing I know for sure is that I have a deep-seated streak of resentment towards anyone or anything that puts any kind of restrictions or limitations on me. Which makes me wonder what kind of a teacher I'm going to be - about the only thing I can think is that I'm going to want to encourage that same kind of rebelliousness to codified thought in my students.

Why do I think that this is going to make for a whole lot of challenges in my future career....?

Yeah - that's a purely rhetorical question. ;)


my_window_seat: (Default)

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