The Official WL Studio Theatre blog

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I've always wanted to do this. The movie poster with the quote thing. Partly because it makes sense to do it. If someone gives you a good review, then yeah, why not quote it on the poster (or, in this case, the print advertising). Also, because it's kind of pompously cool to do it.

I actually ran a quote on the second week of advertising of "Illuminati" but it was only a made-up quote from a friend who'd been passing through town and had come out to see the show. It was something like, "Puts the 'naughty' into 'Illuminati'" which was kind of funny and all, but I don't think it sold any tickets, Though I'm not sure there was going to be any way to sell tickets to that one.

Someone later said, in reference to "Illuminati" that "It violated my spirituality." Now thatis a quote worth putting on a paster.

I ran the pictured ad in the advisor this week. I'm not sure how many people are won over by positive quotes used on marketing, but it just looked too cool, and the quote was too damn good not to use it.

Bittersweet symphony

I'm not quite ready to let go yet. And I don't think I will be by Saturday night's performance, either.

Maybe this is why I bring plays to festival. Because it extends the process. Because it allows you to postpone the goodbyes, the farewells, the acceptance that it is, in fact, over.

I'm sitting here, getting in a staring contest with my proof print of the "Welcome to the Monkey House" program and the notion that a week of performances are already over seeems ludicrously surreal to me. The fact that there are only another four performances to go seems ridiculous.

How did we get here?

It's not that I don't feel the play is read for exhibition. It is. Everyone knows their job, and everyone is doing it brilliantly. I just feel like...

Okay, here's a story.

As a director, I've spent the last few weeks focused on the little details. Little niggly things that bugged me. Annoying things. But I had a moment, on Thursday night, while watching the show, that I remembered how good this play is. I was no longer focused on the little things, I was no longer stressing about the niggly bits, I actually got the sense of the play as a whole, and it's a goddamn good play.

And, barring festival, we've only got four nights left to show this goddamn good play to an audience.

That's kind of sad.

On Saturday night, someone whose opinion I respect very, very much was in the theatre to see the show, and he told me that he enjoyed it, that we had done a good job, and those are the moments I crave as a director. To have someone say "You did a good job," or, "I liked it," or, "Damn fine play," or whatever.

I think, as a general rule, I struggle to communicate to a very small portion of the audience. And it's nice to know when I've reached them.

I hate doors closing. I hate endings. But this play will end, for all intents and purposes next Saturday night, whether I like it or not.

So let's kick some goddamn ass on our way out the door.

Because it's a good play. It says things that are profound and meaningful. It hopefully allows you to leave the theatre feeling good about yourself, and about life.

And that's not an idea I warm up to easily.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Opening night...

Opening night tonight. I'm so tired I can't see straight.

House was almost half, which I think is is solid for a lesser known play based on short stories people might not be familiar with. I'm inclined to think that tomorrow will be week, with a solid Friday and Saturday.

And then...

I'm hoping that word of mouth from week one spreads to create a stellar, amazing, sold-out week two.

Additional bonus: No one left at intermission. I think that's a good sign.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My ass was officially kicked...

So, as you might know, "Welcome to the Monkey House" opens on Wednesday night. Last rehearsal -- the dress rehearsal -- was tonight.

I confess, I went into it a little nervous. There still seemed to be so much that needed to be done. There were still people hanging onto the script at Sunday's rehearsal. Lights and sound were still clunky. I looked at the show and, as close as it was to being exactly what I wanted -- and don't get me wrong, it was very, very close -- it still wasn't quite close enough.

And then, tonight, everything changed.

Tonight my cast and crew kicked my ass all over the theatre. Tonight we had a show. And it was a fucking good one.

I said to Keith Jantz (who plays Newt) tonight, when talking about directing, this: All of the stress; all of the ulcers and the sleepless nights and the torn out hair and nausea and the wanting to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for hours, all of that is worth it for the moment I had tonight. For the moment that you look at the stage and realize that your vision has come to life, exactly the way that you imagined it when you first read the script so many months ago.

This final phase of a production is simultaneously the most terrifying and the most rewarding for a director. Rewarding, because you can see all the different facets working together, you can see your production turning from something mechanical into something organic, a life form, that exists all on its own. The actors know their lines, they have costumes, sound and lights are done, and the makeup and hair people know what they have to do. It's a tiny but fully functional community. Watching it is like watching a city you've never lived in before -- watching the people walk down the street, walk into and out of stores, pass each other by. Everything just flows. Everything just works. Naturally. Organically.

But at the same time, amongst all of this working, there is the very real sense that you, as the director, are no longer needed. Your job here is done. You've become kind of a prop. It's like the story of Frankenstein -- you're the one who breathed life into this thing, but now it's functioning as if it has a mind of its own.

Having to remove yourself from the show, and simply let the show be...that's hard.

But when you have a show that looks as good as it did tonight, well, it makes it a little bit easier.

Should any of my cast or crew stumble upon this message between now and Wednesday night, let me simply say this: You rock. All of you. Every single goddamn one of you. I love you all, and I could never thank you enough for helping me bring this thing to life.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Four days

It's late. I should be in bed. Rehearsal starts at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. But the beer tastes a little too good, and I still need to come down a little from the creative high of finally getting the program 99% done.

And besides, there's only four days until we open, and I still have three more posters to post. Well, two more now.

Three rehearsals left -- two tomorrow, and one on Monday night.

Things are coming together, as they often do, at the last minute. We have a sound man now, which is nice, because that was one of my biggest concerns. I was starting to think I was going to have to run sound on the play, which was terrifying me, because I can't direct from the sound booth, but at the same time I can't leave my actors without sound cues until opening night. They'll have no idea what to expect when, and it would completely throw them off, which is not something you want to do on their first night in front of an audience.

I'm not sure if things are coming together later than they did on Illuminati, or if it's just my brain playing tricks on me because this play seems so much bigger with a cast of 12 instead of a cast of two. Or if it's maybe because when I directed Illuminati I didn't know what I didn't know, so problems left me unfazed because I didn't quite realize they were a problem.

I have, at times, felt overwhelmed on this production, which is always kind of a freaky thing to feel. In way, the whole production was off kilter from the get go, with a ridiculous nightmare trying to fill all twelve roles. And since then it's been a bit of a roller-coaster-ride, with dizzyingly high ups, but also some moments when I was beginning to think that things might just completely fall apart.

But the bottom line is this: We're four days away from opening night, and I have no regrets about doing this. I have no fears about putting this show in front of an audience on Wednesday night. And, just for me personally, I think I'm finally over the last-minute hurdle of "ohmygodtherestoomuchtodoandnotenoughtime." Which is nice.

Look for Poster E in this space on Tuesday night, and the final poster -- Poster A -- to appear here sometime before we open on Wednesday.

Cheerio. Godspeed.