by TJ Dawe
The director's job ends on opening night. What a crock.
-the director directs the rehearsals
-she gives notes after every run through, tech dress, full dress, previews, and opening
-after that it's the stage manager's job to preserve the show in its opening night incarnation
-if the director wants to watch the show again after opening, she's welcome to buy a ticket like anyone else
-she is not welcome to give further notes to the cast, crew or designers.
Here's what I learned doing this:
-the audience is the final ingredient.
-you can get all the feedback you want from people reading your script. From people watching public readings. From peers and critics and papered seats in previews and opening. But there's nothing like the honest unfiltered reaction of a house of paying strangers. They're the heat in the oven. Without that, you have a pan full of batter, not a cake.
-and if you were to create a new cake from scratch, wouldn't finalizing the recipe after a single baking seem inadequate?
Most runs of plays are woefully short. It takes me a certain number of kicks at the can before I can genuinely relax with new material, before I can be lucid and present with the people there and how they're responding. Before I can really mean what I'm saying instead of saying something I've memorized and rehearsed. But there's a certain point where that threshold pops like a soap bubble, and I'll find myself there. Alive. In the moment. And that's when the really good discoveries happen. The little nuances stumble in, like figs falling from heaven, right into your mouth.
Even though people having been pronouncing theatre to be dead for who knows how long, the medium has this towering advantage over pretty much any other art form: it can't be file shared. It looks atrocious on Youtube. You have to be there. And with the increasing digitization of our lives, a counter-pull occurs, building a desire to actually connect with others, at the same time, in the same place.
Never Shoot a Stampede Queen runs to May 25 at The Arts Club in Vancouver. Click here for tickets.
Read also: TJ Dawe on preparing Never Shoot a Stampede Queen