We had a very good first week- hanging out in the world of Thamesmead and Smackheaded Peter.
Here’s the welcome sign to Thamesmead in south-east London, England.
Almost through the play for the first time- and lots of excellent investigation of the scenes, characters going on. I’ve had a super time working with everyone- and am looking forward to rehearsal this week.
I want to catch up a bit on ‘the differences’ on this process…
One way that this is different is that I’m ‘producing’ and directing. This is the fourth time that I’ve created a theatre piece outside of an existing infrastructure- and then found/borrowed the money to start the process.
I’m learning lots about producing, but I’ve put the word in quotation marks because I’m not sure that I’m ready to say that I’m good at it. I’m hacking my way through the undergrowth and learning along the way… Some of it’s an excellent experience, other times I’d really just like to think about what’s going on in the rehearsal room. And sometimes I have to try and divide myself in half to ‘think appropriately’ depending on the meeting that I’m in. This mostly happens when I look at the budget and think about the number of tickets that we need to sell so that I can give the actors some money at the end of this process… and then (as the ‘producer’) I want to scale back the production even though (as the ‘producer’) I know that’s counter-intuitive to the director’s (my) vision and that she (me!) is doing everything possible to keep costs a minimal as possible… It’s a little odd- and it really makes me appreciate the ‘two-headed’ structure of many theatre companies: and Artistic Director and a General Manager/Executive Director/(person who thinks mostly about money).
On the other hand… I also love the challenges of this process. I’m not sure I’d like to make theatre like this all the time, but it’s a good change- and it’s allowing me to create a play that I’ve wanted to direct for a long time, that is unlikely to be programmed in a theatre that has a subscription-based audience. A play with a premise involving A class drugs, even if it is a sad and cautionary tale, might be hard to justify to a board that has challenges with strong language/sexuality.
For me, some other challenges of making theatre this way include…
-making sure that people in the company/all those contributing to the process feel valued and respected, even though they’re not being paid
– scheduling rehearsals for an ensemble play, (with most people on stage, most of the time), while people are also working at other jobs
-making sure that there is enough of an infrastructure to the company (without being able to pay them) that I can focus as much as possible on directing
-making sure that I have enough time to do the producing/organising and try to enjoy it!
So, today- a bit of admin. and then I’m sitting down with the play and thinking about week two. We have a stagger-through at the end of the week and good chunks of time together as a full company of nine actors. We’re going to be getting the drug hallucinations ‘on their feet’ and practicing choral work… and I’ve one or two ‘producing’ things to do- this is a week when lots of money gets spent!
we’ll be posting our one-minute video on YouTube on July 18th
And here’s a draft of our poster…