Wednesday, 10 February 2010

One Thousand and One Nights (since my last blog)

Ok. So I appreciate that not making a virtual contirbution since before Christmas is positively an age in the blogosphere, but sooooo much has happened. As a treat I will endeavour to make this as interesting and fun as I can.

This week saw the opening of 'Arabian Nights', and also sees the beginning of me trying to reclaim my life back on a social level. Most of my blog tardiness can be denoted to the show, with an intense rehearsal schedule, technical meetings and talking about the show endlessly to anyone who will listen. But to anyone who came to see the show last night I hope they thought it was worth it?? The students did their best performance yet and I hope that they continue their good run into tonights proceedings.

But I am not writing this blog in order to discuss the finer points of the production but more to talk about what I have learnt about myself throughout this time. The results have been more than startling and I have kept mental notes of these transitions as they happen.

I have directed before; student shows, amateur shows and with professional companies and every time I have the same sense of dread and foreboding when going into a project. Of course the usual excitement is also present, sprinkled with enthusiasm, but still this inner feeling remains. Directing a play is like flying a plane and the engine cutting out. Once started you can't stop, you must just keep going and hope that you land on a cotton wool factory - and hope to goodness you don't land on a bomb factory. And, much like all plane crashes (oh yes, this extended metaphor still has life in it) you don't know where you're going to land until you're really near the ground. It never fails to surprise me the momentum at which a production moves along, and you have to make sure that you're going with it or be left behind.

As an actor I have worked with directors who have let the play go too far without them, and when they try to sneak back in they find it impossible. I have also worked with directors that are so 'on top' of what's going on it's hard to get any creative fulfilment as one of the performers. But saying 'I will not be like those directors' proves as futile as saying 'I will not grow up to be my mother' - we both have the same face, sarcastic repertoire and an anal fascination with cleanliness. But more importantly she was my female role maodel and showed me what it is to be a woman; in the same way that all the past directors I have worked with have taught me about how to direct.

I caught myself working with this group of actors sometimes and knowing that if I did it again I would try something different. But overarching all this uncertainty was a deep rooted belief that everything was going to be ok. The play was good, the music and live musicians was great, the students are being challeenged and I was working on a show that truly reflected what working with me as a director is like - slap-dash and random but also with discipline and fun.

As I watched the show I felt like the last few months have melted away and all I have left are new skills as a director, new ideas as an educator and a show which I, and my students can be proud of. I hope anyone who comes to see it this week agrees.

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