Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Made From Scratch

"Let's start at the very beginning,
A very good place to start ..."
Oscar Hammerstein II

DAY 103:  Behold the infamous "Director's Book" for my production of Our Leading Lady!  It's a sure sign that my life is going to be awfully busy for the next couple of months.  I finally put the book together tonight ... for those unfamiliar with a Director's Book, it has contact information for the cast and crew, rehearsal schedules, stage drawings and ground plans, props and costume lists, and eventually light and sound cues.  The majority of the book, however, is the script - each individual page in the small published version is cut out and copied onto the center of a full blank white sheet so that "blocking" notes can be added.  "Blocking" is the instructions for the actors on where and when and how to move on stage, and it's the first big job for a director.  It's kind of choreography without the dance, placing the characters so the audience focuses where you want them to focus, and creating interesting "stage pictures."  It will take me about a week or so to "block" the entire show ... then the fun begins of actually DIRECTING the acting and characterization in the show.

ANYWAY ... it's not my Director's Book I'm grateful for, but the start of a new theatre project.  It's an incredibly exciting process - I've now had two "Production Meetings" with Jeff and Kelly, the theatre's Technical Director and Set Designer, respectively.  We have been planning the set and throwing around LOTS of ideas ... and I think we finally have it nailed down.  There's something particularly thrilling about visualizing and bringing the printed word from the page to life.  It's really quite a wondrous and somewhat magical process, I think.  And just before a show opens, there's this ineffable moment when I'll realize that what's on the stage has taken on a life of it's own - it's no longer something I've created.  But that's the subject for another post during the first week of March!!

What's especially interesting about this project is that it's based on a VERY famous historical event - the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre - as seen through the eyes of the company that was performing on stage that evening.  And it's a COMEDY, if you can believe it!  It's been a lot of fun looking at old photographs of Ford's Theatre, the setup of the stage, the relationship of the President's Box to the set, the exit path that John Wilkes Booth apparently took to escape after he leapt from the President's Box and broke his ankle.  There's also a great deal of information about the actors performing that evening, including the "Leading Lady" herself, Ms. Laura Keene, who apparently cradled the head of the dying Lincoln in her lap after the fateful shooting.  A fascinating story told from the point of view of a squabbling, delightful, and HIGHLY dysfunctional group of actors.  I CAN'T WAIT!

And what's even COOLER is that my next show, the musical Parade, is also a historical period piece about another very famous crime!  That one's FAR from a comedy, though ... more later ...


  1. Your next production sounds AWESOME!!! Judy and I will DEFINITELY be there :)

  2. I so admire your ability to visualize what a show can become. This blog gets me excited about theatre all over again. :-)