Prelude to a Kiss ended Sunday. The run went well and I should be ecstatic and accomplished feeling today. I’m not. Before I get to why, I’m going to force myself to run through the things that I should (and do, I swear), feel accomplished about.
- I directed a show. And I did the set design and the light design and the sound design, as well. I can’t really show you a picture of the sound design, but how ’bout this for some light and set:
- I got three first time actors onstage acting and doing pretty darn good at it by the end of the run. This is our “Old Man:”
- We had a high attendance of 58 last Saturday (the venue seats around 70) and had between 20-40 on many of the other nights of the run.
- While we had a few walk-outs, the majority of the audiences really liked the show. Some were absolutely raving about it as they left. A couple of my co-workers saw it and really liked it. The former president of the theater saw it and thought I did an amazing job with what I had to work with.
So I directed a show and people liked it and at heart, that’s the most important thing. Despite the small problems we had getting there (I know shows that have had much bigger problems), the shows went well. I saw the evaluations that the actors all filled out and I was expecting pretty much everything I saw written about me, but was amused at the juxtaposition of some of the comments in the “weak points” section. Two or three cast members wrote “too patient” or some variation on that. A couple wrote “not patient enough.” By other comments and handwriting, it’s pretty much the people that had memorization problems that wrote “not patient enough” and the more experienced, but younger actors that wrote “too patient.” And I can see both sides of that coin. I was there to be a director, not a drama teacher and I certainly didn’t have time to be both for half the cast. Among the many things I’ve learned from this experience is that, if it can be helped, I am never working with first time actors again.
Another thing I’m probably never doing again is directing at this particular theater. Last week, the board liaison type person (who happens to be directing the next show) sent me an email about the closing of the show: “Go ahead and paint everything back to black when you strike the set Sunday. Please, leave the wires that are hanging the window, the Irish dancer[sic] will use them.” [Expository Note: the theater has an Irish Dancing trouped booked in for this upcoming weekend… which would have made it impossible for us to extend had there been demand.] Our plan for closing day was to strike and then have the cast party at the theater, as no one in the cast really had a house near the theater, so half the cast would have to travel half an hour out of their way to attend. As the set was pretty basic, strike wouldn’t take long. After the show, Josh and Dale started on the strike and I went in the back to finish up cast gifts and call to order pizza for the party. When I came out, the president of the board was there with someone I recognized as being from the Irish Dance troupe. I figured they were just scoping out what the stage would look like blank for the dancers. The President asked me, upset, why the flats were taken down and where the Liaison was. I replied “Because we weren’t told to leave them up” and that I didn’t know. At this point, only one (of four) flats was still up (and, though I didn’t know it at the time wasn’t actually attached to anything). She asked if we could put them back up and I said that was really up to Josh, as it wasn’t our responsibility to put their set up for them and we needed to get on with our cast party. I suggested she ask him if he would put them back up. I also started explaining that someone who knew about hanging lights should come in on Monday with the Dancer to check out the lighting. To which President interrupted, “We don’t need anything,” and I replied “I would presume you need the dancers lit, right?” After that, I directed these comments at the Dancer and explained that our lighting was set up for our show and that some areas of the stage might be dark. I said that the person they have running their lights isn’t trained to hang them in this theater, so they needed someone who was on hand in case they needed additional lights hung. And that Chris and I were not available (which is 100% true).
After that, I needed to go see how the cast was coming along backstage. The next time I came out, Liaison had arrived and so had a couple more people I didn’t recognize. I asked President what was going on, as we were going to be having our cast party there as soon as we were done striking. She said that the dance troupe needed to set up. I told her that no one had told me this and that this was yet another instance of the board not communicating theater usage to the director. She said “Well, can’t you just do the cast party with them here?” which is a ridiculous proposition, but only she seemed to not realize that. Someone yelled for me from the green room, so I left again. When I came back, President and Liaison started yelling at me for being “rude” and taking the last flat down. I eventually (mostly, just to get them out of there so that we could start our cast party) went to speak to Josh and asked if he could put the flats back up if President asked him nicely. He said he didn’t want to speak to her, but if I wanted him to, he would. I went to speak to Arlene to find out exactly what they needed and as it turned out, even if we had been informed, it wouldn’t have been a matter of just leaving two flats up… we would have had to take three of the four down, move one and put it in place and re-orient the fourth flat. Which, I explained to her, was totally not our responsibility to build their set for them. I also explained to her that, by proper strike procedure, we should be taking down all the lights (and were not told not to), but that I took it upon myself to leave them up as I knew they weren’t prepared to hang lights and that she could stop calling me rude. It was around 4:40 and I told her that we were going to start the food and awards portion of our cast party in the back, the karaoke would be coming at 5pm to set up and that I would very much appreciate it if they were out of the building by 5:15.
Then I went in the back, poured myself a Coke and Dale added a generous amount of Vodka to it. I set someone on rounding up the cast, went in the women’s dressing room and broke down a little bit because I was so frustrated with the way the board dealt with the whole situation. Then I came out, gave out the awards and cast gifts (a color poster, program and CD with some of the pre-show and intermission music that started and ended with versions of “Don’t Stop Believin'”), which they really liked. At 5:15pm, we started karaoke and it was awesome (as was my rendition of “Eternal Flame”).
I went home and after a great cast party, I should have felt wonderful and relaxed and sad that the show was over. Instead, I feel frustrated with the board yet again and am looking forward to getting good news about other prospects so that I don’t have to use that theater to build my resume any longer.