Thursday, May 6, 2010

Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent ...

Yeah, yeah, you’re undoubtedly going to hear a lot about this in the next few months. But the story so far has been unique in my experiences – so I thought I’d share some observations as I go along …

Some time ago, around Christmas I think, a theatre I frequent announced their 2010-2011 season. I like this little group, gutsy they are – normally their offerings are lesser known works by famous playwrights, and occasionally they throw in a classic – last season it was Shaw, this season Noel Coward, and starting in the Fall, Shakespeare.

I remember hearing me say it. I was talking to the Artistic Director and said,
“Wow! You’re doing Richard the Third? I’ve always wanted to do Richard the Third!”

So now I’m directing Richard the Third. And what’s the moral here? Altogether now:


So in December of 2009 I was contracted to direct R3 in November 2010.

Fine. Eleven months to think and plan.

And worry. What have I done?! This is Shakespeare. Shakespeare! Who in their right mind would trust me with arguably the greatest playwright who ever lived? I had (and have) visions of the British cutting off diplomatic relations, and blockading harbors, and unmanned aircraft being aimed at the theatre, and Sean Connery telling me he saw the show and was shaken but not stirred …

And they would be so right. Benny Hill is my inspiration. Ohgodohgodohgodohgod what have I done?

Here was my first hurtle. I was handed the script, and told to cut 45 pages out of it.


“It’s long,” I was told. “Lots of repetition. Lots of references to people nobody cares about. You'll have fun.”

Oh-h-h-h-h …

So I cut 42 pages. I have, after all, some principles. Maybe, with luck, when I die I’ll only be sent to the fifth level of hell …

In April the theatre held unified auditions, meaning they cast not a show, but a season. Out of the 44 characters written into R3, I was able to cast three – all women. Whatever you think of Willie S, he wrote strong women characters. The three actresses I have could eat their male counterparts for lunch.

And that’s where I am at the moment. There’s more – much more. Actors shy away (Ha!) and now I’ve learned that three productions of the same play are going to be produced roughly at the same time in the same city.

Can it get any better than this?


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