Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today I Got My First Hate Mail

      For those who came in late, I was hired to direct AIDA for one theatre later this summer and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA for another theatre organization in the fall. Since I had a long break between the last show and the next one (always a dangerous time for me), one dark and stormy night I got an epiphany. It went something like this;

      (1)  Directing plays is not the grand fun it used to be. Directing plays is becoming 
more like work with only occasional satisfactions, usually if or when an actor “gets it.”

     (2)  Directing plays is becoming more a form of escape. For a few hours each night I get to yell at actors. And, while there is a marked degree of satisfaction in doing this, these are actors after all, and not real people.

     (3)  Directing plays has become an excuse for not writing. I wish I could make some cute or caustic comment to blunt the truth of this statement, but I can’t. It is what it is.

     (4)  I should avoid any epiphany I get on a dark and stormy night. I just know it’s never gonna be fun.

     So. In December I contacted both theatre groups, informing them that I would not be available to direct for them this season after all, citing with deep regret that, because of personal problems, I could not give these two shows the attention they deserved.    

      Everything I had said was true and certainly heartfelt. These two plays had become very dear to me, and I was saddened with the knowledge that the visions I had created in my mind would never see the light of day. Still, after almost literally casting off this mantle, I felt a great sense of relief. I could actually go about my day and NOT think of blocking, abstract set designs, and spectacular lighting effects. My emails dropped instantly from 60 a day down to a quite delightful 4. (I was being shunned.)

      And now, my friend, we are up to date – or at least up to this morning.

     “I spent a year preparing for this play,” the email began, “a YEAR! I set everything aside, my whole life, just to play this role.”

     At this rather dramatic point in the narrative, I must point out that I only vaguely know the person who sent me the email. And, although I am not at all opposed to pre-casting, I really prefer it to be known before auditions, and determined by me, rather than by the person who is auditioning, or is thinking of auditioning, or is planning to secure the role in question by other and hopefully aesthetically pleasing means.

     I will spare you the more terse (and colorful) portions of the missive in question. In essence I was informed that she considered my unexpected withdrawal as an attack on her personally, that as a result I may have permanently damaged the relationship between her and her family (no kidding, she said that.), that I most certainly must be evil incarnate, and – if she has anything to say about it – I would no longer be welcome in any theatre anywhere in the known world.    

      And I must tell you, friend, I was singularly impressed. Although she was juvenile in the extreme, it didn’t negate the fact that she was thorough. She didn’t actually invoke the wrath of God, but she certainly pointed out that He had screwed up the day I was born.

     As for me, I consider this as just another milestone in my life, and points to the fact that I made the correct decision in stepping aside for awhile. I have not a doubt in the world that should I direct a play at some point in the future in which she is interested, all of the present rancor will simply be a fading and unimportant memory …

     … to her.



Views from Malmesbury said...

Crumbs! Let's hope she grows up quickly enough not to alienate everyone in her life.

phinz said...

Wow. Somebody needs a nap.