“No one can ever say, ‘You can’t be in the theater anymore.'”
Hello, my friends!
I haven’t been gallivanting around this blog the past week and I’m rather upset. The thing is, though, I’ve been working on something rawther theatrical, and I’m absolutely thrilled to finally let you, my theatrical friends know the news:
I am directing a play.
Thank you for your applause. It is greatly appreciated. Also, the roses are very much appreciated as well.
Okay, but really, friends, I’m so excited!
I am directing a play by Susan Glaspell, a playwright who wrote and worked with Depressing Genius of Sadness, Eugene O’Neill, in the early-ish part of the twentieth century.
Susan Glaspell is not immediately recognizable to many, and this is partly due to the fact that she was a female playwright in a time when writing for the theatre was dominated by men and thus she was not as well documented or taught about. In spite of this, she is known for writing one of the earliest feminist plays, a play called Trifles.
Which I am directing.
*faints on the floor*
Directing my first play has been extremely enjoyable and informative. I have ups, I have had down, I have drunk a lot of coffee.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about my first stint into the world of theatre directing this week, and perhaps if you’ve ever thought about directing a play you will pick something up from my dramatic struggles for Pursuit of Theatricality. I have learned many things which, whether useful or not, have all been exceedingly theatrical.
Firstly, as the director of a renowned, critically acclaimed play currently being rehearsed in an alley where the theater stores their set pieces, let me say that if you want to direct a play, you should just freaking do it.
In spite of this, it is always useful to be prepared.
Here are the things that you will need to begin your theatre directing career. They are not vital, but they are exceeding recommended.
Number One: Coffee
How ever you obtain the coffee, I suggest drinking more than is needed. I personally am very sensitive to caffeine, so I don’t have to go overboard, but you, my theatrical friend, may need to drink an entire pot.
How I Know To Do This: every theatre director I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and getting into arguments with, has been absolutely dunked in coffee. They drink it in the morning, they drink it at night, they drink it all through the day. It’s very effective.
Coffee Quantity To Director Ratio:
- Drink double your normal amount of coffee.
- For every song in the play you are directing, increase your coffee by half a cup.
Because have you ever met a Musical Theatre director?
Yeah. I know.
Number Two: My Famous Lemon Tea
My famous lemon tea is something I invented in a time of crisis. The crisis occurred when I was supposed to be singing in my choir and my voice was not exiting my mouth. This actually happens to me quite a lot, but thanks to my recent invention, it is soon resolved.
Broadway Lil’s Famous Lemon Tea
- 1 lemon
- As much honey as you can get your hands on
- Hot Water
- Large, dangerous-looking portable mug (large enough to wave around theatrically)
- Zest the lemon
- Chop some of the lemon peel up into smallish strips
- Juice the lemon
- Mix the honey with the lemon articles and pour mixture into large, dangerous-looking portable mug
- Pour hot water into mug
At first, you might think it tastes too much of lemons, but believe me, the stuff works wonders. I recommend adding some fresh ginger on days when you are in an especially volatile mood.
Number Three: A fake New York accent
If for some utterly fabulous and splendidly admirable reason, you find yourself in the possession of a real New York accent, you don’t need to read this part. You probably should, though, you know, because of my fabulous prose and everything.
Anyway, New York accents were, I believe, developed specifically for theatre directors in order that they might get their words out faster and more loudly. When you eliminate letters, for example, pesky r’s that no one has any use using anyway, you will find that you can talk at double your normal speed! Which is saying a lot! In addition, when one is in possession of the fabulosity that is a New York accent (however faux it might be) one will find themselves in an utterly more theatrical frame of mind.
Number Four: Hand Gestures
I am very for dramatic hand gestures in all aspects of life, but when directing a play they are especially Important and Vital.
For example: if an actor asks you to explain something, you can add some theatrical hand-gesturing in along with your Fake New York accent, and even if what you say isn’t perfect (which it often will not be) you will at least have done your work with style and theatricality.
Note: If you are fond of large hand-gestures in day-to-day life, you already have a head-start in this directing a play business. In spite of this, always be aware of what your hand gestures are being used for. For example, I tend to wave my coffee around in times of great joy and/or tumult. In the case of the tumult, I usually accidentally splash a little coffee on whoever it is who is causing my Rage and Fury (the cause of the tumult). When you are directing a play, you are in charge and must treat your cast as though they are your children. What I mean is, don’t splash coffee on the actors when you are upset. You can drench the producer, though.
Number Five: Props
Props are definitely not just for the actors. No, as the director of a play you must have your own set of props to assist you in your work. My props consist of two things.
Firstly, a pair of sunglasses. I wear these on days when I don’t know if I can make eye-contact for great expanses of time.Whenever I am talking to someone I make unnecessarily intense eye-contact. My eye-contact usage was a conscious decision made when I was Young and Immature but now I cannot break it’s intensity, and I also don’t seem to have gotten the hang of how to control it, so when I’m speaking to someone I just stare somewhat nefariously into their pupils without blinking. Unfortunately, on some days it gives me headaches and feelings of mild panic which translate into, you guessed it: coffee splashing. Sunglasses are a calming reprieve from the world of unblinking tumult. My second prop is my coffee which I wave around (and do not splash).
Now. Of course, after all this you will also need several smallish and rather unimportant things:
A script (recommended, but never necessary)
A place to rehearse. Really anyplace will work. I have an alleyway. One of my friends has a Beverly Hills theater. We find our ways.
To conclude, directing my first play has been a fantastic experience, and something that has taught me so much, and reminded me that creating something with people who are fully committed is probably the greatest thing one could ever hope to be able to do. And I think that’s what theatre is really about.
Also, the coffee, don’t forget that for god’s sake.
What made you love the theatre? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, mes chéris!
And if you’ve ever directed a play, please give me some advice, I have no idea what I’m doing.