The set in progress.
In many ways, directing is just a gradual process of letting go. I begin with ideas in my head then attempt to communicate those ideas with others- designers and actors. Once they start imposing their own creative energy and processes, the play takes on a life of its own. There’s a little bit of magic in that.
I can guide, direct, answer questions, say “yes” or “no”, coach, and advise, but throughout the weeks of rehearsal, I hand more and more responsibility over to others. The actors are growing into their characters and bringing their talents, experiences, and emotions into the roles. The same is true of the lights, sets, props, and costumes- these artists put something of themselves into their work. The director, then, has a strange hand in the process. I am the only person who gives the show its intangible qualities. A costume designer creates a garment, something that can be worn, seen, and felt. I have a say in what the show looks like- but not as much as the designers. I am more concerned with the mood, the feeling, the pace, and the emotions. I come up with ideas to interpret a story, but talented designers and actors really bring that story to life. It’s a remarkable job I have, and I love it.
Last night, I had my last shot at tinkering with beats and bits with the actors in the rehearsal space. It went well. We worked the transition from the very comic romantic interaction between Marie-Louise and Paul into the darker encounter with Henri. I’m very excited to see these moments all put together on stage tonight.
I also took time to work some of the more complex intimate moments between Alfred and Marie-Louise and Emilie and Jules. It’s interesting how both mother and daughter in the play have slight brushes with “romance.” I have found this script is surprisingly rich in the way that it subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) presents issues of morality, social convention, and right and wrong. This is in NO way a feminist play- it is, in fact, rife with the misogyny typical of the period in which it was written and the period in which it is set. However, I can’t help but be sensitive to these issues and I do see both Emilie and Marie-Louise as having much more depth than meets the eye.
It’s hard to believe we’ve only been at this for two weeks. I am incredibly lucky to be working with this cast and stage manager. Really. Things have run incredibly smoothly thus far and I am giddy with anticipation to get these lively and nuanced characters into the performance space!