I have been toying with the idea of blogging this directorial experience. It begins Sunday, July 31st, with the first of 2 nights for auditions. Actually the process started a few months ago when I submitted the play for CCP’s call for directors. I had heard about the play but had not read it and in my research for a suitable piece I purchased a copy of it from Amazon and read the whole thing in one sitting. That was all it took – the play is so original, so tender and so full of possibilities, I knew right away that it was what I wanted to attempt.

Obviously the play-readers at CCP felt the same and from what I heard about it, the play had a charming effect. They liked it enough to assign the season opener position to me – and we were off. I recruited my friend Lori Raffel (a director of note in her own right) to produce the play and another friend, Bruce Kelley (who had formerly headed up the Alley Theatre) to aid with the complicated set design I had in mind. My wife, Donna, will stage manage, as usual.

For the past few weeks, Bruce and I have been spending a day or two a week working on the set at the theatre. There is a complication. CCP is such a busy venue that until Aug 28th (one month from today btw) I cannot place set pieces on the stage there. Consequently we have built what we can keep in pieces to be assembled later, such as a 6′ x 10′ peaked roof assembly, or that can be shoved off the stage into the wings (off which there is not much space to speak of), such as an immensely heavy wheeled floor that will eventually be the floor of our main set piece. Flatter pieces are stored in the “green room” which is more a storage room than it is a room for actors. It will all be put together in a flurry and painted after the stage is all mine in a month.

I have just begun to work up the paint combinations. The play takes place in the far north of Maine and there are indoor and outdoor scenes – so part of the set consists of pine trees. This sounds easier than it actually is. I think I can get away with 8 sets of trees, single tall ones and groups of smaller ones from 4′ x 8′ sheets of luaun. The main set piece is a building and rustic tones must be employed to get the right feel for the place. More on this later, when I get to the actual painting.

Back to the script, which is unusual in that it is 9 separate stories which occur on the same winter evening in the mythical Almost, Maine. The stories each tell of some aspect of love – the joining up, the falling out, the misunderstandings, the new-found and the old-lost. And each scene has an element of magic in it, which has a spell-binding effect (I hope) so that the tales are never old or stale, but are fresh and innovative looks at the subject of love.

As far as the auditions go, my aim is to people the town with 6-8 actors and actresses playing 19 characters, and just have fun putting together the couplings that live the stories. Luckily, I think more than a few very good actors are interested in the play. This is a blessing and a curse – a curse because I will not be able to use very many actors in this production, but that’s the director’s first job – to put together a strong cast, that at least somewhat shares my vision of the play or appears to be capable of undertaking it.

So in the next couple days, I will reread the play, select passages for the auditioners to tackle and move into the next segment of the process. After that, it all depends on who is cast. More later…

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