This week we are supposed to be at the point where the actors struggle through our first book-free rehearsals using their memories. Typically this is a rough week. But usually after a few attempts at the script, we can find the places that need extra work and polish those up and wind up with a reasonable rendition of the play. No perfection is expected at this point, only a valiant attempt at the script from memory, with enough smoothness that I can start making directional changes and form the parts into a whole.

Our Life x 3 cast has encountered some problems: one of my actresses lost a brother last week and so naturally this has taken a big toll on her. Another actor, who is a lawyer, is deeply into an important case and so his attentions are distracted. Last night, the other actor in the play had a business dinner that he simply could not miss (with his boss’s boss in attendance) so we attempted rehearsing with 75% of the cast. Such are the challenges of community theatre. People’s real lives go on – of course. Because of these life distractions, time spent on learning lines has been left out.

It is not the first time I have faced such events – I was once in a show when my step-son died. It was a crushing event which happened during a time before the final weekend of a show. I made the decision to do the last 3 shows (it was offered that I could bow out, which meant closing the show early) and actually found that playing someone else for 2+ hours (in this case, Lt. Colonel Nathan Jessep in “A Few Good Men”) was a relief from the sadness I faced otherwise.

Facing this challenge as a director, I can only attempt to be patient and impart an expectation that the work will be done so that the play can be mounted. I do this by making suggestions about finding time to study lines, cajoling the actors to make this a bigger priority, rearranging schedule objectives, and frankly, lowering my expectations for what I will be able to accomplish in the production.

I know all of the players want the play to come off well. Now I must work with what they are able to give me and do the best job I can, given the circumstances.