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Macbeth thoughts 10/25

I am almost in disbelief that we open in a week.

Not at all because it doesn’t feel like we’re ready, just because it seems like this process flew by. Tomorrow we tech the show, setting every technical cue and then running the transitions from scene to scene until they are smooth. Sunday we spend a 12 hour day in the theater nailing anything outstanding down and accomplishing two complete runs of the show before we will all go home very tired. Next Wednesday’s first preview is right around the corner, as is next Friday’s opening night.

I’ve really enjoyed working with this cast. It’s a nice balance of folks I’ve never directed before (Maggie Mularz and Dahlia Legault), folks I’ve directed quite a bit (Chris Holcom and Katrina Stevenson), a few I’ve never worked with in this context (Giles Davies, Dayton Sinkia, Nicole Jeannine Smith) and then Jonathan Cho, who I just realized has been part of the room for the last three shows I’ve directed.

Not putting anyone’s work or the task set before them into any kind of hierarchy, but I do not envy the four Powers right now (Maggie, Kat, Chris, Jon) as they work to not only physically and vocally distinguish the many characters they inhabit throughout the show but also now to add on working with all of the many little signifiers, props and costume pieces, that function to help the audience further distinguish who they are at any given moment. It’s really cool to watch though as they slip and slide from persona to persona, stalling occasionally in that mysterious, ambiguous space between where we see a glimpse of the beyond. If I’m not making sense to you right now, go back and read my last blog post about the show. πŸ™‚

My Macbeths and Macduffs may only have to worry about the one role, but they are by no means coasting. All four continue to find the nuance, the depth in these parts. Giles, Dahlia and I have been working hard to avoid the many cliches that can come with these roles and I really think audiences will find themselves surprised at the journey of this couple. It’s our belief that you have to really care about these two, and that they needed to be on a more level playing field than is often portrayed on stage. The disintegration of that loving partnership is what is tragic. Once that bond is severed they both hurtle down a dark path to a Very Bad End.

In this treatment of the show we also have the added challenge of trying to more clearly establish the relationship between the Macduffs, one that does not exist in Shakespeare’s original text (again see my last post for clarity on this) and stand them in contrast with the Macduffs. Taking the two of them to that level and not allowing them to exist merely as plot devices has been a rewarding journey to take with both Dayton and Nicole.

I hit the point last night where I knew that this show is ready for tech. There’s not terribly much more I can offer until I start to see it with all of the other moving parts, and that is a GREAT thing to be able to say as we walk into tech weekend. We’re ready.

Speaking of tech … I walked into this process thinking I was going to not only direct but handle all of the audio and video. That was a dumb idea. πŸ™‚ My hands are full enough with directing the show, running the company, teaching full time at USF and trying to write that pesky dissertation … I’m not even sure how many full-time jobs I’m up to at this point,. Enter Dave Steinweg and Lorenzo de la Cantara who’ve saved my bacon with the sound and the video, respectively.

As we’ve inched closer to tech I look around at the whole room and marvel that this entire group of artists has kicked in at a ridiculously high level. It’s a true ensemble. People like to talk all the time about “collaboration” in the theater, and often those people are blowing hot air. Often what those folks mean is that they’re in control of “delegation” — manipulating an illusion of inclusion. Artists who say others can bring to the table whatever they desire, so long as it’s what say/think/want. That’s not at all the case here. Most of us are also wearing more than one hat now. Chris is making blood, Giles is choreographing fights and helping the cast with text, Matt Ray is (as always) keeping a secondary director’s eye on the show for me in addition to his stage management duties, Kat is also building costumes and props. I’m thankful, and humbled.

I’d be insincere though if I didn’t acknowledge that this can also be the most terrifying point in a process. The period where you feel like this pack of actors doing this interesting stuff seems pretty awesome, and you’ve seen a bunch of drawings and have had a bunch of conversations about all the other neat stuff that in theory will surround those actors and it all seems pretty awesome, too. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, enjoy a night off and cast it up to the Fates that all of this is going to come together and actually be something amazing. I can’t imagine that this lot would turn out anything else, but … uncertainty is uncertain. Nerves aside, I have faith. The fact that I can get so wrapped up in this show as it is now watching them in street clothes under fluorescent lighting has to be a great sign. To know that this crazy idea I had in putting this show together with a cast of 8 really and truly works, and that the concept disappears within a few minutes leaving you with only the story and the storytelling feels pretty damn good.

I hope that audiences make this all worthwhile. See you there?

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