Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Veins into bendy straws

I'm completely in awe of this kid.

Ok, so, the experiment.
Basically, I've just cast my version of The Crucible, which is being performed in just over 9 weeks, and i thought I'd try and keep some sort of production diary charting the ups and downs, the stresses and triumphs, of the whole rehearsal process. So here goes.

First off I'll tell you about the audition process. I hate auditions. I cannot wait until I'm a big enough director that i can get a casting agent to do it for me. It is my least favourite part of the whole process. The thought of sitting in a room for 8 hours at a stretch, listening to the same speech over and over again and having to judge people puts me on edge. It's horrible when there are too many people and you have to not cast people who are good, but it's even worse when you don't have enough people audition. This thought keeps me awake at night. The hour before auditions start i can't be spoken to, I'm paralysed with terror in case no-one turns up. Normally my fears are completely unfounded and everything runs smoothly.


Last week was the first round of auditions. The Crucible has a cast of 20. Over the 10 hours of auditions, spread out over 2 days, i had 21 people audition. I wept. There were some great people who auditioned, but not everyone who auditioned was good enough to cast. I re-called all but 2 of the people i saw. Then came the weekend, where i was at the catwalk show and couldn't focus on the play like i really needed to. I had to come up with some sort of solution. In re-reading the play i managed to cut out 3 characters without cutting any of the lines, and i booked some more auditions for Wednesday. I couldn't sleep on Saturday night because i had anxiety dreams about casting. My worst directorial fear was coming true.

On Monday were the recalls, and almost everyone performed very well. Monday evening was the director's meeting, where the directors of all the plays on this term come together and fight over actors. It all went surprisingly well, and i cast 10 out of my 17 roles. This meant that i had to find 7 people in my auditions on Wednesday, which were open to people who missed the auditions last week. Again, i didn't sleep because of anxiety dreams.

Wednesday came, and an hour after auditions opened i had only seen one person. I was on the brink of tears. Then people started showing up. Good people. I managed to cast the remaining roles without recalling, and started feeling slightly more confident. Booked rehearsal rooms and told people to meet this evening at 6 for the first read through.

So we get to today. The scripts which i ordered from amazon don't arrive, so my plans for a read through are scuppered and i have to come up with a rehearsal plan not remotely based on the text. At about 5:15pm, i get a text from an actress saying she can't be in the play. I try and remain calm, text message a girl i really wanted but couldn't place and offered her the role. I only hyperventilated for a minute. I wait in the common room and gradually the cast show up. They all think I'm crazy because I'm checking the time every two seconds and manically counting them to see if everyone is there.

We go into the rehearsal room and i explain that we have no scripts, and that i re-cast someone about half an hour before, and that we won't be doing a read through. Everyone seems understanding, excited and eager. We introduce ourselves and play some drama games. The cast seem to get on well and respond to the exercises, but are slightly unfocused and chatty. I put it down to nerves. Rather than play generic icebreaker games which aren't particularly productive in translation to performance, i chose exercises from physical theatre, getting people thinking about proximity, contact and movement, as well as hopefully breaking down inhibitions. Ideally playing these on their first meeting will mean that when we come to the read through tomorrow the cast will be less nervous in front of each other and really willing to go for it.

All in all I'm pretty happy with how today went, and much more relaxed about the whole process than i was when i woke up this morning. Feeling quietly optimistic.
Bring on the read through.

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