The cast did a glorious job at Friday night’s opening of Ink at Playhouse on the Square. They received a well deserved standing ovation. And now we’ve got our first review in from the Memphis Flyer, headlined Murdoch’s Legacy: Fast-Paced Ink Delivers at Circuit Playhouse.
The Circuit cast is solid and the production smartly executed. It’s entertaining from the get-go and stirs up enough issues to provoke discussions long after the final bows.
Check it out.
And we’re open.
The cast did an amazing job in this final push and received a much deserved standing ovation. We’re off an running with The Playhouse on the Square production of James Graham’s Ink.
We’re four days from Opening Night. Still a lot of work to do but getting ready to break some legs.
I’m not sure which summons the doubt demons more: Thinking over your work the next morning in the cold light of day or watching that work unfold standing in the back of a darkened theatre. One moment you’re thrilled with how you’re telling a story on stage. The next you’re wondering if you’ve lost your mind.
Self-doubt is an affliction most artists recognize. You see it in every mirror. No one questions you more than you. No one argues with you louder than you. And generally, no one has any idea but you. It’s a lonely, creepy, dark place.
I’ve reached that point, now that we’re rehearsing on stage, where I’m living and breathing more doubt than air. My oxygen intake will decrease in fits and starts over the next 10 days while the doubt swells. Things start to take shape and become searingly solid on stage and in my brain I’m thinking “wow, that’s good” simultanesouly with what I did with that moment just sucks. I dream the show at night and wake up in a cold sweat with anxieity over a moment I’ve just dream watched.
Fortunately I’ve learned better how to face those demons. I generally trust my gut and my instincts. But every now and then my gut ties itself up into a knot of Gordian proportions. That tangle tightens when you look to you collaborators for some sign of affirmation one way or the other and the answer you see in their eyes is “you’re the boss.”
Well, yeah. That’s true.
But you both long for and hope against pushback.
The dreams are another thing. If they keep landing on the same moments it means I need to reexamine that work. Or I just ate the wrong thing before falling asleep.
On the other hand, if those moments of self-doubt don’t creep in I would know I’m just pretending. Decisions beget decisions. Bold ones beget bigger moments of doubt and bigger chances of success. And bigger demons.
So. I’m back in the river of doubt. In a paradox, it feels good and right to be here again, swirling throught the rapids, simultaneously wondering if I’m just all wet and have hit my head on a rock
We moved into the theatre last night. Feels like home.
A new focus begins.
Tonight we head to the stage for our produciton of James Graham’s Ink at Playhouse on the Square. We finished our work in the rehearsal room last night and everything begins to finally take shape tonight.
The pace will begin to quicken. The show will begin to breathe differently. Stage pictures will begin to come into focus. And we’ll find out just what we really have as we get to use the different levels of the set and larger scale.
I’m looking forward to seeing the show with a different eye tonight and have a few days before we add the other technical elements to really dig in with the actors. Because once projections, lighting, sound, and costumes jump into the fray later this week the final picture will begin to emerge after we go through the usual “fuck it all up with tech” period.
Leaving the rehearsal room I think we’re telling a good story. It’s certainly different in some aspects from the one we started out telling and we’re about to find out how much different.
While the scale increases so does the scrutiny. Each move, each line, and each moment gain weight and feel like they’re viewed under a microscope. It’s easier to see when something isn’t hitting just right and simultaneously more difficult to make sure the eye is in just the right place to do so.
Last night we had the first run-thru of the show. As is typical there was some good and some not so good. Typically on a first run you loose about 30% of what you’ve been doing well. Our score? We fell back about 45%.
Not to worry. We’ll get that back and more as we prepare to head to the stage for spacing rehearsals this Sunday.
It’s an all too familar part of the process and the ritual of rehearsals. Each cast member is moving at their own pace, not necessarily yet at the show’s pace, or not necessarily with each other. Quite a few dropped the script for the first time last night. And that always features pain and gain before the text actually takes root in their brains and bodies.
From a director’s point of view it’s both enlightening and a bit infuriating. The story starts talking but only in fits and starts. But it starts talking. You watch some of your actors struggle without the crutch of the script (look Ma, I’ve got hands!) It’s also assessment time about what works, what’s going to work, and what might not work and need to be changed. We’re repeating, refining as we continue to explore.
The words aren’t really their’s yet. The words are still things they see on that page in their mind that they’re no longer holding onto for dear life. The ritual always reveals just how much of a crutch the script pages becomes. An actor will struggle with a sequence of lines and then choose to pick up the script again. The minute they pick it up the text comes back to life within them. And in most instances without them actually looking at those pages in their hands.
You have to take that neceessary step before you can really get your feet under you and we took some of those necessary steps last night even with the stumbles and bumbles.
The biggest takeaway? Today’s another day. Take some things apart and put them back together again for the next run on Saturday, our last day in the rehearsal space.
Check out this video interview on Bluff City Live about our production of James Graham’s Ink at Playhouse on the Square featuring cast memember Stephanie Almeida. Stephanie plays Stephanie Rahn, the first Page 3 girl in The Sun after Rupert Murdoch’s buys the paper.
I’d embed the interview here, but that doesn’t seem possible so if you’ll need to click on this link to go to station’s webpage and view it there. Enjoy!