Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Looking back

It has been a few days since the show has closed and it is a great time to look back and reflect on the process. I never thought I would be a director. I know directing a one-act in the bigger picture of life is not a big deal, but for me it was unexpected. Last year I decided to take the directing series at OSU and have the opportunity to direct my first one-act. My experience was not my favorite, because I was so busy with another show, but I still liked directing. Since then, and in combination with this experience, I have developed the beginnings of my directing style.

I have found that I am not the kind of director that gets very nervous. I don't get nervous watching my show or having others watch it. I also don't get nervous when something goes wrong on stage in front of an audience. When something goes wrong it can actually be quite entertaining because I can sit back and watch the actors' lives flash before their eyes. I really hope I have given them the preparation for this to not happen, but sometimes it does. After seeing a show more than 10 times the mistakes are sometimes the best part, for me, not the actors or audience. It is the beauty of live entertainment! The most entertaining mistake to watch on stage was the Saturday night performance of Cheep! Cheep!. When the lights came up on the "Ball-in-Cup" scene, it was an instant disaster as the ball in the cup fell off the counter. On to the floor it rolled with the actor's face saying "oh my god, what am I going to do". Now for those of you who have not scene the show, there are three cups with a ball in it. A person has to guess which cup has the ball in it to win. The cups usually stay on the counter but this time it fell! Without being able to describe how perfect the cover was by an actor on stage, the whole situation was so great the audience gave an applause just for the brilliance. The audience loved it! It kept me laughing in my seat for the rest of the show.

Besides the mistakes, there were some wonderful moments. I saw something different in every show every night. I saw actors grow in their performances and interact with their audience. The process from beginning to end was well worth it. I did not think directing would be the direction I would go, but I am sure glad I took this path and was given the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I may have neglected a few days...

True, there were a number of performances in which I did not respond afterwards the way I had intended, but miraculously, there were no negative reasons to set one performance apart from another. Each night went as smoothly as the next and each night I was just as entertained as the previous show. It was a pleasure working with the cast and crew of this year's One Act Festival and everyone should be really proud of what we all managed to put together.

But more than that, I give props to the other writers and directors, especially Sam Zinsli, for making this experience all the more special. Sure there were times when we all wanted to kill each other and it wasn't always smooth sailing, but I formed some really valuable friendships over these last few months and on top of that I was able do the thing I love most. This opportunity to put my playwriting skills to work has been invaluable and I'll certainly never forget it.



Monday, June 8, 2015

And Then There Were None.

Well, we're done.

This crazy little ride that has been The Mark  is officially over. Complete. It's pretty weird.

Yesterday, my parents finally came and saw the show. I was especially excited to see how my father-- an English major-- responded. Well, as fate would have it, we sold out (again again), so my seat and another director's were given-up for them. Instead of sitting among the audience we sat in the catwalk and watched all the action below. It's almost surreal sitting above everyone and watching from a birds-eye view. You feel removed, completely separated. About half way through The Mark's closing performance (one of their very best, I might add) it hit me this was the last time I was ever going to witness this one-act's performance (at least in this setting). I took a moment to really be present and soak-up the happenings below. Looking at all we accomplished, the full house below, and my parents laughing together gave me a sort of closure on this project. We'd accomplished our jobs. And it was time to let go.

Strike was quick and, before I knew it, we were done. After a lovely meeting with my parents I was home alone, left to really contemplate the last few months. So what did I learn? The answer to that is a lengthy one-- one that I'm honestly still trying to figure out as of yet. So, far, what I do know is:

I learned how to create not one, but an entire cast of characters, and bring them into existence onto a tangible piece of paper completely by myself.

I learned how to let go of each character and give each one individually to an actor.

I learned to hold my tongue when my director was making a choice I just didn't agree with.

I learned the value of a fresh set of eyes and how many wonderful discoveries are made when a director interprets your text in new, creative ways.

I learned how much work goes into a play before a script even reaches an actor's hands.

I learned just how incredible it is to sit back every night and watch the actors work their butts off in a performance while you do nothing.

I hated this process sometimes, but I usually loved it.

Ultimately, I don't know what comes next. I loved serving a dramatist, but still prefer acting in the end, I think. But I don't want to stop writing altogether either. I can't, really. I have a 10 minute play I'm pretty proud of that I'm considering sending to a few festivals after some edits and I'm currently preparing to begin writing a full-length play on my former neighbor, Dr. Ambrose Shields, for my Honors College thesis (more on that later). I'd love to see another one of my productions staged someday. But The Mark will always be special. It'll always be my first. Anna, Reilly, Burke, Max, and Mason will always hold a special place in my heart for bringing this wacky little play to life, and for that I couldn't be more thankful.

Thanks for sharing in this journey,

Opening Night and Beyond

Well here we are the day after strike. All the actors have said their goodbyes and are now finishing up finals and making summer plans. The dressing room and make-up rooms are inexplicably clean and all the furniture is back downstairs, and the shows are a not-so-distant memory. Reflecting on opening  night to closing there are so many things that go though my head. The fist night I was nervous, but happy because I was around friends, waiting how everyone would receive  this goofy play. My first thought was that they'd all hate it and not get any of the jokes, but when I heard that first chuckle when Isaac slammed the floor I knew we'd be okay and I eased up and just watched the show. That has been the hardest part for me, just letting it go. I'm so proud of the wonderful actors and Teri who made it as funny and cute as it was, I just have issues I guess. Having something you wrote up there, with your name attached to every line is scary! Night after night I found myself blending more with the audience than with a self-critic though. I enjoyed cheering on everyone else's play, why not my own? It was good and I'm proud of how it turned out. So I left my inhibitions on the ladder to the catwalk and just started to have fun. I even remember Thursday night when all the prop issues went on, cups wen missing or lids gone, the mustache never worked, but it was all sort of funny because I got to see how the actors dealt with it.

Sold out last show (this is our set!)

 Every night had something different to bring, and wether I watched from the catwalk or the audience I felt very privileged to be a part of this process. I thank Teri and the cast for dealing with my neuroticism. 

Cheep Cheep Blog 8 - Joseph Workman

Our Sunday matinee performance was solid, though both actors and audience had energy typical of a summer weekend afternoon. I was mindful that this was the last time Cheep, Cheep! would be running, admiring the work Ken Richardson and shop students had done on our fair booth, our smart & silly costumes designed by Sheri Long and Cory Warren, and all the work and time from Alex Ries and the actors in and outside rehearsals.  It's been great to be a part of this process. Not only did I appreciate the free mushroom bacon swiss cheeseburgers, courtesy of our freshmen actors' surplus dining hall money, but I enjoyed the company of my cast at our pre-show cafeteria feasts.  I had a blast playing tag, ninja, and some odd foot game.  Feet on feet.  Our cast was also kind enough to buy Alex and I chicken biscuits and sign cards, and Casey even brought in a live a chicken for us to... I don't know. I don't know what the expectation/intention was there.  There was a lot of secrecy about it.  I was taken to a room and shown a box.  I looked inside, at it - the chicken.  It was chill.

A. Ries and I had a couple of brief, knowing, and congratulatory handshakes at the end of the run.  I spent so much time with him on this project, working and discussing each step of the way, and he's already off to California as I write this - I probably won't see him for a long time.  He's been great to work with and I've been told appreciative things from the cast.  I was happy with how things turned out; most of the changes for the final draft were thanks to his input and our cooperative effort.  I was approached by several people who told me that the slow motion egging scene was their favorite part of the whole show.  I got to tell them that it wasn't in the script; rather, the whole effect was Ries's idea - I wasn't even present for the rehearsal when that idea came into fruition.  Anyway, he'll be missed and good luck to him.

Things end, and change quickly.  I am sad but also glad this production is over.  It's time to finish up the term and look forward to Midsummer Night's Dream as this summer's Bard in the Quad production.

Cheep Cheep Blog 7

Saturday night was our best performance.  It was our second night of being sold out, though this time there were actual bodies to filling seats to support the fact.  I felt grateful that my parents had bothered to come down to see it, and fortunate that they happened to come that night. Starved from Friday night, every show fed off this audience's energy.  Not only was the house full, but some of our actors (at least/especially Casey) had some friends or a fan club in the audience, which certainly helped give Cheep, Cheep! extra support.  I noticed it in the pacing and the volume, and the way they seemed to relish in what they were doing.  I could tell the actors were focused on giving back to the audience; they waited for laughs, tried new things, and were receptive to reactions to material they had never heard before.  We also had a great things-going-wrong-live moment when Jackson accidentally knocked over the cup with the ball in it from the booth.  There was an awkward pause. Rather than lose his composure, Alex Tauss, one of our novice actors, stayed focused in the moment and took advantage of the incident by simply pointing to the obvious answer and giving his line a whole new degree of bluntness, saying, "That one."  He then had the mindfulness to go pick up the fallen props for his fellow actors.  Another one of my favorite moments was a collective gasp when the audience realized Chester was going to give the bike to Margery instead of Maxwell, showing that the story was being told, stakes were raised, and people were invested in what was happening.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Closing Performance!

Well all things come to an end. When good things come to an end it's even harder. Today was the last performance of the 2015 Spring One-Act Festival. It was a great show that completely sold out! While thinking about the show during the closing performance, my brain was blooded with memories and emotion.

Sometimes in a process of putting on a show everyone is faced with stress or things they wish they did better. People say, "oh I can't wait for this show to be over". This is because it takes a lot of work to put on a show. It is time, work, work, time, time, and more time. It becomes the life. However, watching the last performance with my fellow students next to me and nervous actors on stage, I realized how much I love the life of the show with all the stress, drama, mistakes, and nerves. These elements make up the fun as we all learn right along side each other to become better. We support each other. My experiences with the playwrights, directors, designers, actors, and crew have allowed me to grow as a director, create new friendships, and form stronger relationships.

Watching the last show was a moment to relive all the memories and see opportunities for the future. The One-Act Festival is my last show as an undergraduate at OSU. There is something special about the connection with people and a play. When it all ends if feels like a small part of the life I was living just ended. But meeting all the new actors who were involved, I can see a lot of hope and potential for great shows in the future. It is time to move on and get focused on finals and graduation. Besides, there will always be another show! Thanks to everyone for the unforgettable experience!