Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Courier: It's Not Too Late

Last week I was advised to change my set so there was more space between the pieces. Angling the furniture slightly was also recommended to create better sightlines.

I felt incredibly overwhelmed by these suggestions because I thought it was too late to make such extensive changes. These changes would impact my blocking, lighting, and force the actors to make adjustments they weren't expecting to. Because of feeling so overwhelmed, I worked with Liz after class and she helped me adjust my set and walk through lighting changes I'd need to make. She also stressed the fact that actors adapt to changes like these very quickly so I shouldn't worry about that.

I ended up moving the desk/chair far stage left and angling it toward audience left. This might not sound like a dramatic change but it felt incredibly different for me. Angling furniture has always been an especially difficult thing for me to do because I find it very aesthetically displeasing. This is the first time I've been able to angle a set piece and not feel distracted by it so I have felt very excited about the change.

These changes have also helped the play blossom. The actors did adapt quickly and are thriving in the amount of space they have available to them. The space between the pieces further assists in highlighting my concept of the disjointed structure of memories because it forces the audiences' eyes to constantly shift to different points of the stage, and consequently, shift between different points in time. Overall, this change is a simple one yet a real breakthrough for me as a director, and also improves the piece as a whole through the elements mentioned above.

Making changes to your play in the later stages of the process can be difficult, nerve racking, and confusing, however, these changes are often necessary for making the piece the best that it can be. After seeing the company run-thrus the last two nights, I'm so grateful I listened to my advisor and pushed myself to a place of discomfort because the payoff has been incredible. Seeing my actors thrive in the entire space the Lab Theater provides while also better highlighting my concepts and vision I am striving to bring to life, has been wonderful to experience.

This experience and the corresponding feelings it brought wouldn't have happened if I didn't stop telling myself, "it's too late."

Stay tuned for more,

- Lindsey Esch

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Importance of Stories

As I'm sure you can all tell, I think stories are really important to tell. Storytelling is so ingrained into our cultural identity, every cultural identity, that it becomes really hard to escape stories. But that's just it; why would you want to escape stories? Why do we tell stories instead of just handing everyone an instruction manual? Why bother?

I think it comes from natural human empathy. While by and large, empathy is learned and taught and cultivated as a skill, we have the capacity for it, and access it on a daily basis, even if we think that we don't.

So, why am I writing about stories? Well, I'm writing about theatre, and the way that theatre tells stories. Theatre tells stories to transform, be that your mindset, or just your attitude at the time being. Theatre doesn't need to be high and mighty. I mean, just look at me, I'm directing a short little one act, but in doing so, I'm hopefully doing my job by transforming the audience. If I make them laugh, then that's all I need to do.

I do theatre to make the life of the audience a little less shitty. So, come see the one act festival, which opens on May 31st, and have your life made a little less shitty.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Courier: Vision & Freedom

I know that it's often the case that actors want freedom to move around scenes and make discoveries regarding their characters for themselves. With this, it's still important to maintain one's directorial vision. I've learned that the director must walk a fine line between maintaining ones vision and maintaining their actors' freedom.

How do I think you walk this line? By sacrificing part of your directorial control.  If there are choices that go against your vision at first glance, explore them and see if that truly is the case. I've had one instance already where I thought an actors' choice was going to alter my vision. I allowed them to explore it in the beginning even though I thought I would ask them to make a different choice. However, I discovered that their choice highlights my vision instead. Their choice gives a different feel the the scene by embodying an opposite, and contrasts the end of the play as well as the other characters. I'm even excited to see how their choice grows more in future rehearsals, especially with my guidance.

Being open to ideas that seem like they initially go against one's vision can actually lead to a better portrayal of that vision. This then allows for the exploration of choices outside your original realm of conception, meaning you can guide the actor further in the right direction.

Stay tuned for more.

- Lindsey Esch

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Courier: Directorial Approaches

Hi there everyone,

Something that I've learned during this process is how to better cater to actor needs. Actors have very different ways of approaching their art and require different guidance from their director. I've known this to be the case from my own experiences in actor-director relationships, however, it's different being on the director side. I think having my experiences with this relationship from the actor side helped me in understanding how to handle it from the director side, which I've been forced to apply in this process.

Some actors thrive on a lot of freedom while others find the freedom to significantly explore very unsettling. I have both types of actors in my cast. For some, I give a lot of direction to aid in their characters since they desire specific line notes and assistance. Others, I give a lot of freedom and ask them more questions about their characters and desires. This can feel weird when working with all the actors in the same rehearsal because you have to switch approaches very abruptly.

I really believe that a director needs to cater to the individual needs of their actors in their directing styles. This can be very difficult with more actors, however, since I am working with a small cast I think I can better perfect this skill throughout this process.

Stay tuned for more.

- Lindsey Esch

Monday, May 7, 2018

Is that Good Playwriting or Bad Playwriting?

Time often warps itself without the need for any of the exterior help that a lot of my fellow students take part in and here I've found myself a year later in the blink of an eye. I am no longer the playwright adjacent to the director in this year's One Act Festival, I am now the director. Look at me.

This time around, I didn't have the opportunity to write, so I decided to keep it relevant by choosing a play about playwriting. In fact, you could say that it's even an introduction to it. Playwriting 101: The Rooftop Lesson by Rich Orloff is a wonderful meta piece about the dangers of controlling your characters too tightly while crafting your piece.

I really ought to have done more of these posts by now, but I've been caught up in a flurry of theatrical activities, with rehearsals for this and rehearsals for 1984 (Which opens 5/10! Buy your tickets now!) but I finally have a moment to catch my breath and reflect on this project.

For my cast, I have three wonderful actors, all three of which are relatively new to the OSU theatre scene: I have Patrick Miller as The Teacher, Evan Granquist as The Jumper, and Connor Daliposon as The Good Samaritan. These three guys came to rehearsal every day ready to play, and as a budding director, it couldn't make me happier to have people that are just as excited to be there as I am.

One of the challenges that I;m facing down with this script is that it's short. At only 7 pages long, this is well suited to a one act festival. Almost too well fitted, in fact, to the point that I'm worried that it won't be long enough. In response, I am working on finding specific beats to fill time with physical comedy without adding in a bunch of space to the dialogue, or even slowing down. Such adventures and exploration lead to shots like this:

Thank you for reading and keep your eyes posted for more! The 2018 OSU Spring One Act Festival opens May 31st and runs until June 3rd, so buy your tickets now before we sell out!

Until next time,

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Courier: Finding the Humor

Hi there everyone,

I've had a few rehearsals with my cast so far and I think it's going really well. There has been a lot of character ideas and growth for every actor involved. Another obstacle we've encountered during this has been the need to lighten-up the material.

It's very easy to get stuck in a dramatic piece as being solely dramatic and dramatic throughout. I would argue that this is never the case because human beings are always experiencing moments of humor and pleasure in the midst of life events. The overlapping emotions of happiness and nervousness, excitement and fear, are often experienced by us human beings simultaneously. My goal was to make sure this honesty could be seen in the characters on the stage as well.

A solution I've discovered for this has been to sit everyone down and make a joke out of every single line. It feels foolish at first, however, it ends up being really fun and actors end up exploring humorous physicalities. I got up and walked around with them, doing big movements and asking them questions that forced them to respond with more humor and have more fun.

I found that this was incredibly successful not only in allowing the actors to see the humor in their lines, but also increased the energy in the room. I look forward to applying this to all the scenes and discovering what humor can be kept versus which moments require more serious undertones.

Stay tuned for more.

- Lindsey Esch

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Courier: Scheduling Solutions

Hi there everyone,

Last Sunday we had our first rehearsal. Since then we have had 2 more rehearsals with not everyone being called. This is because the most difficult thing I've had to work around so far has been scheduling. I've worked around it by splitting the script into scenes and monologues, which at most have 3 characters on the stage at one time with minor exceptions. This has actually been helpful since it allowed me to focus in even more on the individual actors.

I know this has been an issue for many of the One Act directors so hopefully they've been able to find a work-around similar to mine, especially since I think this work-around has been quite beneficial.

By the time we need to be doing run-thrus, 1984 will be in the performance stage which means I won't have rehearsal. This works out because I can use 6:00 - 8:00 time slots in the lab to work with my cast.

Stay tuned for more.

- Lindsey Esch