Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Theatre And Misunderstood Bad Guys

In this year's production of Hound of the Baskervilles,  I'm the bad guy. Not that I'm acting, I never spend any time on the stage. But, I think if you were to look up "Misunderstood Villain" you would probably find "Student Theatre Director" as one of the first entries. Sigh. With all of the nagging, and correcting, and "take-it-from-the-beginning-ing,'' I'm always surprised that I don't have a full scale mutiny on my hands by end of the production.

Throughout the course of the three months that we work with these students, we spend hours breaking down scenes, and beating the tiniest details to a pulp. Students have to be corrected, and corrected and corrected again. "Stand like this." "Don't move that way." "Don't turn your back to the audience." "PROJECT!" I lecture. Lectures about memorization, lectures about speaking clearly, lectures about focusing and character development. By the end of any given rehearsal most of the actors are probably ready to do me in or at the very least lock me in the nearest closet.

I think that my cast, at any given time during the production, has reason to question my sanity. When we run through the same three minutes of a scene ten times in a row, only for me to say "Go through that one more time for good measure."  I'm almost positive they question my stability when we repeatedly rework one line until they have "just the right tone of voice."

Why? Why do I mercilessly "pick on" these kids? Because I know they can do better. Because I can see the potential. Because I have a vision of the bigger picture and what the production can actually be. While the students are still lost in the land of lines, I have an image in my mind of what that final product will look like. The decisions I make starting with casting and right on through to the final curtain call are always for the best of the cast, the crew and the show.

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