In a Jar…at the Smithsonian. Now that was an experience. I’m so glad I did it, and I’m so glad it’s over. Actually, by Saturday the production had attained that great marathon runner’s gait. The cast was sufficiently warmed up to do a full three-week run. Maybe next time we can do it longer. Dennis (the AD) and I were talking about making this an annual event – doing a weekend of shows right before Christmas that offers an alternative to most of the other events around town. I’m definitely interested in doing it, so we just need to find a space that works. DiverseWorks is a great place to do a show (especially when they have an exhibit up) and they gave us a great price, but without the grant backing things up we wouldn’t even break even. Unless we doubled ticket prices to $10. Which is still a reasonable price for an evening of theatre, but I like to keep it dirt cheap in the interest of getting people in the door.
Here are a few things I learned during this experience.
ONE – I should NOT be writing the show as late in the process as I was. Duh, right? I was still writing monologues when I should have been doing PR work. Also, it added a huge undercurrent (overcurrent?) of stress for me and the actors having so many things still up in the air when we started rehearsal.
TWO – If an actor is being an asshole, even if it’s five days before the dress rehearsal – fire him. There are too many talented actors in Houston who are ready and willing to work. No need to put up with prima donna bullshit. And I would guess that pretty much everyone who came to the show never noticed that one of the actors had only been involved for five days before we opened.
THREE – Hire more people. Though it was fun doing most everything for this show, it was totally exhausting. I’m still recovering from the cold I picked up after opening night. It would have been worth the money to have hired one or two more people to take on some of the shit I was doing.
FOUR – I’m not sure I want to direct again. My work or anyone else’s. Just as actors bring that actor magic to the process, so too do directors. When the director is also the playwright, you miss out on that extra bit of input. And I didn’t have much fun doing it. It felt like work most of the time. This gets into that sticky control area of my personality – I think I can relinquish it, but then I worry about seeing my work done “wrong.” Best case would be a director who doesn’t mind getting some input from the playwright (and producer) during the process. It’s a rare director who will put up with that, so I don’t know. I guess if you see my name down as the director on my next project, that’ll answer that question.
FIVE – You make your money on the donation bar.