Through the Looking Glass closed a little over a week and a half ago, and it’s been really strange not being at the theatre 24/7. August has been fairly quiet so far (despite the fact that now that I’m not working on a show, all my friends and family want to hang out ALL AT ONCE). When I look back on 2014 so far, I realize just how much I’ve had on my plate. I went from Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. to Mrs. Ballyshannon to TTLG to Macbeth to Port Stanley Festival Theatre Camp, all back-to-back-to-back. And this is after taking a self-imposed break for the fall of 2013 to spend some more time with my husband. (I can’t believe that next month we’ll have been married for a whole year. A WHOLE YEAR. Where did the time go?!)
So the first thing I’ve learned from these last 7 months? IT’S OK TO TAKE A BREAK!!!
That being said, the Fall 2014 season at Original Kids is going to be announced tomorrow (YAY!), and I have another project in the works that I’ll be starting on Sunday… so perhaps I really haven’t learned anything at all…
But, let’s try anyway:
- As always, I’ve been continuing to build off of What I’ve Learned: Peter Pan Edition and What I’ve Learned: Little Mermaid Edition. I love working with kids, and the more I do it, the more I grow in my own confidence and skills.
- Try to keep your cool in stressful situations, like when there’s a power outage. Remember that some things are beyond your control, and do your best to present a positive attitude (even if you’re freaking out inside). When you are a leader, it’s up to you to set the mood and tone. Your actors will react based upon your reaction.
- It’s important to create a safe environment during your rehearsals, so your actors feel comfortable taking risks and pushing themselves out of the comfort zone. Art Fidler gave me a wonderful compliment after seeing the show: “Your actors were fearless, and I especially loved seeing the girls being comediennes!” Be fearless and take risks as a director. Embrace the weird. Again, your actors will follow your lead.
- Let your actors play during rehearsals. Let them try different ways of performing a scene, a line, a reaction. Actors often have wonderful ideas that you never would have thought of — let them share their ideas, and then you can shape and mold those ideas into an amazing whole.
- Allow and embrace mistakes. One of the funniest moments in the show was when Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were spinning around the balcony support rails and both said at the same time, “You ARE in a dream right now!” That moment came out of a mistake in the rehearsal process — only one of the Tweedles was supposed to say that line, but they both said it at the same time, because they knew each others’ lines (as young actors tend to do). It turned out to be a wonderful mistake, and I immediately said, “KEEP IT!!!” That moment got laughs and applause every performance!
- Look beyond the literal, and again, push your boundaries and take risks with your show. It would have been very easy to put Alice in a pinafore and pouffy dress and have everything be proper and British, but that’s what everyone expects when it comes to Alice shows. I decided that I wanted to make this production fun and modern. In this version of TTLG, Alice is supposed to be playing chess with her pet cat. I switched it up and our Alice played online chess on her laptop and spoke to her friend “Kitty” on a gaming headset. She wore a blue sleeveless top and white shorts layered over funky leggings, which I wanted to be a Disneybound-style homage to Alice. As well, our Humpty Dumpty got a radical makeover. My H.D. was played by a young lady, who asked me early in the process if she had to wear a fat suit or egg costume. It’s bad enough when a girl has to play a boy role (pretty common in youth theatre, but still…) but I had a plan! H.D. had a country-style song, so she was changed into “Miss Humpty Dumpty,” a Taylor Swift-esque diva wearing a cute white dress, white vest, and gold belt — reminiscent of a sunny-side-up egg — with a silver and gold bedazzled microphone. My actress loved her costume and felt comfortable, she looked fabulous and gave a fantastic performance.
I’m sure there’s a bunch more thoughts that I’m missing, but for now I’ll leave you with this little video of some fun moments during the rehearsal process: