Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Theatre Salad(an answer for a curious Monkey)
The Theatre is an insidious creature that, once it has infected you, is worse than AOL and Real Player combined. Forever will it dominate your destiny. I have been an actor, a singer, a dancer(granted we were called the clod squad and put way far upstage), a designer, a builder, and a laborer. The one thing I never said was, "What I really want to do is direct." I'm not quite sure how it happened, but sometime in 1996 or 1997 I became the director of the student improv comedy and sketch troupe at PBCC. At first I just helped them organize the shows for smoother running, but I quickly began to help them hone the sketches for time and for humor, and before I knew it I was directing. And they were happy with it. Not too long after that I insinuated myself into a one-act festival where I directed a show my friend Whoopi had written many years prior called Signal 20. I had been a cast member of the original production, so it was very interesting directing a show I had once been in, but it was a huge success, and we all had a blast. Fast forward to grad school. I got the directing itch again, and this time I had the privilege to direct THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (abridged) which is a hilarious comedy by The Reduced Shakespeare Company. It was written for three men, but I cast two men and one woman, a freshman, a senior, and a grad student, and once again I was blessed with a cast that was absolutely brilliant. The show was a huge success, and again everyone involved had a great time.
A few years later, in Louisiana, our school always finished the year with a series of student directed one-acts. They were the final projects of graduating seniors, but that year we only had one graduating senior. So in order to flesh out the evening we brought back an alumnus who was still in the area, and I asked to direct a new absurdist piece that my friend Steve had written. It was called Standing Still and it was a Waiting for Godot-esque play that dealt with the human capacity to blindly follow authority even to ridiculous extremes. My actors were a bit green, but again they dove into their parts and totally shone.
Bob and Roy
My cast(Jessica and Tracy), my Stage Manager(Tink), and me.
Then I escaped Louisiana and returned to the sun drenched shores of my beloved planet. I hung up my director's hat and concentrated on just building and lighting stuff. Then at HCC we did Romeo and Juliet. It was a small, heavily edited version, but it went over well. I fear I cannot recall exactly why, but we remounted the play a couple of months later, and since the director was busy giving birth I was tapped to re-rehearse the show and get it back on its feet. I wasn't to change anything, just get the actors back where they were. At least that was my directive. I think I tweaked a bit more than I planned(and I did have the director's permission to fix the fight scenes), but no one complained, and the show went over quite well. The actor who played the Nurse, Dahlia, and I became friends and I showed her the video of Standing Still. She fell in love with the play and made me promise that if I ever did it again that she would be in the show. It wasn't too long after that that I heard from Steve. He was in the process of getting Standing Still published, but it needed to be produced one more time. I told him I'd work on it. That was nearly two years ago. Finally the stars have aligned and I work at a place where we have a space, and the time, and Dahlia is still available and very interested. The play is written for two men, but the lack of men at the school in Louisiana forced me to use two women, and now I'm doing the show with one man and one woman, but the nature of absurdism makes the gender issue a bit less important. We will have our first rehearsal Thursday night, and I am very excited. Steve has even indicated he might be able to come down here and see the show. So not only am I directing a play I love, with an actor I adore, in a theatre I enjoy, I'm also going to get to see my dear friend for the first time in years.
Sometimes this beast that is Theatre gives back a little.
And it was groovy. :-)
Marius Ford Coppola