(Don’t panic, I’m actually really enjoying this. But directing is bloody hard work). We’re now a month into rehearsals for A Fine Bright Day Today and it’s already taking shape. It’s also T minus 4 weeks to opening night – which does rather focus the mind. Erk.
So far, all is well – I have a wonderful cast of 3 people who are all growing nicely into their characters, taking direction and learning their lines. They’re still making me smile, laugh and get a bit choked up (as they should be), even though I’ve now read it/watched it about 50 times. No one has panicked about any of my requests. However I’m a bit rubbish at the whole taking charge thing (I’m terrified of coming across as tyrannical or patronising), so it feels a bit odd giving instructions. My main difficulty has been curbing my tendency to chat and that I have a habit of letting tea breaks go on a bit longer than they probably should. But cast bonding is important and it’s often during these relaxed moments that I remember random things.
Also, my note taking needs improvement – I need to learn to write neatly, quickly and with clarity. We’re now at a point where I’d like to give my cast fair chance to run a whole scene without being stopped every 3 seconds – but my notes are either an illegible scrawl, or a haphazard collection of words which make bugger all sense an hour later. Things like: “Further downstage”, but with no context. I think it’ll take some of the finest minds in Bletchley Park to decipher what that hell I meant by: “Look move chair on treacle. Shifty.”
I’ve also given myself a job and a half in aiming for lit, choreographed scene changes – some are almost scenes in themselves (I fully blame the recent production of Let The Right One In for this). No blackouts, no people silently creeping about in the gloom – props will be brought on and taken off as part of the action, making the whole thing completely seamless. In theory. A bit ambitious for a relatively novice director, but with so many short scenes, I can’t bear the idea of plunging the audience into darkness every couple of minutes. I’m just hoping it’s going to work.
There’s also the mountain of backstage things to deal with. Props, costumes, lights, sound, music…… The music has been easy to choose, but very tricky to assign to scene changes. Some are immediately obvious – on others, I’ve got 2 or 3 possibles. I really need to sit down, pick through them methodically and make decisions (and most importantly, stick to them – I am often prone to changes of mind – I’ve had to really rein that in). Then there’s the logistical nightmare of getting props on and off stage – what needs to be pre-set on which side of the stage, where and when it comes on, where and when it goes off – all requiring a finicky level of precision. But hey, at least it’s not a Punchdrunk production with marauding audience who might start picking stuff up and moving it about……
‘A Fine Bright Day Today’ by Philip Goulding will be on from 5th-14th February 2015 at The Miller Centre Theatre, 30 Godstone Road, Caterham, Surrey, CR3 6RA. Tickets are £8 and £10, available from http://www.millercentretheatre.org or our Box Office 01883 349 850. Please come!