Friday, November 25, 2016

24/hour New Play Festival – The Transmigration Show


I directed a play the first weekend of November for a 24/hour new play festival, and it was awesome!

If you’ve never heard of a 24/h NPF, here’s a quick explanation: 6 directors, 6 writers, 6 teams (of 2-4) actors come together at a meeting at 8pm on Friday night. They are randomly divided up and assigned to each other. The writers stay up all night and write a 10-minute play. Then, the director and actors meet up early in the morning and begin to memorize and rehearse the plays. At 8pm Saturday, 6 ten-minute plays are performed together. 


So, it’s new plays written, rehearsed, and performed within 24 hours. 
 

I’m sort of a vet of these. I did them once or twice a year with a (now gone) group called Immediacy Theatre Project (ITP). When that company died out, I moved to Seattle for a few years, and many of them moved in different directions on the map as well. Others wanted to pursue other interests.

 
my play (mega-talented actresses! Fantastic!)
After a few years without ITP, a few of the old members began feeling the urge to get back into the game, and so a new theatre company, called PRIME, was born.

Their first show was the one I’m writing about, called The Transmigration Show. Transmigration basically means reincarnation, and our theme of the show was various karmic cycles.

I was a director, which means I was in charge of quite a few things: keeping us on schedule, making lists of needed props, firing up the actors when they get stressed, being the one to say “one more time” when we’d all rather not, knowing when to back off and let the actors clear their heads, interpreting the script and helping the actors understand their characters, run lines as needed, ready any technical needs, block out where the actors move on stage, enforce breaks as actual “breaks” rather than more script-reading or stress building, and being chief contact between stage management and actors during the day.

I’ve done acting and writing for these plays before, but I’ve found directing to be the most fun. I’m not the best memorizer of lines and I’m not a late-night person, so there’s that. Beyond that, I love getting to add artistic input from the director’s POV. 


Directing is like being the one in charge of molding the diorama. You can challenge the actors to think differently about the characters. You can block [move characters] out how actions in the play occur. You’re in charge of nonverbals. Basically, the writer, the script, dictates what the actors say, but the director molds the intensity of the words, the movement of the bodies, the props and set pieces the actors interact with, and all the things the words don’t show.




If a line is said a certain way, it can change everything.

There was a moment during my play where one character says, “Hold my hand.”



During our first read, she said the line childishly, as if she’s just a little girl wanting love. But, as a director, I molded the play into a battle between two characters for the compliance of the third, and so “Hold my hand” became “Hold my hand,” the my being said competitively, jealously, as a command, in spite of the rival hand holder.

I loved working with my team of writers, actors, show runners, and crew. They were sooooooo talented and wonderful. I had such a great time. We also had artists paint/photo/etc. and display their pieces. I think, as an aspiring author, nothing beats being surrounded by talented and passionate artists, all collaboratively creating great art.



Reminds me of this awesome quote:

"Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. 

Make good art. I'm serious. 

Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. 

Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art."

- Neil Gaiman