Monday, November 17, 2008

Miracles of Midsummer

Yesterday someone stopped me at church and asked how I was handling everything.

I think people have some strange impression that I'm busy. I'm not.

Or I don't feel very busy. I don't have a regular job. I teach 3 classes right now. I have to be at work 3 times a week. And two of those times are on Wednesday. I usually have to go into the school for meetings here and there. I have to grade papers and write exams. I will work with students outside of class, and last week I had to work with a professor on the online system. But I only teach 2 days a week.

I'm not sure why people think I'm so busy.

Weekends can get hectic because I'm directing the Stake Play. Here in Washington DC land, they have things called Stake Plays. I'd never heard of such things before living here. Who would try and wrangle over-committed mormons to commit to enough rehearsal time to warrant a decent production?

My Stake!

This whole project started a year ago when I was called to the Stake Cultural Arts Committee. The committee head called me up and explained that we needed to put on a play, but that we didn't have much of a budget.

It has become a mission of mine to show people that you can create a wonderful theatrical experience with human ingenuity and dedication--and leave all the stuff that costs money out.

She had me at "no budget".

We decided on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I like it because it's funny. Period. And because it spreads out the bulk of the responsibility across several characters. It's an ensemble piece.

In February I started working with Maryland Shakespeare Festival and they asked Bridget and I to direct a Middle School Production of Midsummer. They gave us a cut script and some great ways to extend the acting opportunities to more students.

It was like God was handing me a little how to manual for the upcoming stake production.

When we held auditions in May, I was able to use the other script to guide my cuttings--and I was able to extend the cast from 12 to 30ish. (I can't remember the exact number and I don't want to look it up right now.)

Besides that--I was able to familiarize myself with the script. Not that I wasn't intimately acquainted before . . .

Rehearsals started in September. The little cherubs were supposed to memorize their lines over the summer.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Oberon quit without even telling me. (If any of you know Ben Jarvis, give him a swift kick for me.)

There were a multitude of problems. People had this attitude that if they didn't have a lead, they weren't needed at all the rehearsals. I have had to work hard to teach them the concept of ensemble. Even Saturday one of the actors wanted to know if Bottom would get his own bow. I love Bottom. I think the guy playing Bottom is great--but in an ensemble cast--everyone bows together. Period. (Well, they bow in small groups . . .)

This weekend I had several strikes against me.
1) Conflicts
2) I was sick.
3) The fire alarm went off 2 times during a run thru.
4) We were told by the Stake that we could not do a tech rehearsal on Monday night after FHE.

Saturday was our last rehearsal before our invited dress rehearsal this Thursday.

I came to the church armed with my dayquil, a roll of toilet paper, a carton of OJ, and mouth wash.

When I got to the church, Jami was working with a volunteer string quartet. They sounded beautiful.

Each group--the mechanicals, the fairies, the lovers, the pucks, the court--they were all working through their lines in separate rooms in the Stake Center.

At 10:30am we started the run. It was the easiest tech I've ever done. (This might have to do with the fact that I don't have tech in my shows) But we added the string musicians with barely a hassle.

After the run thru, we all ate pizza and everyone split off to run their separate rehearsals inbetween the runs.

At 3:30pm we started the next run thru. The fire alarm went off--and we just continued the run thru in the parking lot--then back onto the stage (fire alarm again--Say hello to the fire fighters, again--do your thing in the parking lot--) and then back onto the stage. With all these interruptions--our show ran until 5:10pm.

Towards the end, some little kids who were not in the play came into the cultural hall to see what was happening. They sat entranced. Their mom couldn't get them to leave.

I sat at the back of the cultural hall at my little table and laughed and smiled. It was such a gratifying experience to watch everything come together so nicely.

It's a great show. If you're in the DC area--come and see us this weekend.

Now back to the top of the post--I was teaching 7 classes--but without asking for it--I find myself only teaching 3 classes right now. I have time to give to this play. Heavenly Father has truly guided my life to make directing this play possible. I don't know why this little production was so important--but I am truly grateful for all the little miracles and gifts that have made this whole thing possible.


Christina said...

Whatever His reasons were, I'm so grateful for the experience! I found some old tapes of my high school and college plays and watched them last night. Besides cringing so hard I nearly swallowed my own tongue, I realized how much I have missed this form of creative expression. I love you for being so willing to inspire us to have more fun with things and to take greater responsibility for our own performances. I have learned a lot in this little time. So thank you, truly, my friend. You are wonderful, beautiful and brilliant and I love you. :)

Miss Heather said...

I think the Stake Cultural Arts Committee is worldwide... every ward in our stake is doing a play too... and we've never done anything like that EVER... the catch for ours is you have to base it on a story in the Book of Mormon. So we are doing the Joseph music redone with lyrics for Nephi and the boat. It's pretty cool.

Eve said...

Wow! That's a feat! I think it would be wonderful to try and develop a show, but I'm glad I didn't have to do that.

Christina--you are such an angel. Thank you! You are so wonderful to watch!

Hannah S said...

Sounds like fun! What a great production! It sounds like you have a pretty supportive cast/crew also. Don't forget to take pictures!