the one difficulty i’ve been having with the show is the choreographer. he is an old timer who has done quite a bit of real hardcore choreography… broadway and shit… and was recommended by a couple of people in the cast.
i figured i could choreograph the shoe, dysentery but thought a choreographer who understood what we were doing could do it more quickly and efficiently than i could. my main concern, syringe really, in doing free theater is not to waste ANYONE’S time. so, if a choreographer could teach a step or a sequence in 5 minutes where it would take me 10, then let’s get us a choreographer. (i don’t think i’ve ever typed choreographer this many times. 7 more and i’m a homo)
i went to his house a couple of weeks ago and pitched the shoe to him. played him the songs, and walked him through my ideas about how the songs should look, with the full knowledge that we must let professionals do what they do and to stand back and let ’em do it.
from talking to him then, i realized that he supremely didn’t understand the shoe and was going to go for it like a real show.
okay… that’ll work… that may be even better. then there will be no jack black wink. it will be full on musical comedy choreography.
i was utterly wrong. he alienated the cast… was yelling at them… was frustrated at the lack of time that he had.. i get the lack of time thing but one can use it as a feature and not a bug..
today we had a very simple song. and i wanted it simple and told him the bullet points of what i wanted to see.
he told me all the reasons my ideas wouldn’t work and how it had to be visually interesting. so i said, “well, you’re the choreographer, and if you think you can make that happen today, then go for it…”
i couldn’t watch. he was so mean to everyone. just completely mean and condescending (that means “talk down to”). i stood in for one of the actors who had to be there late and couldn’t take it and had an understudy stand in instead.
i confabbed with the producer and stage mgr. and told them to give him an hour. i went to starbucks and got cookies and sweets for everyone. i got back a 1/2 hour later and sat outside the rehassle space listening to him yell at them.
the stage mgr came out nearly in tears. “either he goes or i go”.
So. i went in and watched what he’d done.
no focus. no ideas. nothing but complicated choreography imposed upon people who don’t dance. they were all soo frustrated.
when we are thrust in to situations we can either deal with the situation or leave immediately. trying to impose our will or how “things should be” will never work. that’s what he was doing. he was choreographing a professional show that had 10 weeks, a bunch of dancers and time for him to be self-indulgent.
we don’t have that. when i say you have 2 hours to choreograph a 3 minute song that involves no dancing and just moving people around the stage, that’s what you have. you can’t make it different. you can yell at the actors and me, but that’s the gig.
i told him, honestly, that the thing i hate most is wasting peoples time and that i had wasted his and, in turn had wasted the actors’ time and that it wasn’t going to work out. he gave me the list of why i was never going to get what i wanted and i just sat and listened and said “then i need to learn that and fail on my own with this process. what i’m most concerned with is that i’ve upset you and wasted your time. you don’t need this. you don’t need to be frustrated and all you are going to get is more frustrated because you don’t have the tools you need to see what you want. those tools consist mainly of time and dancers. we don’t have either of them and i’m sorry that i wasn’t more clear about that from the start.” he said “so that’s it, i’m done, then?” i just nodded sadly. “I can’t apologize enough to you, sir.” i said. totally meaning it. he was in a shitty position but we had to move on.
so. he split. getting the last word of “i don’t want my name associated with this… thing…”
i had 2 other songs that i needed to walk people through. they were very small number with just a couple of people and very simple duet bullshit. but i now only had an hour and a half.
i ‘splained to the cast what had happened. acknowledged that i’d fucked up and wasted their time and offered them cookies and sweets and we dug in and knocked the baby out.
i did what i had originally wanted; my “visually uninteresting” stuff and all.
i have to keep remembering that in this arena, directing is creating the show you want to see. the number looks great. the composer’s thrilled with it. the writer is thrilled. most importantly, the cast is happy and excited about the show again.
we’re doing this because we want to have fun. especially since this is free.
i almost lost a cast member and a stage manager because of someone i knew in my gut was wrong.
note to me: listen to me. put out fires before they begin. much easier.
still. there’s a 70 year old guy out there tonight who feels like shit because he thinks that he got fired by people who don’t appreciate his talent.
it is a weird and horrible world sometimes.