Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I learned directing

And just like that, it's over.

The Last Radio Show closed last night, and although I'm sad to see it go, I'm very happy with how it went. The audience loved the play, I came away with several ideas on how to improve the script (mostly cutting the slow bits), and I even made a little money.

I knew I would learn from experience. What I didn't know was how much I would learn. Basically, a metric boatload. Here are some of the biggest things I learned

1) The actors who complain that their parts are small are often the last ones to learn their lines.

2) As tempting as it may be, don't work on another script while in rehearsal. It's not a matter of time. It's a matter of mental energy. You owe it to your team to focus on the play at hand.

3) That first laugh is the hardest. Put it as early as you can--on lights up, if possible.

4) Sometimes the best thing a director can do for the cast during a long day of rehearsal is buy them pizza and leave them alone.

5) If you don't do anything with a character for several pages, consider giving them an exit.

6) Never ever EVER give an actor a line reading. Unless, of course, you have to.

7) The most important person on your team is the stage manager. Get the best one you can find.

8) It doesn't matter if you think the audience should laugh at a particular gag. If they're not laughing, cut it. There's nothing less funny than a line that's supposed to be funny.

9) Never ask actors to offer suggestions about their characters. They'll give you suggestions about everything BUT their characters.

10) Directing your own play is quite possibly the most stressful, nerve-wracking, nail-biting, agonizing, exhausting experience you ever have. It is also the most fun.

Will I do it again? You bet. But it has to be the right play and I have to have the right team. I don't know when those two things will come together, but I'm hoping that they do at least once a year.

Until then, it's back to writing.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Last Radio Show opens tonight

The costumes are fitted. The props are set. The last rehearsal is over.

Now all that's left to make this thing a real live play is an audience.

Tonight is the world premiere of my newest play, The Last Radio Show. It's a fast-paced farce about KUKU, a struggling radio station in the 1940's, and the mysterious series of "accidents" that threaten to shut it down for good.

It's the first full-length play I've ever directed. It's been a lot of  hard work, sure, but it was also a lot more fun than I ever expected, and you'd better believe I'll be back in the director's chair before the year is out.

The best part about directing is the people. The actors were a delight to work with, and even if they didn't always agree with my decisions, they injected so much of themselves into the characters that the play is a hundred times better as a result.

Of course, I couldn't have done any of this without the fabulous crew I was blessed with. They went above and beyond the call of duty, making sure that every costume, every prop, every set piece met my often nitpicky demands. They also played a huge role in improving the script, and my favorite part of the whole process was batting around ideas with them long after the actors had gone home for the night.

The show runs fours shows only at Black Box Theatre, 1367 Pecan Street, in Colorado Springs:
  • 7pm, Thursday, January 14
  • 7pm, Friday, January 15
  • 2pm, Saturday, January 16
  • 7pm, Saturday, January 16
The production even got a glowing recommendation from the Colorado Springs Independent.

Tickets for the two Saturday shows are going fast. To order yours, visit Brown Paper Tickets.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Radio on the air

I'm deep into the rehearsal process for my new play The Last Radio Show, but I still managed to squeeze in a couple of interviews on local radio shows.

On Monday, Jessamine Hamer, Sam Suksiri and I were interviewed by Keith Simon for the KCME Culture Zone. To listen, click here.

Today, Sue Bachman, Freddy McDaniel and I were interviewed by Drew Smith for KVOR's The Ticket. To listen, click here.

The show runs Thursday, January 14 to Saturday, January 16 at Black Box Theatre in Colorado Springs. Tickets can be ordered here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A look ahead to 2016

Over the last year, I successfully retargeted my playwriting career, spending less time submitting and more time writing. And it paid big benefits, allowing me to complete three full-length plays in 2015.

At this point, I can't afford to devote any additional time to writing, so my main direction for the new year is just to keep the momentum going.

Part of that involves the time of day I write. I've discovered that the quality of my writing is much better early in the morning than late at night, and the only way to get up that early is to go to bed early. So I'm resurrecting an old resolution from 2014:

1) Get to bed by midnight each night.

And here are the rest of my goals for 2016:

2) Successfully premiere my new play, The Last Radio Show. (The premiere is about to hit. Rehearsals start tomorrow for the January 14 opening.)

3) Get The Last Radio Show published.

4) Get Kill the Critic! published. (This may be a tough one as Pioneer Drama Service has already rejected it and there aren't too many other publishers who will look at a script that has never been professional produced.)

5) Finish the school play I'm currently working on, my second large-cast play and my first one intended for high school actors.

6) Get that play published.

7) Write a second play. I've got some ideas but haven't started any yet.

8) Lose another 10 pounds (I'm going to need more than exercise now. I may actually need to--gulp!--eat less).