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.

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