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I Have Never...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I Have Never revisited...

"I Have Never had such thorough feedback from a cast before."

The Show debrief looms close now. (If you are asking yourself 'What show?', have a look back in the archives here. It goes backwards from March 15th...)

The producer sent me the 'anonymous' cast feedback today.

What a punch in the guts.

It was a real mix of responses. They didn't hold back. I was initially left a bit winded.

Still, as I think I've mentioned, it wasn't exactly a beaming success. I guess I have to accept that, as Director and focal point for the cast, I deserved both barrels.

It wasn't an utter panning of my directorial ability. Some feedback included was very positive. However, at least two people were incredibly negative.

That's their perogative. I guess if I had trusted someone to steer me through a show, I would be pretty vitriolic when the audience didn't fall in love with the product.

"Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference."

Lessons learned:

1) When it comes to devising, don't run before you can walk. Initially I had factored for '5 or 6' cast. Somewhere along the line I got tied up in the number of 9 and having understudies. With 11 cast it was always going to be hard to keep them all feeling happy and included.

2) More regular production meetings. I can't help feeling that the production team at times felt a little stuck in the dark. Although we got a good email process going, this doesn't ever match face to face, sit down stuff.

3) Don't introduce set at the last minute. Large unwieldy blocks ended up getting strewn around the space, distracting from the action. Introduced a week or two earlier and they could have been used more extensively. If it is not humanly possible to have the actual thing that early, prepare the cast for their inclusion with some equivalent prop.

4) Let the cast do the devising. Although the show employed the cast's stories, I took on the role of ordering them and 'selling' the idea back to them. At the time I persuaded them, but in reality 'ownership' was not achieved. This meant the through line was lost.

5) It's not about thinking, it's about doing. Think too much and you lose the audience. The connections on stage have to be understandable on first viewing as it's unlikely that people will see it more than once.

6) If a scene isn't working, don't be afraid to pull it. By leaving it in there, you not only stand the risk of alienating the rest of the cast, but the person whose scene it was in the first place.

7) Don't get too attached. My own belief, right up to the dress, that this was going to be a great show, blinded me to the unexpected comedown afterwards. Oh, what a comedown.

8) You will always be your own worst critic. Whatever anyone else says, you have usually already thought it and then some...

9) Failure is one of the best ways to learn, but if you don't get straight back up again you'll only regret it.

When I was a kid, I went to a fun pool.
It had a water slide.
Excited, I climbed the steps.
Sat at the top.
Pushed off.
The downward force caused me to bash my head on the slide and temporarily knocked me unconcious. I was underwater for 30 or 40 seconds before I came to, realised my predicament and pushed towards the surface.

What did I do?

I climbed back up the slide...

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