Sunday, June 5, 2011


Part of the interest, for me, in one of my present shows has been to watch this director at work...

This production, more than most, has been about process, feeling a way toward  the script; this director, more than most, has been willing to cut deadwood. Understand that it's common - especially with classic material - to approach the story with a slant, with that "vision" directors are famous for. This is needed.  As it was once explained to me, "someone has to drive the bus." Nice when the driver has a direction, y'know?

But there's danger that an early idea can drive the production too far or in the wrong direction - a no-exit toll road. An original thought may be vital as a starting motor, but later stall progress. There is, of course, a strong ego-incentive to NOT change; flexibility can feel like failure, not just a necessary stage of development.  (Bystanders don't usually get it, for instance.)  Ego can curse a creative project.  You have to be able to step away to evaluate what the project (not your ego) needs.

I learned this myself on Sweeny Todd, when the image in my head of St. Paul's in the Blitz helped me start, but needed to be cut finally because it confused other people.  My set for As You Like It is somewhat that way - I needed to take a (almost literal) machete and cut "deadwood' that just didn't work on stage.  I was embarrassed - I hate to waste people's time - but the set is unquestionably better.  Now I feel better too.

Fascinating - encouraging! - to see a director be equally ruthless in pruning his own work, cutting a first idea to stay in touch with the show.  To create simplicity.

Editing can be the most powerful design tool.  Design with an eraser.

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