Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We get an extra second today. A leap second. Just before (or at?) midnight apparently. The clock will turn to 29:59:59 and then to 29:59:60 - and then it will be midnight. To correct the ever-slowing turning of the earth apparently. 

I plan to take full advantage of this second. I've been breezing along this June, preoccupied with having fun. And then all of a sudden, it became 30.06.15 and I'm on holiday in four days and my cast have not a stitch to wear, not a prop to call their own, not a programme to explain their artistry, not a press release to promote their fame - and a director who's been so obsessed with what she will wear to a wedding (not even her own!) that her head hasn't afforded her space or consideration for anything else. Good show.

It seems I'm not alone in my inability to manage multiple demands on my time. I've just read a book which could eerily be a study of my life. Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainthan and Eldar Shafir. It seems that Sendhil is a professor of economics at Harvard and Eldar is a professor of Psychology at Princeton. The biographies on the opening page don't mention whether either is also an enthusiastic practitioner of amateur theatre. 

The book is subtitled 'the true cost of not having enough'. The cost, they posit, is a reduced capacity to make smart decisions. Whether you have not enough money, not enough time or not enough blueberries (as discussed in their test case), the lack does not free your mind to focus on what you do have. Instead, it narrows your mind - it makes you obsessed - with what you don't have. So you worry and weep about it - but worry so much that you can't focus to make sensible decisions about the time / money that you do have. 

My brothers, I embrace you. This is how I spend my (extremely limited) time. Fretting always that I'm short-changing everyone and everything I turn my hand to. Imagining fictional nights of freedom that I'll spend doing this or seeing that person. Only to remember that actually, I'm working or rehearsing or attending two separate social occasions simultaneously already, to the dissatisfaction of all involved. 

I obsess about how different my life would IF I had time. How much better and excellent I would be in all ways. The smart one would spend this time thinking about her to do list and scoring things off. Instead, I am the tortoise, always scuttling (slowly and unproductively) towards disaster.

So today, I embrace this extra second. I shall endeavour to use it wisely. As this big old world won't keep on turning more slowly for ever.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We are blocked!

This makes me very happy. And feels like an extraordinary tribute to my excellent cast. 

More impressive yet, we were done by last Tuesday. I skivily took the rest of the week off but there was even wild talk about them meeting yesterday in my absence to run lines. Dear things. 

I'm astounded and impressed that they've worked so quickly. And I don't doubt that we'll footer about with it yet but how nice to have some sort of movements already written down. 

I now have two weeks before I (gulp) go on holiday. About which I feel terribly guilty but I've organised the schedule to coincide with their first tentative baby steps without the script. 

I have a back up plan for my back up plan, should the first back up plan not work. So I hope that all will be well.

This week, we shall do some gentle tinkering and (more) exploring of their (character) relationships with each other. I look forward to reaching dark dramatic heights. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

My cast are amazing. A delight. A joy. Nothing but a pleasure (so far) to work with. I can scarcely believe my good fortune.

I'm doing - we're doing - Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. Thanks to Paulina, we're using the punchier, marginally less ambiguous - or maybe slightly more ambiguous - 1994 edition of the text. He wrote it, it was performed a lot, he noticed some of the lines were unnecessarily lumpen, or could be made more pointed, and was in the happy position of having the revisions published too. 

We began two and a little bit weeks ago with a very kindly hosted viewing of the Roman Polanski film. Which was an unconstructive exercise beyond neatly demonstrating mostly how we don't want to do it. And giving much fodder for discussion. (Why does Ben Kingsley only begin to act approx 4 minutes before the end?) 

We did a couple of sessions of getting to know the story and the characters. And now we've barrelled into blocking. And they're doing wonderfully. 

Some cast despise the making it up as you go along approach. Admittedly, it's easier when you have a fixed collection of items of furniture and doors attached to different portions of the house. But still, they sometimes turn their empty vessel faces to you as if they have never had a thought about how and when to put one leg in front of the other in real life.

Not this lot. Oh ho, no. They frolic and frisk about the stage, to the manor born. Their eyes briefly flash with ridicule if I suggest something that seems impractical and stupid but they windscreen wipe that aside in an instant to be replaced with a heart-warming rage to please-ness. And I LOVE THEM for that. For probably when they do it, it does look stupid and we can switch it back to something better but at least I know. 

They suggest things. They think this or that would work better if. And this I love too for what is this weird old game if not a collective effort to tell a story in the best way that we, using all of our heads and years of watching life, can?

Man oh man. I seem to remember I'm almost always fond of a cast in the early days. I shall be interested to see if this love lasts. Or succumbs all too soon to the more usual convenient camaraderie. 

Then again, they're three. My favourite casts have (almost) always been small. It may be that this is a love that will last.