We've just finished our second full week at the Hangar! So much has happened over the last couple of weeks that it feels like we’ve been here for months. Upon arrival we immediately jumped into design meetings for our Wedge and KIDSTUFF shows. By the end of the first week we were presenting our designs to the production staff and getting feedback from the group about how best to execute those designs with the time and money available to us.
The Wedge Series is a long-standing Hangar tradition. It’s existed in many iterations over the years, but at its core, it’s an opportunity for the Drama League Directors to create risky, thought provoking work that pushes them personally. Our Wedge shows will take place outside under the Hangar tent late at night after the mainstage show is over.
For the Wedge, I'll be directing Mud by Maria Irene Fornes. It’s the harrowing story of three characters living in overwhelming poverty who are all fighting desperately for their own spiritual survival. Initially our set design involved a lot of components: hanging roof beams, a full wooden floor, etc. At our initial design presentation, the production team/technical staff expressed serious concerns about being able to load in and strike that many components every night. (The tent has to function as an outdoor extension of the lobby during mainstage performances). Luckily, this season’s set design fellow is very good at distilling his ideas, and he and I were able to cut certain elements while still maintaining the essence of the original ideas.
In addition to planning and designing the various shows we’ll be directing, we’ve also spent the last week teaching classes for the 21 member Lab Company. The Lab Company is made up of young actors/directors who are at various points in their respective training, but all of whom are eager to learn more about the craft. Teaching classes with my fellow Drama League Directors has been a really unique experience. It’s not often that you get to see how other directors interact with actors, and I’m learning so much from watching Paul, Austin, and Dan work.
After our first full day teaching the Lab Company we had to audition all of them to see which shows they might fit best in. After watching each Lab Actor perform two monologues and a song, we set to work casting the 4 Wedge shows, 4 KIDSTUFF Shows, and 9 studio projects that will be happening this summer. The only way to make sure that no one gets double booked is to utilize this gigantic casting matrix. The incredible Jen Waldman and her team of interns put this together prior to the start of auditions. After we sent all the actors home, we all stood around it in the lobby until about 1:30 AM trying to plug names in to each slot. Casting required an intense amount of logistical coordination and cooperation, but we finally got it done! I couldn’t be more excited about working with the actors in my casts and I think the other Drama League Directors feel the same way.
In the meantime, we’re all finding time to squeeze in a few adventures. Today on our way back from an outing with our Board Buddies we stopped to check out this beautiful waterfall. As part of our time at The Hangar we'll all be learning about the necessary skills to being an Artistic Director. Part of that includes working with a board. We've each been assigned a "Board Buddy" to help us each get real insight in to what it means to be board member at the Hangar. I'm really looking forward to getting to hear more about how the Hangar has changed over the years and what changes have been most effective in terms of keeping the theatre going from both an artistic and business standpoint.
Alright, I'll end this post with a snap shot of the waterfall we all saw today and a promise to write more soon. Right now I've got to go prepare for a design meeting for my KIDSTUFF Show: Charlotte's Web. It's a really sweet script and I'm looking forward to sharing it with the community at the end of the summer and writing more about that experience soon!