In the midst of assisting at The Old Globe and enjoying all that sunny California has to offer, I’ve been preparing for DirectorFest. I’m directing a puzzle of a play by Sheila Callaghan called “He Ate the Sun.” (More on that in a future blog post.) I’ve read the script many many times. I’ve jotted down notes in handwriting that only a physician could decipher. And I’ve met with each of my designers, one-on-one, over the phone.
Which is weird for me.
I’ve grown accustomed to having ALL my designers in the same room at the same time. When I co-founded Flashpoint Theatre Company in Philadelphia, I could dictate meeting requirements in the designer contracts. And when I directed in grad school, I worked primarily with students (who needed to attend meetings if they wanted to get a passing grade).
Having everyone in the same room is the ideal way to work. My scenic designer can make a suggestion, which might immediately spark something else in my lighting designer, and soon we’ve arrived at an idea that’s infinitely better than anything we would have come up with on our own. In my world, that’s how I’ve always defined collaboration.
In the “real world,” we’re busy. We don’t have the same schedules. We take work all around the country in order to stay afloat (you know, until increased arts funding makes it possible for us to commit to fewer gigs a year). I’ll be lucky if I get all my designers together in one place once before tech rehearsals.
Thankfully it’s 2014. All I have to do is share a collage of inspirational images via Pinterest and Dropbox or make a playlist of show-appropriate songs on Spotify. My designers can access these and get closer to understanding my vision for the play, even as I remain far away from them. We can make an instant creative connection.
But I still miss that human connection. And I can’t wait to meet my design team in person when I get back to New York in a week and a half. I still believe THAT’s when we’ll come up with the best ideas.