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THE END OF A ROTATION ////// THE END OF AN ERA

June 23, 2013 / by Will Detlefsen


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(PHOTO CAPTION: This is actually the view from my apartment here… #notbad)

The first rotation is over. Louisa directed a hilarious Kiddstuff production of Pinkalicious, her first musical (heavily inspired by the spirit of Legally Blonde, I might add), Jamila kicked off the Wedge Experimentation Lab with her original devised piece called BODIES, Lian led the Company through a series of rehearsals devising and collaborating on Mirrors as well as led the Academy through their first session of Master Classes, and I directed a staged reading of Wendy Dann’s beautiful plays Brother Love and The Strangest Thing and can finally pass the “producer baton” to another fellow. I cannot begin to express the amount of learning I experienced in these past four weeks—we are growing as artistic directors and expanding our toolboxes as theatre makers in every way.

I have to say that again for the sake of emphasis:

I. AM. LEARNING. SO. MUCH!

For the first time in my life I can really see myself in an artistic director role someday. I have been the artistic director of my own theatre company for three years now, but as we are not institution, I consider it a very different thing. The overlap is in the need for impassioned leadership, vision, and generosity, sure, but it is a whole different ballgame when you are the artistic director of an institution such as the Hangar Theatre. Season planning, budgeting, subscriber pools, and marketing strategies are all things I am interested in leading some day, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to gain insight and knowledge into that world while I am here this summer in Ithaca.

Still, above everything else, directing is where my heart is. Sometimes I actually feel like the rehearsal room is better than sex—maybe they’re equal? I don’t know—tough call. (Just as a quick side note: I think when going to “work” feels as good, if not better, than sex—you know you’re in the right field. Or that you need to be having more sex. Perhaps both are true in this circumstance?)

After being in the producer rotation for three weeks, I was able to dive into rehearsal for the Hangar Pilot Reading Series last week with such vivacity and gusto. I loved every minute of that experience. Wendy Dann and I hit it off from our very first meeting. She teaches directing at Ithaca College, which in a lot of ways made it easier because she knows what it’s like, as a director, to have the playwright in the room. This was particularly interesting because two of the actors in my cast were her students at Ithaca College and two of the adult actors from Ithaca have worked with Wendy as a director before.

(PHOTO CAPTION: The first photo is from rehearsal and the second was during the talkback after the reading)

The plays were absolutely beautiful. They were right up my alley. She wrote them while reading Sarah Ruhl and Harold Pinter, so stylistically I was all over that! They were also about broken families and snowstorms and characters that may or may not be from outer space. The questions were huge and the play was in such good shape that I was free to play. There was a scene in which the only thing on the entire page was the stage direction: “THE BUILDING OF THE SNOW FORT.” So I got to be ballsy—I had the actors lift their music stands as high as they could go and then they both crouched underneath them as if they were in a snow fort. Another scene takes place on the rooftop, after the entire house has been buried in snowfall, and they are inside a tornado. Naturally it’s loud in this scene but because we could not have sound cues, I had the actors who were not in the scene vocalize the wind so the actors had something to work/shout against. (I know this sounds like an awful/corny idea, but it kind of worked).

I had a killer cast, an extraordinary playwright, and I felt completely in my element. It was a great first directing experience here. Next up I am directing a workshop presentation of WATCHING GOONIES AT MY HOUSE, a musical inspired by Sarah Dooley, the fifth grade, nostalgia, and The Goonies. After that I dive into rehearsal for my Kiddstuff show, A Year With Frog & Toad—a hip and cool version (hopefully with skateboards)! And then I close my summer with my Wedge: HIDING LIKE ELEPHANTS, based on Jean-Luc Godard’s A Bout De Souffle.

More updates to come!