In my last post, I quit acting locally. In this post I announce the creation of a local theatre company.
Does this make any sense? Am I confused?
For some time now Steven Sabel, a local director, has been asking me when I will direct. I kept putting him off because it seems like way too much work, and I thought I should concentrate on acting and writing. Then I would think of all the plays I wish I could produce and how I would do them. Maybe Steven knew something about me that I didn't know.
Recently, I thought of how much I would like to play Leontes in The Winter's Tale. As I looked through the script I got a lot of good ideas on staging it. I developed a "vision" of how it should be done. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced I could do it and make a good show of a beautiful play.
Then I thought, "Now all I have to do is find a director, explain to him the concept of the show, what happens in every scene, and give him the cut..." That's when I realized that maybe I am the director.
I still would like to find someone to help direct because I can't see myself on stage. It would be nice to have a director to run the rehearsals so I can focus on acting, especially late in the process.
I went to a local theatre that is supportive of the arts and explained my idea. I got a deal in which I can use the space for free as long as we promote the hell out of the play and they take the box office at least to the point that they cover their "nut." If we sell enough tickets to actually make a profit, then we'll even get some of the money. They help out on the technical side, too. It's a good deal for both parties. They have the space and I have the show to fill it. They don't make any money if their theatre is dark.
The name of the company is Next Renaissance Acting Troop. Or N-RAT, which sounds like something out of a Cordwainer Smith short story. (Science fiction. Never mind.) The word Renaissance looks to the past, and I do want to produce classical plays by such authors as Sophocles, Pierre Corneille, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Carlo Goldoni, Friedrich Schiller, and Victor Hugo. I'm also interested in shows by the early modern playwrights -- Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, Schnitzler, Shaw. I considered calling the company Theatre of Lepers because we would only do shows no one else wants to touch. (Polyeucte? What is that, a molecule?) I rejected that idea because I didn't want to put the focus on the negative -- and I can just imagine getting a letter of complaint from some lepers grievance organization.
The word Next looks to the future. I believe drama is not flourishing at the moment, but then, there have been few periods in history when it did flourish. As our culture moves from the black hole of postmodernism to a more rational philosophy, things will change. Someday there will be another Renaissance. I have no delusions that this little company will help bring about cultural change, but looking to a better world keeps my purpose lofty.
I have long desired to have an artistic home where I could produce the plays I write. Being able to gather actors for just a cold reading will help me after a first draft. Nothing like hearing actors struggle with your words to reveal problems.
So now I'm busier than ever and I still have the problem of dealing with actors who are not serious about the art. We'll see if the problem proves itself to be unsolvable.
For now, I want to take on this challenge. I won't live forever. Michael Jackson was younger than I, and he's dead. (But then, I don't use an IV as an alarm clock.) I don't want to enter my old age full of regrets about projects I did not undertake because of fear. Fear is the great destroyer of aspirations. No fear. Let us move into the future with courage.