It’s Fine. We have time…Why are you writhing on the floor?

I knew February would be a tsunami when I re-upped for the remount of the reshow.

If it weren’t for my calendar, I couldn’t tell you too much about what else I did aside from prepping for rehearsal, going to and from rehearsal, attending rehearsal, process rehearsal, email about rehearsal, and try to tend to my exceedingly ill children.

The boys were hit with a cold-flu-cold triple wallop last month.  They staggered it just enough so that once one got to the point where he could sleep and function without attaching himself permanently to my sleeve (using whatever dripped out of his nose as epoxy) the other picked up the slack.

I haven’t slept much in the last six weeks.

My original concerns that we were starting rehearsals too early (a full 8 weeks before opening) seemed to play out to a certain extent.  There seemed to be cast fatigue mixed with overconfidence.  “We’re so ahead of the game!” became the war cry as lines were dropped, songs were forgotten, dances ignored almost in their entirety.  “We’re fine!”

“We’re improvisers!”

Actors began coming up to me suggesting where there characters might be “awesome” when inserted in other scenes and dances.  Actors began asking to leave early, come late, miss rehearsal entirely.  “We have a lot of time!”

They are eager.  I know that. It’s good they want to be in more, rather than less, of the show.

“It’s a remount!”

Remount to me means that it’s got to be better and tighter than before.  It’s not. It’s sloppy.  It’s coming apart.  No one seems worried.

This lack of concern may be in some way connected to the special requests that are coming my way.  Extra rehearsals.  More convenient rehearsals.  One-on-one rehearsals. More emails.  Printed notes. Tapes. Videos. Changes. More changes.

I am not sure exactly where the line is, so I don’t say too much.  Ultimately, it’s my name on the program as assistant director and as choreographer.  The parts of the show I seem to be responsible for are indeed the ones where no one seems to be striving for excellence at this time. 

I’m embarrassed.  I keep running numbers.  Helping. Going over things. Sending notes. Color-coded stage directions.  Lots of encouragement.  Enthusiasm balanced with just enough gravitas to give the performances the weight they deserve. Giving up time with my kids to come early, stay late, go another night, add a rehearsal.  People are, oddly, also still telling me we have a lot of time…that it’s fine.

I’m worried. Should I look around at the other cast and crew members who seem calm and just go with it?

Probably.  Would bring me some much-needed sleep, I’m sure.

I need a break, though, from feeling like one of two adults wrangling cats actors and crew members.

I am feeling I’m putting more out at this point than getting back.  I’m not talking about appreciation or thanks or hugs…just general satisfaction with the work.

The other day, I was in charge of rehearsal. 

One actor who lives about 10 minutes away from me started my morning with his regular “May I have a ride home” text.  I enjoy this person.  I have driven him home from almost every rehearsal we’ve had.  He tells inane, detailed, fun, silly, naval-gazing yarns that allow me to just drive and nod and not have to contribute too much after working a three hour dance/acting rehearsal. He’s young and interesting.  Unfortunately, this one time, I did have to tell him I couldn’t drive him home. Even his responding texts seemed nonplussed: “Oh. Ok.”  (I did make sure he had a way to get home.  I’m not that big an asshole.)

We started 20 minutes late because some people wanted to “grab a soda” before starting.  Then, as I was giving some notes, one of the men came over to give me a backrub.  Apparently, that’s what you do to directors as they are working, right? Give them backrubs?

Another actor decided to play his strip-dance scene to me instead of to the actors on stage.  I directed him back into the scene and his crotch away from my face.

At break, the actor who rides shotgun with me most days came up and asked me, “What are you doing tonight?”

“Taking care of my sick children. Why?”
“I was wondering why you couldn’t drive me home tonight.”

Onlookers didn’t even try to hide their interest in this.

“I need to get to them as quickly as I can after rehearsal.”
“Can’t you just drop me off on the way home?  I’m not asking you to go out of your way…”

“They are at my parents’ house.  I have to get them.  You do have a way home, though? Right?”

All the while I kept wondering why I felt I was apologizing.  Why I felt the need to, especially since, 8 or 9 hours earlier, I had already said I just was unable to accommodate him that day.

By the second half of rehearsal, most people had given up trying to do the show from memory and were either improvising, using their scripts, or some combination of the two.

I had anticipated that most of the cast were going to “try and see” how well they would do before running lines on their own.  This wasn’t surprising or bad.  What was surprising and worrisome was the six dance numbers we’ve been working on (and mastering) for the last six weeks went down the drain as well.  Most of the actors ended up standing there and singing in place, even for a song we’d done not two nights earlier.

I had flashbacks to the last run, about three weeks in, when comfort set in, when other jobs and auditions started looking shinier and more fun and newer…and the dances got sloppier until they were almost gone, the lines got toyed with.  Fortunately, the singing always was at a high level.  The singing is always great and I am thrilled about that.  If nothing else, the audience’s ears will be charmed.

I struggled with finding the words to talk with the director.  He’s been very supportive and we’re generally on the same page. 

I blame myself for not inspiring the cast to do better and be better.  I wanted to do a full non-stop run through.  I should have stopped it.  I should have spoken up. 

But I didn’t.  And for six weeks I’ve not inspired them to want to at least maintain the quality of dance we’d gotten to.

It’s humbling. It’s horrifying.

I am not good at this.

I am not inspiring.

I may have all the fun, wonderful, brilliant ideas in the world, but I don’t inspire.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I want to be honest with myself.

So that is what I am currently reflecting upon.  My own reality self vs my fantasy self.

Tomorrow I have a newly scheduled rehearsal, called on a night I was supposed to be out at a charity event, an event I look forward to all year for a cause I truly believe in.  I am not going, not getting dressed up, not eating small delicious bites of things to excess.  I am rehearsing.  I am going in and rehearsing because it’s my show. It’s my name on the program. It’s my responsibility.

It’s my fault.

I will, however, cut my sandwich into small, beautiful circles and enjoy every last bite of it that I eat in the moments before I start.


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