It was my first attempt as an official assistant director. Born at the Shadowbox Theater on St Claude, directed by Harold Gervais, Smudge is a play by Rachel Axler. Its a piece about the loss of idealism. A young couple giving birth to a limbless, one eyed baby they name Cassandra.
I was excited about being an assistant director. I pictured intense explorations of character. But from the beginning, I could tell I was stepping on Harold’s toes. He would get this stance, like when two dogs meet each other when I spoke up. He told me to hold my comments and just tell him at the end. I guess I didn’t know the role of an assistant director. I felt that was ridiculous. The comments needed to be made while the actors were working.
Time went on, several rehearsals were called without my knowledge, so I figured I was not part of the team. I figured it was Harold’s way of working with the actors 2 week notice and I was fed up anyway. The actors didn’t seem to want to work, or some didn’t want to be directed. THeir characters never developed. They were the same after weeks of rehearsal as they were the first day. They had no respect I told Harold I was leaving.
The next day, the actor I would have thought least likely to care whether I left called me and asked me to come back. She said I really had good insight and that I had really helped her. I decided to return.
From then on, I spoke my mind. I contributed at rehearsals. Sometimes I even came close to working the actors.
The play opened too soon. The actors still paraphrased like crazy. They dragged through the scenes. In the last days of rehearsal the director was still going on these long rants about relationships and the past. I knew the for that was over. The only thing important was what the objective was in the scene and going for it and hitting the beats which did not ever seem to be in anyone’s vocabulary.
On opening night, the director seemed pleased they “got through it”. I was sickened. The actors didn’t seem to want to work any more. They were satisfied with the way it was which was terrible. The shows dragged like death marches. I was angry at the director for giving up. I began
questioning the actors about different beats of the show. I decided I was going to do what the director was not. I solidified objectives and beats. The show turned around and came to life. On the second to last performance to our biggest audience of 10, I finally caught a glimpse of how great the show could have been. If we had had one more
week it would have been great. Tonight is our last show. I guess I am happy for that. I hope other directing opportunities will come