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A Sense of Ensemble...

Jun 21st, 2012 by PatrickWalsh. No comments yet [Edit]

I am currently in the midst of rehearsal of MACBETH by William Shakespeare. This is my Wedge Selection for the summer. It has been a thrilling experience thus far. The play is just so good. I know that it sounds strange for a director to say, but when the text is as good as Shakespeare, it is such a pleasure to come to work. We are moving through the text and I actually blocked the entire show in two days and a half! This is by far a personal record. The good news is that although we are moving fast, I do not feel rushed. One member of my cast commented that she thought that we were “asking all the right questions.” Which, lets be honest, was gratifying to hear.

A huge part of the reason that I believe we are moving so fast and still maintaing a high level of work, is the actors that I am lucky enough to share rehearsal time with. They are young, but they are fierce and completely willing to jump right in with both feet. Christian, Liz, Katie, Sarah, and John are also a joy to work with, especially given the fact that MACBETH with a cast of 5 is daunting challenge to any performer.

Our week of ensemble classes was an amazing precursor for our rehearsal. This week of working and learning together gave all of our disperate selves an instant connection point, as well as a vocabulary to work with. —-I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to my fellow Drama League Director, Jess Jung, who is one of the most inspiring teachers that I have ever seen in action— My cast was already so bonded by these experiences, as well as so comfortable with each other, that it didn’t feel like starting from scratch.

I realize that this argument has been made, but I think that it is a decent one to have. How much better would all of our work become if we were able to grow and learn with one another over a long period of time? Exponentially better? What would happen if every regional theatre had a resident company of actors? Would that help our cause? How would we accomplish this? How does non-profit theatre compete with more commercial interests of movies and television?

What if we were able to keep actors employed on a year round basis? Could we hire them as full-time staff members? Using their innate abilities as performers to help bolster the whole organization, not just individual shows? Also, with them returning on contract, year after year, couldn’t we turn them in to local celebrities inside of our own communities. Couldn’t our audiences come and grow with these performers for the years? Imagine an actress taking on the role of Laura in THE GLASS MENAGERIE and then 40 years later, returning to the same stage to play the part of Amanda. Imagine the ride that the audience has taken with the actor through the years. There will be nothing like it.

Of course if this does not work, maybe a few theatres could band together to employ actors on a yearly basis.

Or could a theatre start an “in house” collaboration with some sort of commercial entity to get actors voice over work, or a teaching gig, or advertising work?

We have seen theatre start large capital campaigns in the past in order to build huge spaces. Could we not see the same thing done for an endowment for artists to make a living wage?

Perhaps pass out sketches to our patrons of all actors involved ?

As an industry I think that we need to say that, “these are the artists that continually engage our community. How do we keep them happy and interested in working with us over the years?” We need to celebrate these people. Not just on a show to show basis, but on a year to year basis.

Is this possible? A mere pipe dream from an idealistic youngster? Tell me your thoughts, folks. I’ll be here all summer!

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